ASHBURN, Va. — He fiddled with the ring on his right hand, still not fully believing what it symbolized. For Skip Lane and 24 other members of the 1987 Washington Redskins replacement team it was their day to celebrate being part of a Super Bowl championship. They waited a long time to get a ring — and when they finally did they still needed to pinch themselves.
“It was surreal,” said Lane, one of 25 replacement players in attendance. “Even walking in here I never really thought I was going to get the ring. I still don’t believe it’s on my hand. It’s a fantasy almost.
“It’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s been such a long time coming. I think it’s going to take a while to set in that it’s on my hand. I keep touching it.”
The Redskins announced three months ago that they would be honoring the replacement players with a Super Bowl ring. There was momentum for doing so after an ESPN 30 for 30 film called “Year of the Scab” debuted in May 2017. In the film, several players on the other side of the picket line — defensive linemen Dexter Manley and Darryl Grant among them — endorsed the idea of them getting rings.
At the ceremony, after each player was introduced and given their rings, they took a picture with two of the players who were key parts of the regular roster: Manley and quarterback Doug Williams, who went on to win the Super Bowl MVP vs. Denver.
“Sometimes it’s not when it comes it’s the fact that it came,” said Williams, who posed for pictures with some of the replacement players and their families. “Today is a great day for everybody. … When it came up about them receiving rings, I thought it was a good opportunity to show them we appreciated them.”
The replacement players went 3-0 during the strike that lasted from Weeks 4 to 6. They beat the Cardinals, the defending Super Bowl champion Giants and the Cowboys on a Monday Night Football game.
“If they don’t win that game, we’re not here,” said Charley Casserly, an assistant general manager at the time who helped put together the replacement team.
Casserly, who hosted Tuesday’s event, admitted he still gets choked up talking about then-coach Joe Gibbs’ speech to the team before taking the field in the final strike game vs. Dallas, telling the players this is why they were here, for moments like this.
Quarterback Tony Robinson only played in one game, the 13-7 win over Dallas. The regulars returned to work the next day, but Robinson said he’s still reminded of that game by fans. And now he has a ring.
“My friends ask, ‘Are you excited? Are you excited?'” Robinson said. “I was like, man it’s just another day. But I can’t describe it. My heart is pounding. It’s unbelievable man. I can’t describe it. Right now I’m just speechless.”
Like many, Robinson didn’t know if the replacement players would ever by acknowledged. They endured a lot of anger at the time for crossing the picket line.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Robinson said. “I really don’t know what to think. I just went along with it day by day and all of a sudden things start happening and all of a sudden here’s the fruit. Here it is.”
The strike team included a lot of fantasy-type stories, like offensive tackle Willard Scissum going from a security guard at 7-Eleven in Oxon Hill, Maryland, to blocking Dallas’ Ed “Too Tall” Jones in the Monday night game.
Scissum wasn’t bothered by the fact that the regular players didn’t want him around. As a security guard at night, he said he was routinely threatened by criminals and drug dealers in the parking.
“There were times I had to stand my ground and tell them, ‘Look, you move this car or it will get physical out here,'” Scissum said.
There were no tears shed when the replacement players picked up their rings Tuesday. There were no players breaking down when they eyed the jewelry. There was plenty of hoops and hollers and laughter; a true celebration in a city focused on an even bigger one: the Capitals’ title parade.
Back in the day, the Redskins did give the players a share of the Super Bowl money, $27,000 apiece. It was a hefty sum, but as Lane said, “The money is all gone.”
“It’s just phenomenal,” said Scissum, on crutches thanks to a years-long battle with a knee infection. “It’s unbelievable we get a chance to be recognized this way. At the time I felt getting the playoff money was sufficient. I thought we might get some commemorative type of ring. But to get this Super Bowl ring? It far exceeds my imagination. I’m eternally grateful.”
Lane was among the driving forces behind the ring. He’d like to see the NFL also provide pensions for those who even played just one game in the NFL. For now, he’s got his ring and that’ll win the day.
“In your heart you knew you were a part of it, but we were never really accepted into the organization,” Lane said. “This tells you we were worth the while.”