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When players went on strike for better benefits, Eric Dickerson undermined them

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 19: Running back Eric Dickerson of the Atlanta Falcons sits out this game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 19, 1993 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won 37-30. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

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Eric Dickerson is now speaking out for the idea that Hall of Fame players should be paid $300,000 a year in retirement. But when Dickerson was an active player, supporting the retired players was not his concern.

In 1987, the NFL players went on strike, and among the key pieces of their agenda were improving retirement benefits and health care. The players’ solidarity cracked after the NFL owners decided to keep the league going with replacement players, and eventually many veteran players crossed the picket lines. And one of those strike breakers was Eric Dickerson.

In fact, it was Dickerson and another signer of the statement he released yesterday, Lawrence Taylor, who delivered the finishing blow to the players’ strike when they led a movement to cross the picket line three weeks into the strike: The players’ union took a huge hit when those two stars led the way as players on almost every team decided to break the strike and return to work simultaneously.

As a UPI article on October 15, 1987, put it: “Over 100 players, led by superstars Lawrence Taylor and Eric Dickerson, crossed picket lines in the largest one-day defection since the union began its walkout Sept. 22.”

Dickerson ended up not playing in any replacement games, but he made it clear at the time that that was because he didn’t trust the replacement offensive linemen to protect him, not because he supported the union’s cause.

I can’t take a chance going in behind this [non-union] offensive line,” Dickerson told the Los Angeles Times on October 16, 1987.

So when Dickerson had a chance to show solidarity with his fellow players and pressure the owners into better benefits, he decided instead to look out for himself and cross the picket line. For Dickerson now to hold himself up as the leader of a movement to support retired players comes across as too little, too late.