This Thursday night, the ESPN 30 for 30 film, “Year of the Scab,” made its global debut at the Tribeca Film Festival to an audience at Cinépolis Chelsea. The film, directed by Emmy-award winner John Dorsey, is about the 1987 Washington Redskins, but not the team that won the Super Bowl that year.
Two games into the 1987 NFL season, the NFL had a lockout thus leading teams to quickly assembling replacement rosters (if you have ever seen the movie The Replacements, this is a similar narrative.) For three games, the Redskins sported a roster made up of NFL washouts and undrafted college players who never made it to the NFL and impressively won all three of their games.
After the lockout had ended, the Redskins went on to win Super Bowl XXII, featuring a team of future Hall-of-Famers Art Monk, Darrell Green, Russ Grimm, and head coach Joe Gibbs. Following the postgame ceremony, the world wrapped around the team that whooped John Elway and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. In the process, everyone forgot about the replacement players for Washington, who were crucial to the success of the Redskins in 1987.
“These guys had their moment where they tasted their dream on the biggest stage in sports and then were just cast aside,” said Dorsey. “It should have been a badge of honor, and now they are walking around with a ‘scarlett letter.’ They never got the recognition they deserved for winning the Redskins Super Bowl winning season.”
No one gave credit to these Redskins replacements, and now, as they live their regular lives among us, history has forgotten them. For Dorsey, this film is about bringing them back to the spotlight.
“They deserved rings, and they deserved the accolades, but it’s not the accolades that define who you are,” said Dorsey. “These guys have gone on to live lives of quiet dignity and never expected anything like this.”
For one of the replacement players in attendance, Quarterback Tony Robinson, tonight was a special night about sharing their story with the world, a story with an important theme that everyone can take something away.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s a once in a lifetime moment, and I am happy to be a part of it,” said Robinson humbly. Robinson then gave a few inspiring words by saying, “don’t ever give. I could have gave up a long time ago. I just put all of my trust in the Lord, and things just blossom, just keep striving and good things will happen.”
Robinson, like his teammates, persevered through tough times to accomplish the NFL dream. That perseverance paid off for them thirty years ago and paid off for them tonight, as they celebrated their story finally being in the spotlight.