KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you’re tired of pro football mixed with politics this season, ask any Chiefs fan old enough to remember the fall of 1987. The NFL players hit the picket line in a labor strike against the league’s owners. The owners responded by bringing in replacement players, often referred to as “scabs.”
And in Kansas City, at least in one infamous episode, things turned violent.
Jack Del Rio, who is now the head coach for the Oakland Raiders, was a new member of the Chiefs in the fall of 1987. All across the league, striking NFL players occasionally had contentious encounters with replacement players who were crossing the picket line.
Thirty years ago this week, Del Rio spotted a man he assumed was a replacement player heading into Arrowhead Stadium. The two had words before Del Rio eventually dragged the man to the ground and proceeded to pummel him.
What Del Rio didn’t realize: the man was not a replacement player, he was legendary Chiefs receiver Otis Taylor.
Taylor, who was working as a scout for the Chiefs in 1987, eventually sued Del Rio and the two settled out of court. The replacement players went 0-3 in the games they played for the Chiefs. The team finished that season a disappointing 4-11.