Top graduate from the 1987 NFL strike? It's punter Kelly Goodburn

Rick Gosselin

The 1987 NFL strike gave players a chance to resurrect professional careers when the team owners opted to continue playing the schedule with replacements. Some went on to enjoy careers that gave them Pro Bowl appearances and Super Bowl rings.

That was the subject of our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll last week – which player went on to have the best post-strike career? The winner was a surprise – and it wasn’t even close. Kelly Goodburn punted for an 0-3 Kansas City strike team but went on to win a Super Bowl ring with the Washington Redskins.

Goodburn received 65 percent of the vote to easily outdistance quarterback Erik Kramer at nine percent. Quarterback Steve Bono was next at six percent. Kramer quarterbacked the Falcons during the strike and went on to win the only playoff game for the Detroit Lions in the last 60 years. Bono quarterbacked the Steelers during the strike but went on to deliver Kansas City to a 13-3 record and the top playoff seed in the AFC in 1995.

The three Talk of Fame Network hosts could not reach an agreement. Ron Borges cast his ballot for San Diego defensive tackle Joe Phillips, Clark Judge for 49ers' guard Ray Brown and Gosselin for Goodburn.

“Joe Phillips became a top notch interior defender and did it for 12 years after the strike,” Borges said. “Players like that are hard to find. What replacement player did more? No one.”

Brown wound up playing 17 seasons after the strike, starting 205 career games.

"It's a toss-up for me between Ray Brown and Joe Phillips, both of whom I covered," Judge said. "But I'll go with Brown in a photo finish if, for no other reason, than he parlayed the strike into a career that was longer than Joe's and just as productive -- albeit on the other side of the ball."

Goodburn kicked for six more seasons after the strike and won his ring with the Redskins in 1991. He punted 351 times for an average of 39.9 yards.

“I covered that Kansas City strike team and it was terrible,” Gosselin said. “(Then head coach) Frank Gansz told me before they started playing the strike games that his best player was his punter. He was right – and a few years later, he picked up the jewelry from the Redskins to prove it.”

Others who received votes were Oakland safety Eddie Anderson, Cincinnati fullback Marc Logan and Indianapolis safety Mike Prior.


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