Three-Week Professionals: A Book Review
by Randy Snow
Original to www.theworldoffootball.com, Monday, September 7, 2015
In his latest book, Three-Week Professionals, author Ted Kluck takes an in-depth look at the 1987 NFL players strike when the league used replacement players for three games. Union players walked the picket line while a host of largely unknown players took their places on the field. The coaching staffs of each NFL team, who were not a part of the strike, had to scramble to sign players to fill their rosters for those games.
The first interview in the book is with Mike Hohensee, who was a replacement player and quarterback for the Chicago Bears during the strike. Hohensee had previously played in three other pro leagues; the United States Football League, the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League. In fact, he threw the first official pass in the Arena league and also the league’s first touchdown pass in 1987. Hohensee has been associated with the Arena league ever since, mainly as a coach. He led the Chicago Rush to an ArenaBowl title in 2006 and was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 2013. During the 2015 season, he was the head coach of the AFL Portland Thunder.
Another interview in the book is with sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who had many of his clients walking the picket line in 1987. During the strike, the NFL Players Association, union representing the regular players, sent out a warning that any agent who represented replacement players could be de-certified by the union as a result. This meant that the replacement players were on their own in negotiating with NFL teams.
Many of the players interviewed in the book may never have become household names, but their stories are fascinating to say the least. Players like Joe Bock, Larry Linnie, Steve Dils, John Reaves and Adrian Breen. Their experiences, both good and bad, are worth retelling and preserving.
By the third replacement game, many striking players began crossing the picket line, leading to some hard feelings between teammates but, ultimately, it brought an end to the strike.
During his research, Kluck was able to view many of the replacement games through DVDs he acquired. It just goes to show you that you can find anything on the Internet, if you look hard enough.
My only complaint about the book is that there are no pictures included other than the one on the cover. I would love to see more pictures from this fascinating time, especially since the NFL would rather that everyone forget about it.
If you lived through that season as a fan, like I did, you will want to know more. If you are too young to remember the 1987 strike season, then this book will be quite an education for you.
About the Author
Ted Kluck is no stranger to the subject of football in his books. In Paper Tiger: One Athlete’s Journey to the Underbelly of Pro Football, he played football for the 2006 Battle Creek Crunch of the Great Lakes Indoor Football League and wrote about the ups and downs of the season. In another book, Game Time: Inside College Football, he interviewed players and coaches at various levels of college football as well as Phil Steele, who publishes an annual college football preview magazine. Robert Griffin III: Athlete, Leader, Believer, is a biography of the Washington Redskins quarterback.
Kluck also teamed up with former NFL and USFL quarterback Jim Kelly on another book, The Playbook for Dads: Parenting Your Kids in the Game of Life.
You can also check out his web site at www.tedkluck.com.