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Thom Loverro: RFK Stadium caught a 'P.A.S.S.' in 1982

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Thom Loverro

RFK Stadium holds many great memories for Washington fans -- the Redskins' three-week 1982 championship run, the baseball All-Star Games in 1962 and 1969 and the return of baseball to the District in 2005 to name a few.

But the D.C. stadium also played host to a particularly unique event 30 years ago -- an NFL all-star game on Oct. 17, 1982, that almost no one saw and hardly anybody remembers.

The story of the replacement players that led the Redskins to a 3-1 record during the 1987 football strike has been well-documented. But there was football during the 1982 strike as well, and it was played at RFK Stadium and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and featured such Redskins as John Riggins, Mark Moseley and Rick "Doc" Walker.

They were called the "P.A.S.S." games, which stood for Players All-Star Season. They were put together by players association president Gene Upshaw and media boss Ted Turner.

The initial plan was for the players to create 28 teams and a new league during the strike with Turner's financial backing. But when the NFL went to court to stop that plan, organizers came up with the idea of all-star games.

It didn't pay much -- $3,000 for the winners, $2,500 for the losers -- but it was a paycheck for out-of-work NFL players.

"I guess I'll do just about anything for money," Riggins said.

The idea didn't pay off at the box office. RFK drew just a little more than 5,000 despite a number of Redskins playing in the game, with ticket prices reportedly between $8 and $15.

Those who did show up saw a bit of the Redskins' future when Moseley kicked the game-winning field goal for a 23-22 NFC win. Moseley, of course, would go on to kick the Redskins to the 1982 Super Bowl title and become the league MVP.

Walker got on a plane after the game and flew to Los Angeles to play the next day in the second all-star game in Los Angeles, which the AFC won 31-27 before another sparse crowd.

It is a fond memory for Walker, the ESPN 980 talk show host who was one of the Redskins' tight ends on that Super Bowl squad.

"You got a chance to play with guys in the league going through this tough period, and we got to play at home," Walker said. "It was tough because you are out of work, yet you are out there working trying to develop an alternative in case the NFL didn't come back. It was strange, but the camaraderie of guys from different teams all playing together fighting for the same goal was something I'll never forget."

And they probably were better than what passes for the Pro Bowl these days.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN 980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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