NFL PLAYERS STRIKE: DAY 9 : Steve Wright Gets Guarantees, Joins Raiders

Times Staff Writer

The "prominent" Raiders whose crossing was reported as imminent remained on the union side of the picket line, but a former Raider with an asterisk went over Wednesday.

Tackle Steve Wright, who started the first, third and fourth exhibitions, then was abruptly cut shortly after meeting Dan Hampton in the Chicago Bears game, went in. Wright was about to be re-signed as a replacement for the injured Bill Lewis a week ago when the regular rosters were frozen by the strike.

Wright then walked the picket line and practiced at El Segundo High with his teammates to be. However, with strikebreaking offensive linemen proving as scarce as wisdom in a labor negotiation, Wright found himself a free agent, sort of.

Voila! The Raiders' offer went up--guaranteed salary and a guaranteed spot on the roster after the strike ends--and Wright went in.

"It was an offer I just couldn't refuse," he said. "They offered me a spot on the roster with a 100% guarantee of my money. That's something someone in my position, not having played in a year and a half, that's something you just can't walk away from.

"They brought me back the day after the Lion game. Then they found out I couldn't sign a contract. Something came over their Teletype--you couldn't give a free agent anything but a scab contract. I knew all about those. I went through the strike (with the Dallas Cowboys) in '82.

"A scab contract is pretty much week to week. It's just peanuts. I didn't see selling myself out for one of those.

"So without being a union member or on the team, I was on the picket line with the players. I was at their practices. There were 10, 12, 15 players picketing at the most. Half the guys weren't even showing up. I said, 'The heck with this.' I went home to my parents' house in Phoenix to get my head together. Then the Raiders started calling, trying to get me to come back."

And if the striking Raiders are angry at him?

"I really don't care," Wright said. "Everybody's entitled to their own opinion. You can't satisfy everybody. I'm just trying to satisfy Steve Wright. I was out fighting with them. I hung on as long as I could.

"As of right now, the union and management aren't even talking and I do not care to sit around and wait for them. I'm hurting for money just like everybody else. There's a few guys who have too much and spend theirs a little too fast."

And what of Marc Wilson?

The Raider quarterback crossed the line a week ago, claiming that striking might be construed as a breach of his guaranteed contract.

Wilson informed his teammates about it beforehand and said he hoped to avoid playing in any strikebreaker games.

Wilson is also reported to have told his teammates that he had reason to be concerned--that the Raiders had already taken one shot at breaking his contract on a technicality.

Wilson's teammates bought it for the moment, showing little anger toward him. Last week, however, they also called union headquarters and had someone look at his contract. The report came back that there was no language preventing him from striking.

So far Raider management has yet to say if it will honor Wilson's request not to play.

"Marc's status right now, I have him on hold," Coach Tom Flores said Wednesday. "Right now, I'm leaning toward Vince Evans a little bit more than Marc."

Why wouldn't he play Wilson?

"Well, one of the reasons, in a game like this, Vince's scrambling ability might be a little advantage. But I haven't ruled out Marc."

Is Flores concerned about the striking players' attitude toward Wilson playing?

"I don't know. . . . My job is to win. When all the dust settles, the coaches, they only look at one thing, how many games you win, how many games you lose. So we're going to do the best we can to win."

How about Wilson holding for kicks?

"Marc right now is our best holder," Flores said.

So will he hold?

"Could be," said Flores, breaking up the press conference. "Probably."

Raider Notes Shelby Jordan, the tackle who has been on injured reserve, has resumed getting treatments at El Segundo, which means he has crossed the picket line. Three other linemen on injured reserve have been crossing since the strike started--Mickey Marvin, Chris Riehm and Curt Marsh. Two big-money players on injured reserve, however, aren't crossing, Henry Lawrence and Lester Hayes. Hayes is losing $43,000 a week for not sticking his sore toes in a Raider whirlpool, Lawrence $23,000.

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