NFL PLAYERS STRIKE: DAY 10 : Dils, Guman, White Abandon the Strike, Return to the Rams

Times Staff Writer

Three more Rams--quarterback Steve Dils and running backs Mike Guman and Charles White--crossed the picket line and returned to practice Thursday in Anaheim.

That makes four who have crossed, nose tackle Alvin Wright having returned to practice Wednesday.

“I think you’ll see other guys cross,” Dils said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that. How many I don’t know. There are a lot of guys who feel the same way that I do, only they decided to give it one more week.


“I decided that I’d already given them one paycheck, I didn’t see any reason to give them another based on what Gene (Upshaw, executive director of the players’ union) was telling everybody as late as Tuesday night in Minnesota, that he’s not backing off free agency. So I didn’t see a reason to give them another week. Things were not going to change. We could go the whole season this way.”

Guman said: “I know we’ve got guys wavering. How many, it’s hard to say. We might have five more guys in today. We might not have anyone.”

Out on the picket line, strike leaders were downplaying the return of three name players, one of whom, Guman, is a starter.

“Obviously, management would view it as players wearing down,” Carl Ekern, the team’s player representative, said. “Personally, I don’t think a small amount of people who make that choice will have an effect.”

Assistant representative Gary Jeter said: “I don’t look at it as any break in the dam.”

Ekern and Jeter said they had expected Guman and Dils to return all along. Neither showed much support for the union’s fight, particularly over the issue of free agency.

“I don’t think there ever had to be a strike,” Dils said. “It could have been taken care of. We should have backed off free agency. From the beginning, the owners publicly said they were going to negotiate on severance pay, pensions, things that were important to players. Why didn’t we call their bluff and say, ‘OK, let’s do it.’? We never made an effort to get this thing solved.”


Guman publicly questioned the strike before it began 10 days ago but then relented and walked out with his teammates.

“I really don’t want to get into it, what it was based upon,” he said of his decision to return. “It was personal.”

Both Guman and Dils will resign as members of the National Football League Players Assn.

More surprising was the return of White, who gave teammates no indication of his plans.

White would not comment on his return Thursday, but teammates said it might have had something to do with his most recent episode with drug abuse. White was arrested in August for being under the influence of a controlled substance and was allowed to return to the Rams under the condition that he be tested daily for drugs for the rest of his career.

Jeter said it was easier to understand why White wanted to return to the routine of work.

“An idle mind is a playground for the devil,” Jeter said. “You’ve got to keep him busy. . . . His is a totally different situation. He’s a guy who’s had a problem and if he’s not on the right course, he could very easily end up on the course he was on before. We don’t want that to happen.”

Ram Notes The striking Rams expect about 20 players to join the Raiders in picketing this weekend’s game at the Coliseum between the non-union Raider and Kansas City Chief teams. . . . A name popping up on the picket line as the next Ram most likely to cross is veteran center Doug Smith. . . . Striking Ram players were distributing releases from the NFLPA explaining and reaffirming the issues the players are fighting for. One read, in part, that NFL management was “ . . . issuing false statements about the weakness of the players beginning to show.”