Vikings’ desperation was on display in NFL players strike 30 years ago

The clock was ticking during the 1987 NFL players strike, and the Vikings were desperate.

It was 10 days before they would face Green Bay in the first replacement game, and they didn’t have any players. That’s because then-general manager Mike Lynn thought the strike would be short and there would be no need for replacements.

Lynn was wrong. And as the Oct. 4, 1987, game against the Packers at the Metrodome approached, a search began for bodies, especially a quarterback.

Sept. 2017 courtesy photo of Tony Adams with his original jersey from when he was the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, who fielded a rag-tag team of replacement players for three games of the 1987 season during a 24-day players strike. When NFL players went on strike on Sept. 22, 1987, Adams was 37, playing in a touch football league in Kansas City and six years removed from his last playing experience with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Compared to most of the replacement Vikings, Adams had an impressive NFL resume, having spent four seasons as a backup quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1975-78. Adams also had a couple of strong Minnesota connections, having played under Vikings assistant coaches Bob Schnelker and Paul Wiggin in Kansas City. (Courtesy of Tony Adams)
Tony Adams

One possibility was Pete Carroll, now a Super Bowl-winning coach with Seattle. Back then he was Minnesota’s 36-year-old defensive backs coach who hadn’t taken a snap at quarterback since high school and had never played in the NFL.

“Pete was going to be our quarterback if we couldn’t get anybody else,” said Paul Wiggin, a Vikings personnel consultant who was then the defensive line coach. “So that’s how our situation was. He wasn’t a quarterback, but he was a heck of an athlete and he could throw. He was willing to be our quarterback, and he probably could have done it.”

But Carroll, who was a quarterback at Redwood High School in Larkspur, Calif., before moving to safety at the University of Pacific, didn’t get his chance. That’s because the Vikings found a guy older than Carroll playing touch football in Kansas City, Mo..

Enter 37-year-old Tony Adams, who was in the NFL with Kansas City from 1975-78 and last played in 1980 — with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League.