No former Rutgers players earned Super Bowl rings with the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52, but last week it was announced that former Rutgers Scarlet Knight Anthony Sagnella would receive one for his role on the 1987 Washington Redskins.
After over 30 years, the #Redskins replacement players of the 1987 season will be getting rings, recognizing their contributions during that championship year. Congratulations! pic.twitter.com/1aNSIVdNJB— Redskins Nation (@NBCSRN) March 7, 2018
In 1987, the NFL was in the midst of a players strike as the owners could not come to an agreement with the players association, particularly on the topic of free agency. As a result, NFL teams filled their rosters with replacement players (often referred to as “scabs”) and the games they played actually counted toward the final NFL standings even after players crossed the picket lines. The Washington Redskins did a great job finding players like Sagnella. The Scabskins went 3-0, helping propel Washington to the playoffs and ultimately a Super Bowl Championship.
Our friends at Hogs heaven discussed their thoughts including how much a recent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary influenced this decision by Washington ownership to issue championship rings. The film entitled “Year of the Scab” focused on the paradigms of several key members including Anthony. The 2000 movie “The Replacements” starring Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves included some loosely based plotlines, but did not move the needle in quite the same way. One thing “The Replacements” did highlight was how the Washington “scabs” actually defeated the Dallas Cowboys in a game where several All-Pros like Randy White and Tony Dorsett had returned in one of the biggest upsets in NFL history.
Anthony played at Rutgers as a defensive tackle from 1982-1985, earning three varsity letters. His time on the banks was filled with the Scarlet Knights having many ups and downs, like the 1984 win at Giants Stadium over West Virginia. Then in 1985, Anthony’s senior year, Rutgers began the campaign with a tie against #3 Florida in Gainesville before the wheels completely fell off in a disappointing season. He was drafted by the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in 1986, but the league folded shortly before the season began. His NFL highlight came in the Redskins game at Giants Stadium, when the Connecticut product had a sack in a 38-12 win. His final game was the win against Dallas.
Sagnella now coaches football and teaches high school health at North Haven High School. Ironically, the team’s nickname is “The Indians.”The NHHS Indians under Sagnella’s leadership have won 11 division titles in his 18 years at the helm.
Congrats Anthony, better late than never!