Thirty-one years after he played during the NFL strike, Princeton’s Mike Wooten and other members of the 1987 Washington Redskins strike team were officially presented 1987 Super Bowl Rings on Tuesday.
The rings were handed out to the team’s 1987 squad players during a ceremony at Inova Performance Center at Redskins Park. Charley Casserly, who served as the Redskins’ Assistant General Manager in 1987 and helped built the replacement squad hosted the event and welcomed more than 25 players. A surprise appearance was made by 1987 Super Bowl champions Doug Williams, Gary Clark and Dexter Manley, who joined the replacement players for a group photo.
“Good things happen to those who wait,” Wooten told WTSB on Thursday. “Even without the ring, it was an honor to represent Johnston County as a member of the Redskins and to receive the ring 30 years later is considered a blessing and a great the right decision on behalf of the Redskins organization.
The contributions of Wooten and his fellow replacement players were previously highlighted in the documentary Year of the Scab, produced by Ten100 in association with Leftfield Pictures. The film, directed by John Dorsey, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in the spring of 2017 and aired as part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series in September.
“The 3-0 record of the Redskins replacement players was part of the remarkable success of the 1987 Washington Redskins,” Owner Dan Snyder said in a statement in March announcing the ceremony. “Their contributions are part of Redskins history and represent an integral reason why a Lombardi Trophy from the 1987 campaign resides in our facility today. Thanks in part to the generosity of our partners on this project, we are happy to honor these players for their role in that World Championship.”
The Virginia General Assembly also officially commended the replacement members of the 1987 team in March with House Joint Resolution No. 151, expressing “the General Assembly’s admiration for their determination, hard work, and incredible achievements.” Quarterback Tony Robinson and defensive lineman Anthony Sagnella represented the replacement players during the passing of the resolution in Richmond.
In Washington’s first game with replacement players, the Redskins defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 28-21, as wide receiver Anthony Allen finished the day with seven catches and a single-game franchise record 225 yards. The next week, the Redskins defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 38-12. Despite the strike ending four days later on Oct. 15, 1987, the Redskins’ replacement players played and defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 13-7, in a Monday Night Football matchup despite the return of multiple starters for Dallas.
The three victories earned by Mike Wooten and his teammates helped propel the Redskins to an 11-4 regular season record. The team went on to win the Super Bowl.
Mike was born in Roanoke, Virginia but moved to Johnston County in 1969 when his father was hired as an assistant principal at the new Smithfield Selma High School. Mike excelled in football, wrestling and track from 1978-1981 while he attended SSS.
He received a full scholarship to play football at Virginia Military Institute. He played center for VMI from 1981-1985 and was selected as co-captain his senior year and received Division II All-American Honors.
After graduating from VMI in 1985, he signed as a free agent with the Redskins but was released. He was called back by legendary coach Joe Gibbs in 1987 to play Center during the NFL strike.
Prior to be called back by Coach Gibbs, Mike had already started officiating local middle and high school football games. He continued to do so after 1987 until becoming an Atlantic Coast Conference football official in 2003. He was selected to the Johnston County Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Mike is also employed by United Community Bank, former Four Oaks Bank. He is active in his church, Princeton Church of God.
Since 2008 he has served on the Johnston County Board of Education. He and his wife, Paula, have two children, Michael and Meredith.