Days after the National Football League strike began, the September 27, 1982 cover of Sports Illustrated depicted a football, sitting deflated on an empty playing field, with a headline that read "PFFFFFFT!" It summed up the mood of the nation’s football fans as they endured a strike that dragged on for 57 days, cutting the season nearly in half.
The players, led by former Oakland Raider Gene Upshaw, had demanded free agency after three years in the league and a 55% share of broadcast revenue. Neither side got everything they wanted, but the owners agreed to an almost $2 billion increase in minimum salary, as well as increases in both veterans’ pay and severance pay. That was enough for the players to end their dispute, but by then seven weeks and seven of the season’s games had been cancelled.
Pictured: Oakland Raiders guard Gene Upshaw in 1981, prior to the NFL strike.