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Eric Dickerson

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Eric Dickerson
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No. 29     
Running Back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1960-09-02) September 2, 1960 (age 54)
Place of birth: Sealy, Texas
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
College: Southern Methodist
NFL Draft: 1983 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Debuted in 1983 for the Los Angeles Rams
Last played in 1993 for the Atlanta Falcons
Career history
Career highlights and awards

Records

  • NFL Record 2,105 Rushing Yards in a Single Season
Rushing yards     13,259
Rushing average     4.4
Rushing TDs     90
Stats at NFL.com
Pro Football Hall of Fame

Eric Demetric Dickerson (born September 2, 1960) is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for eleven seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. Dickerson played college football for Southern Methodist University, and was recognized as an All-American. He was selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, and Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. During his NFL career, he rushed for over 13,000 yards. He holds the NFL's single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards, set in 1984.

College careerEdit

Dickerson committed to Texas A&M before reconsidering and decided amongst Oklahoma, Southern California and SMU before his grandmother talked him into staying in the state of Texas to attend Southern Methodist University because she liked SMU coach Ron Meyer. Dickerson was the subject of recruiting controversy when he started driving a new Pontiac Trans-Am during his senior year.[1] At the time he said his grandmother from Mexico bought it for him. Dickerson, even to this day, refuses to answer on whether or not he accepted anything to attend SMU, saying, "Even if I did take something, I still wouldn't tell."[2]

Initially, Dickerson shared carries with Craig James and Charles Waggoner, all three blue-chip recruits in 1979. Waggoner was hurt returning a kickoff their freshman season, leaving Dickerson and James to lead SMU's running attack, called the "Pony Express." Dickerson gained 4,450 yards on 790 carries to break Earl Campbell’s Southwest Conference record for yards and attempts. His 48 career touchdowns tied Doak Walker’s SMU total for career scoring. In his senior year despite splitting time with James, Dickerson finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, behind Herschel Walker and John Elway.[3] He was also a First-team All-America in 1982 and a Second-team All-American in 1981.[4]

StatisticsEdit

Rushing Receiving
YEAR ATT YDS AVG LP TD NO. YDS AVG LP TD
19791154774.24366355.8110
19801889284.954569315.5371
19812551,4285.66219122.020
19822321,6177.0801766010.0350
Totals7904,4505.680471919010.0371

Professional careerEdit

1983–1987: L.A. Rams eraEdit

While he considered going to the Los Angeles Express in the United States Football League, Dickerson decided to go into the National Football League. He was selected second overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. An immediate success, he established rookie records for most rushing attempts (390), most rushing yards gained (1,808) and most touchdowns rushing (18), including another two receiving touchdowns. His efforts earned him All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.[5]

In his second season, Dickerson continued his onslaught on the NFL record book becoming a member of the 2000 rushing yards club. Twelve times in 1984 he gained more than 100 yards rushing, breaking the record of 100-yard games in a season held by O. J. Simpson. His 2,105 total yards rushing beat Simpson’s 1973 NFL season record of 2,003 yards (Dickerson having reached 2,007 yards after 15 games), but since the NFL expanded the regular season from 14 to 16 games in 1978, Dickerson had the benefit of playing in two additional games. No one has since rushed for more yards in a single NFL season. Dickerson's 5.6 yards per carry led the Rams to a playoff berth in 1984.

Week Team Carries Yards Average
1 DAL 21 138 6.6
2 CLE 27 102 3.8
3 at PIT 23 49 2.1
4 at CIN 22 89 4.0
5 NYG 22 120 5.5
6 ATL 19 107 5.6
7 at NO 20 175 8.8
8 at ATL 24 145 6.0
9 SF 13 38 2.9
10 at STL 21 208 9.9
11 CHI 28 149 5.3
12 at GB 25 132 5.3
13 at TB 28 191 6.8
14 NO 33 149 4.5
15 HOU 27 215 8.0
16 at SF 26 98 3.8
1984 TOTAL 379 2,105 5.6

Although he rushed for 1,234 yards in 1985 while missing the first two games while in a contract dispute, he missed the Pro Bowl for the first time in his short NFL career. He did go on to rush for a playoff record 248 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in post-season play.[6]

1987–1991: Indianapolis Colts EraEdit

The 1985 season marked the beginning of on-going contract disputes between Dickerson and the Rams. In 1987, after playing just three games for the Rams during the strike-shortened 1987 season, Dickerson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in one of the NFL's biggest trades ever at that time. In a three-team deal, the Colts traded linebacker Cornelius Bennett, whom they drafted but were unable to sign to a contract, to the Buffalo Bills for their first-round pick in 1988, first- and second-round picks in 1989, and running back Greg Bell. The Colts in turn traded Bell and the three draft choices from Buffalo plus their own first- and second-round picks in 1988, their second round pick in 1989, and running back Owen Gill to the Rams for Dickerson. With the picks the Rams took running back Gaston Green, wide receiver Aaron Cox, linebacker Fred Strickland, running back Cleveland Gary, linebacker Frank Stams, and defensive back Darryl Henley.[7] The trade reunited Dickerson with Ron Meyer, who had left SMU after Dickerson's junior season to take the head coaching position in New England and who was hired by the Colts in 1986 following Rod Dowhower's firing.

Although he played in just nine games with the Colts that year, he still managed to gain 1,011 yards to finish the season with 1,288.[8] Also, he spearheaded a late season Colts run that helped the team to their first winning season (and first playoff berth) in 10 years.

In 1988, Dickerson, with 1,659 yards rushing, became the first Colt to lead the league in rushing since Alan Ameche in 1955. This would mark the apogee of Dickerson's career with the Colts (although he would gain 1,311 yards rushing in 1989). Also, 1989 was the year that he passed the 10,000 yard mark, and was the fastest player ever to do so (91 games), accomplishing the feat faster than greats like Jim Brown (98 games), Barry Sanders (103 games), Emmitt Smith (106 games), and LaDainian Tomlinson (106 games).[9] By 1989, he had set a new NFL record with seven straight seasons of more than 1,000 yards rushing, and led the league for four of those seasons.

However, injuries, further contract disputes, and suspensions clouded his final 2 seasons with the Colts. Dickerson, at 29, was the highest paid running back in the NFL, receiving an annual reported salary of $1.4 million. Following prolonged contract disputes, the fed-up Colts placed him on the inactive list before the start of the 1990 season where he stayed for 7 weeks and lost more than $600,000 in salary. In his sixth game back from suspension, Eric blasted the Bengals defense with 143 yards on 22 attempts—this effort lifted him past Jim Brown to third place on the NFL career rushing list behind Walter Payton and Tony Dorsett. But 1991 was to be dismal and Eric's last year as a Colt. He was again suspended, this time for three games, and amidst injuries and age, managed to run for only 536 yards. The abysmal Colts finished the year bottoming out with a 1-15 record.[10]

1992–1993: The Final YearsEdit

On April 26, 1992, Dickerson was traded by the Colts to the Los Angeles Raiders for their fourth and eighth round picks in the 1992 draft. There were occasional flashes of greatness—107 yards against the Broncos, 103 against the Chargers, where he recorded his 63rd and 64th career 100 yard games—but those would unfortunately be his last. Dickerson also scored on a 40-yard TD run, reminiscent of his prime, in front of a nationally televised Monday Night audience in a game against Kansas City. That year he led the team in rushing attempts and yards.

The following season, Dickerson was traded to the Atlanta Falcons on July 7, 1993 for a sixth round draft pick. He played in a backup role, making his final national televised appearance during the Monday Night Football game on September 27, 1993 when the Falcons hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in a losing effort. The Falcons traded Dickerson and third-year cornerback Bruce Pickens to the Green Bay Packers for running back John Stephens on October 13, 1993.

The trade came a week after Dickerson said he had been told that the Falcons were waiving him because Coach Jerry Glanville wanted to use younger players. The next day, Falcons officials said that there had been a misunderstanding and that Dickerson had not been placed on waivers. Dickerson retired as the 2nd leading rusher of all-time after failing a physical with the Packers.

NFL RecordsEdit

  • Most rushing yards as a rookie- 1808 in 1983
  • Most rushing yards in a season- 2105 in 1984
  • Fastest player to reach 2,000 rushing yards- 18 GP
  • Fastest player to reach 3,000 rushing yards- 27 GP
  • Fastest player to reach 4,000 rushing yards- 33 GP
  • Fastest player to reach 5,000 rushing yards- 45 GP
  • Fastest player to reach 6,000 rushing yards- 53 GP
  • Fastest player to reach 7,000 rushing yards- 63 GP
  • Fastest player to reach 8,000 rushing yards- 73 GP
  • Fastest player to reach 9,000 rushing yards- 82 GP
  • Fastest player to reach 10,000 rushing yards- 91 GP
  • Fastest player to reach 11,000 rushing yards- 103 GP
  • Fastest player to gain 1,000 yards from scrimmage- 7 GP
  • Fastest player to gain 2,000 yards from scrimmage- 14 GP
  • Fastest player to gain 4,000 yards from scrimmage- 30 GP- tied with Edgerrin James
  • Fastest player to gain 7,000 yards from scrimmage- 55 GP
  • Fastest player to gain 8,000 yards from scrimmage- 64 GP

[11]

Career rushing statisticsEdit

Year Team Games Attempts Yards YPC Long TDs
1983 Los Angeles Rams 16 390 1,808 4.6 85 18
1984 Los Angeles Rams 16 379 2,105 5.6 66 14
1985 Los Angeles Rams 14 292 1,234 4.2 43 12
1986 Los Angeles Rams 16 404 1,821 4.5 42 11
1987 Los Angeles Rams 3 60 277 4.6 57 1
1987 Indianapolis Colts 9 223 1,011 4.5 53 5
1988 Indianapolis Colts 16 388 1,659 4.3 41 14
1989 Indianapolis Colts 15 314 1,311 4.2 21 7
1990 Indianapolis Colts 11 166 677 4.1 43 4
1991 Indianapolis Colts 10 167 536 3.2 28 2
1992 Los Angeles Raiders 16 187 729 3.9 40 2
1993 Atlanta Falcons 4 26 91 3.5 10 0
Career 146 2,996 13,259 4.4 85 90

HonorsEdit

Dickerson became the seventh back to gain more than 10,000 yards and the fastest ever to do so, reaching the milestone in just 91 games. During his 11-year career, Dickerson gained 13,259 yards rushing, which was second all-time at the time of his retirement, and rushed for 90 touchdowns. He gained another 2,137 yards and 6 touchdowns on 281 pass receptions. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Dickerson was All-Pro in 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987 and 1988. In 1999, his first year of eligibility, Eric Dickerson was selected to become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also in 1999, he was ranked number 38 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. The following year, he provided on-field commentary during Monday Night Football broadcasts.[12]

The Rams number 29 has been retired.

Dickerson was inducted into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor during the week 15 game against the Houston Texans on December 15, 2013 along with Marshall Faulk, who is also a former Colts running back.[13]

After pro footballEdit

In 1999 he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[14] During the 2007 football season, Dickerson worked as a broadcaster for KCBS television in Los Angeles, providing commentary for NFL pregame and postgame shows. He recently started a sports memorabilia company, with former Los Angeles Rams teammate LeRoy Irvin, called Original Mini Jerseys. The company received their NFL license in 2006 and sells authentic miniature replica jerseys.

Dickerson resides in Calabasas, California.[15]

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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