In honor of Super Bowl LXI, where the Los Angeles Rams face the Cincinnati Bengals, we revisit our Classic podcast with legendary Rams running back Eric Dickerson.
Eric was the most highly touted high school recruit in the country in 1977 and went on to play for Southern Methodist University. Eric opens up about how he experienced racism in high school and his decision to play at SMU. He also shares his thoughts on college athletics.
“The NCAA are the biggest criminals of all. The NCAA is run by, no offense, just by a bunch of white guys, who go off the back of black and white kids and make they make millions of dollars. And the kids make nothing,” Eric said. “Yes, you get a scholarship, but the football program could not exist without the players. The jersey can’t run around by itself.”
He was the second overall pick in the NFL Draft in 1983 and signed with the Rams. Eric soon became an asset to the team. He gained more than 1,000 yards each of his first four seasons with the team and rushed for 1,234 yards in 1985.
“I shot many games with you back your Rams days in the early 80s, and, man, it’s hard keeping up with you. I mean, seriously, you just blew through the line. It was crazy,” Andy said.
“I was always fast. I love to run. When I was younger, even in high school and college, running was so easy. I can remember the wind blowing in my face. It’s just so great being fast, Eric said. “Maybe I’ll go back to it because I was out on the track two days ago running with my daughter. She runs track and I can’t run it anymore but I’m telling you, I used to love to run.”
After his record-breaking season in 1985, Eric bought his offensive line diamond rings customized with “2105” the number of yards he rushed. The year before, he and quarterback Vince Ferragamo chipped in to buy watches for the offensive line.
“You have to appreciate all of those guys that lay on the line. They don’t get the accolades. Those offensive linemen, for me, were great,” Eric said.
Despite his impressive performances, Eric describes being undervalued by the Rams and his dislike of the organization.
“I was supposed to be a superstar and treated me badly, imagine what they were doing to everyone else. But I’ll say this much. I love playing for the Rams. I really did. I still am a Ram. Even when I left that team, I still love them. I still watch them. My teammates, I love them, I still love the uniform but I just didn’t like the organization.”
Eric shares a piece of advice that guided him and shaped his work ethic.
“My dad had a saying, ‘son, it takes a second to get in trouble and a lifetime to get out. In all that you do, do with your might, things done by half are never done right. So do it 100%.’ That was my thing. Even if I was when I was pissed at the Rams with the negotiations. I still played hard. I played hard and practiced hard. I was unhappy with them but I had obligations to my teammates.”
A 1987 trade sent him to the Indianapolis Colts. With 1,659 yards rushing, he became the first Colt to lead the league in rushing since Alan Ameche in 1955. Eric was the seventh running back to gain more than 10,000 yards and reached the milestone in just 91 games.
“I was big on hard work. When I’m running in practice, practice to me was like the game. You run a run all the way out. I worked hard,” said Eric. “Before the game, I would sit in my locker and just think, just meditate. I was a big dreamer. I would always dream about having a big run. Sometime, the night beforeI would dream about having a big run in the game or having a big play.”
Hear about his 2,000+ yard season, why it was so important for him to retire as a member of the Rams, and more.