Eric Demetric Dickerson (born September 2 1960) is a former professional running back in the National Football League (NFL) who in his career played for the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, and Atlanta Falcons. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, known for his effortless, fluid style of running.
Initially, he shared carries with Craig James and Charles Waggoner, all three blue-chip recruits in 1979. Waggoner got hurt returning a kickoff their freshmen season, so Dickerson and James led SMU's Pony Express system, a system that neither Dickerson nor James liked at first. However, he started to like the system and his stats reflected the success he had with it as he 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. He was also a two-time All-America choice during his time at SMU
In his sophomore season, Dickerson continued his onslaught of the NFL record book. Eleven times during that season 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 in the 1984 NFL season beat Simpson’s 1973 NFL season record of 2003 yards rushing in a single season. To date, no one has rushed for more yards in a single NFL season. However, it should be noted that Simpson's career high rushing total came in a 14-game season, whereas Dickerson's mark was set during a 16-game season. But it should also be noted that Dickerson's 5.6 yards per carry led the Rams to a playoff berth in 1984, while Simpson's Bills missed the playoffs and were widely criticized for focusing more on O.J.'s rushing stats as opposed to trying to win games.
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, however, go on to rush for a playoff record 248 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in post-season play.
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 gained over 10,000 yards rushing, and was the fastest player every 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]]. 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. Although Dickerson, at 29, was the highest paid running back in the NFL, living single on an annual reported salary of $1.4 million, with a mansion in Malibu and a fleet of cars including a $300,000 Ferrari Testarossa, he was visibly unhappy. 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 a close second to 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.
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.
|1983||Los Angeles Rams||16||390||1,808||4.6||18|
|1984||Los Angeles Rams||16||379||2,105||5.6||14|
|1985||Los Angeles Rams||14||292||1,234||4.2||12|
|1986||Los Angeles Rams||16||404||1,821||4.5||11|
|1987||Los Angeles Rams||3||60||277||4.6||1|
|1992||Los Angeles Raiders||16||187||729||3.9||2|
The Rams number 29 has been retired, but the Colts number 29 is currently worn by Joseph Addai.
As of the 2007 football season, Dickerson was working as a broadcaster for KCBS television in Los Angeles, providing commentary for that station's NFL pregame and postgame shows. He recently started a sports memorbilia company with former Los Angeles Rams teammate, LeRoy Irvin, called Original Mini Jerseys. The company received their NFL license in 2006 and has begun selling authentic miniature replica jerseys to sports fans and players across the nation.