The last time Eric Dickerson played a down in a Rams' uniform they were the Los Angeles Rams. You have to go all the way back to 1987 in order to find his name on Rams depth chart. Dickerson gave them four of his best years before being traded in '87 to the Indianapolis Colts in one of the more surprising trades in NFL history.
Even though it's been over 20 years since Dickerson's days with the Rams, he still follows the team closely.
Earlier this week, Eric was kind enough to spend some time answering questions I had about the current state of the Rams, Sam Bradford, FansChoice.com, and rookie contracts.
Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments section below.
Bear Heiser: Steven Jackson just broke your long time record of most rush yards in a Rams uniform. That's pretty impressive. He's a move the chains type runner—consistent as they come—but doesn't seem to get recognized for it. Why do you think he goes unnoticed around the NFL?
Eric Dickerson: It’s simple—he plays on a bad team. Any player who plays on a bad team has trouble getting the same attention as players who play on winning teams. It happened for years. Players like Curtis Martin, Barry Sanders and even at the time Walter Payton didn’t get the recognition they deserved because when you play on teams that are 3-13, 4-12, you don’t get the ink.
Which player do you start your franchise with?
BH: Even with a Pro Bowl runner, they've been a pass first team with a rookie quarterback under center. What are your thoughts on their offensive game plan?
ED: They have done a good job with their offensive game plan because they keep Sam within himself. They have to extend him sometimes, because it’s football and you have to win, but they’ve done a good job mixing it up with Stephen Jackson.
BH: Sam Bradford has led the Rams to four wins in his rookie season, doubling their total from a year ago. What has he brought to the Rams? Describe his impact.
ED: Sam has given the Rams something they’ve needed since Kurt Warner left: a quarterback! He’s gotten people excited about the future. Like any young quarterback, he needs to study, study, study, study and keep improving, but hopefully with Sam people will start paying more attention to the Rams.
BH: When did the NFL turn into a pass first league?
ED: It still depends on certain teams that pass more over running. Some offensive lines aren’t up to the challenge of running against NFL defenses. But the biggest factor is that the defensive backs can’t put their hands on the receivers with the new rules. You’ll see a receiver who has a “bad” season, with 40-45 catches—and that’s a “bad” season. It’s because the defensive backs can’t cover them with the rules.
BH: Do you agree or disagree with the Rams decision to pass on Randy Moss?
ED: I disagree. They should have taken him—he would have been a huge weapon. Why wouldn’t they take him? I was hoping they would take him because an NFL team needs receivers like a dead man needs a casket.
BH: What are your overall feelings about rookie contracts? Are you at all bothered by how bloated they've become since you entered the league back in '83?
ED: Not really bothered by it. In the NFL, you have a short shelf life. As a running back, if you’re the first pick, and you’re NFL life expectancy is only 3.5-6 years, your first big contract might not come until three years in—well, you might never get there. They need to get those signing bonuses up front because nothing is guaranteed. In the NFL they talk about “contracts,” but it’s not really a contract, it’s a one year agreement. If you have a 10 year contract, it means nothing. If you get cut in the NFL, you get nothing. People don’t talk about that.
BH: Expansion or relocation? Which brings an NFL franchise to LA first?
BH: Did you hear Charles Barkley gave up golfing right handed? He now plays lefty.
ED: I love golf. But do you know how I got good at golf? Because of Charles Barkley. I was playing with Charles, Michael Jordan and Roy Green, and Charles was talking so much trash. On every shot, he was talking trash. So I left the tournament, and I went and practiced for a year and half. I got really good, and then I ran into Charles again in Seattle. So I said let’s play again, $500 for the best round. And Charles said “Okay.” After 5 holes, I was up about 9 strokes. And Charles said, “How did you get so good?”
BH: I heard you were doing some work with fanschoice.com. Tell me a little bit about your involvement?
ED: Fans can go to www.fanschoice.com and share their choice for who they think should be in the Hall of Fame. Fans can go on there and argue and vote for who they think should be inducted into the Class of 2011, and the election committee. Even though the votes don’t count, they get to make their voice heard to the selection committee, and the fans’ selections will be announced this February in Dallas. Right now, too much power is with the sportswriters, so this is a great opportunity to make the case for the players that are getting forgotten about.