THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Eric Dickerson has signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Los Angeles Rams, reuniting the famous running back with his first NFL franchise.
The Rams formalized the deal at their training complex Tuesday, with Dickerson wearing his Hall of Fame blazer to complete the paperwork.
Dickerson set the single-season NFL rushing record and suited up for four playoff teams during his tenure with the Rams from 1983-87. He is still among the most popular players in franchise history, with his jersey frequently outnumbering those of any current player in the Coliseum stands.
"I’m really happy for this moment, because even when I left the Rams, I was always a Ram," Dickerson said. "I was always a Los Angeles Ram. I never wanted to leave this football team when I got traded. My heart was broken, just like a lot of fans’ hearts were broken that day."
Dickerson also became a vice-president of business development with the Rams, who returned home to Los Angeles last year after 21 seasons in St. Louis. Dickerson will be involved in fan outreach efforts as the Rams attempt to cement their primacy in Southern California after the relocation of the Chargers.
The 56-year-old Dickerson and the Rams have healed the rift created last year by former coach Jeff Fisher’s reaction to Dickerson’s criticism of the team while the Rams went 4-12. Chief operating officer Kevin Demoff led the Rams’ efforts to bring Dickerson back into the fold with a ceremonial retirement and a prominent role in the team’s public presence in Los Angeles.
General manager Les Snead and coach Sean McVay joined Dickerson at a jovial news conference to announce the move.
"My thing is I’m all about the fans," said Dickerson, who will continue to do a radio show and television appearances. "Coach, I’m letting you know right now, if you play well, I’m going to say you’re playing well. If you ain’t playing good, you’re going to hear it from me. I’m your biggest fan and your biggest critic, and that’s just me. I love this football team. I want my team to win."
Dickerson is the most iconic player of the Rams’ later years in Southern California while they played at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The No. 2 overall pick out of SMU in 1983 set a rookie record with 1,808 yards rushing and topped it with an NFL-record 2,105 yards in 1984.
Dickerson spent just over four seasons with the Rams, enduring contract disputes before getting traded to the Indianapolis Colts three games into the 1987 season. He also suited up for the Los Angeles Raiders and Atlanta before his career ended in 1993.
While he left LA abruptly, Dickerson has been behind the franchise since the Rams announced their return in early 2016. Dickerson, who lives in the Los Angeles area, spoke out strongly in favour of the move and backed the team when it relocated from St. Louis.
But Dickerson and the Rams split when the running back publicly criticized Fisher’s team during a lengthy losing skid last fall. Fisher asked Dickerson to lighten his criticism, and Dickerson responded by ripping the Rams even more. Fisher was fired last December.