There is no better time to look at the Indianapolis Colts current Hall of Famer. This guy started off the trend of great Colts running backs. It’s been a while since the Colts haven’t had a perennial Pro Bowler at running back, and this back out of Southern Methodist was the first to run for 1,000 yards with the Indianapolis Colts.
Eric Dickerson was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams with the second pick of the 1983 NFL Draft. Dickerson didn’t wait long to become a star.
In his first two seasons, he ran for a combined 3913 yards and scored 32 rushing touchdowns. His sophomore season was the first 2,000 yard season since OJ Simpson in 1973. Dickerson still holds the record at 2,105 yards.
After his phenomenal year, contract disputes began with the Rams. He still topped 1200 yards in 1985 and 1986, but the two sides never came to a full agreement. Eric Dickerson went on the trading block.
Dickerson played three games with the Rams in 1987 before one of the biggest trades in NFL history went down. The three way trade between the Rams, Colts, and Buffalo Bills ended up with the Rams getting running back Greg Bell, 3 first round draft picks, the Bills getting Cornelius Bennett, and the Colts getting Dickerson. For the first time since Alan Ameche was on the Baltimore squad in the 50s, the Colts had a Pro Bowl-caliber running back.
Dickerson ended up playing 9 games with the Colts in 1987, and he reached 1000 yards, keeping his career-long streak going. Dickerson led the Colts to the playoffs for the first time in Indianapolis, where they lost to the Cleveland Browns in the first round. Even though they had an early bounce from the playoffs, the Colts found their running back of the future.
The next season, Dickerson did not miss a step in his first full year with the Colts. Dickerson ran for 1659 yards, which was good enough to get the league-wide rushing title. The Colts went 9-7 and missed the playoffs, but Dickerson was not to blame. Jack Trudeau was the quarterback, so that’s a good reason why the Colts missed the playoffs.
In 1989, Eric Dickerson passed the highly regarded milestone of 10,000 rushing yards. Dickerson rushed for 1311 yards, which put him at 11,226 yards for his career. Dickerson again could not put the Colts in the playoffs, as they went 8-8. However, this was their third straight year of being .500 or better, so the team was flourishing under Dickerson.
1990 is infamous for the Colts making the worst draft pick in the history of their team. They took the moustached nightmare named Jeff George number one overall. George is a perfect example on why taking a player because of where he went to high school is a terrible, terrible idea. Jeff George went to Warren Central, a high school on the west side of Indianapolis. Although Warren Central has been great recently, George was an awful quarterback. The Colts gave up Andre Rison to get the bust, and this hurt the entire game. George had a fine rookie year, but that didn’t continue. Eric Dickerson was the problem with this team. Dickerson held out of training camp because of contract disputes, and the Colts suspended him for four games. I wish teams today still had the balls to suspend their stars for acting like whiny little girls. Now they get cut only when being arrested around 7 times in a four hour period. Dickerson only rushed for 677 yards, and his career went downward.
In 1991, the Colts completely collapsed. Eric Dickerson was once again suspended for three games and only rushed for 536 yards. The Colts only won one game, which was against the Jets in the Meadowlands. Dickerson had a terrible year and was being a jerk about his contract, which was worth 1.4 million dollars a year, which was very high at that time.
The Colts finally got fed up with Dickerson and traded him to the Los Angeles Raiders for their fourth and eighth round draft picks in the 1992 NFL Draft. Dickerson ran for 729 yards in 1992 with the Raiders and ran for 91 yards with the Falcons a year later. Dickerson retired with 13,259 yards, placing him second all-time. For the Colts, he had 5194 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns in five contraversial yet productive seasons.
Dickerson was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999, and he is still the only member of the Indianapolis Colts to be enshrined in Canton. So when you are in Canton for the Colts first preseason game, remember to go see the plaque of the Colts’ first true superstar of the Indianapolis era.