THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Eric Dickerson has never held back while pointing out the Los Angeles Rams' shortcomings. Last year, in the team's first year back in Los Angeles, the Hall of Fame running back continually bashed their offensive line, their offense as a whole and even their quarterbacks coach. It became so pointed and recurrent that Jeff Fisher felt the need to call him and, in Dickerson's mind, deny him sideline passes. So Dickerson went on the offensive against Fisher, right up until the day the Rams fired him as their head coach. Since then, Dickerson has been critical of the front office and has even called for Sean Mannion to start over Jared Goff, last year's No. 1 overall pick.
But now Dickerson is actually employed by the Rams.
On Tuesday, he signed a one-day contract to officially retire with the team he still roots for. He also agreed to become the Rams' vice president of business development, a role that will make him a front-facing employee for charitable and promotional endeavors. But Dickerson is also an NFL analyst on Fox. He has his own radio show in Los Angeles, on AM 570. And, well, he has admittedly "never been a guy to pull it back." The fans love him for it.
So, will Dickerson continue to bash the Rams?
He laughed at the thought on Tuesday afternoon, while flanked by first-year head coach Sean McVay and sixth-year general manager Les Snead at the podium.
"I'll keep it real with what I talk about," Dickerson said. "I'm fair. You know, I want to be fair. And I always say, 'It's always my truth.' It might not be everyone else's truth, but it's what I believe. And it's no matter what the situation is; if it's about myself, the football team, the organization or whatever. It is what it is. ... Sometimes people say, 'You're too honest.' But that's the only way I know.”
Dickerson was one of the Rams' biggest stars during their previous stint in Los Angeles, playing with them for four full seasons after being selected No. 2 overall in the 1983 draft. He set the rookie single-season record for rushing yards with 1,808 in 1983 and the overall single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards in 1984, both of which still stand. Dickerson amassed 6,986 rushing yards and 55 touchdowns in his first four seasons, but the Rams traded him to the Indianapolis Colts as part of a blockbuster three-team deal early in the 1987 campaign.
Dickerson said his "heart was broken" after that trade.
"I played hard for them, and I still pull for the Rams. Even when I came back into the Ram family, years after I retired, I still pull for my football team. Just like last year. It was a rough year for the team, but no matter what, I still pull for the team. I love the football team."
Dickerson was actually the one who reached out to COO Kevin Demoff a couple of months ago to ask if he could retire with the Rams, 24 years after his final season. He wanted it done on Aug. 29, to line up with his jersey number. And he wanted it with the team back in Los Angeles. He felt it was "the perfect spot, the perfect time."
Eventually the Rams obliged. They temporarily waived their backup kicker, Travis Coons, to fit Dickerson on their full roster for the day, and they gave Dickerson what he wanted -- a news conference to announce that he was symbolically retiring with his favorite organization, and a title that ensures he will have a role with it. Dickerson described the feeling as "getting drafted all over again."
"I love my life," Dickerson said. "Let's just put it like that."
In his new role, Dickerson wants to "really get into the community" and will also take part in the effort of "trying to get people to come to our new stadium, sell the luxury suites."
"That's a part of my job that I'm hoping I'll be good at," said Dickerson, who finished his career with 13,259 rushing yards, seventh-most all time. "I know I'll be good at it, just put it like that. I know me. But the most important thing, and I keep saying this, is putting a good product on the field. When you put a good product on the field, you won't have a problem selling anything."