There’s no doubt that professional teams are concerned about the content flying around in today’s blogosphere. Damn near everybody has a show and blue check marks are being handed out on Twitter like they’re candy. Given the proliferation of experts on social media, teams have become more and more conscious about those they credential and those they allow around team activities. But surely ex-players in the NFL Hall of Fame aren’t subject to towing this line, right?
As Former Rams great Eric Dickerson found out today, he’s no longer wanted on the LA sideline because he “makes some of the players uncomfortable.” You heard that right, Rams fans.
Was it fair? Let’s look at that, shall we?
Here is what Dickerson said today about the Rams organization and their losing habits.
Simple enough, no harm, and Dickerson actually has a point. Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher has been in charge of this team for almost five years and he’s just about guaranteed to finish all five seasons with a losing record. Try to find another head coach around the league with five straight losing seasons and a job. It doesn’t exist. To Dickerson’s point, he’s got one, whether Fisher likes it or not.
But these days it’s not always about what you say so much as how you say it. Here is where the Rams organization also has a point. It’s not like Dickerson is leaving things at “the Rams simply aren’t winning enough games.” He’s certainly found a way to go a couple steps beyond that in his criticism, even so far as to say that games were an embarrassment to the fans and the city of Los Angeles.
I interviewed Eric for Turf Show Times recently, and he was fairly reasonable in his assessment of the Rams. He did say that this team has habitually fallen back on saying they were a young team, which is true. He did say that it seemed odd that rookie franchise QB Jared Goff didn’t start until Week 10, which is true. He also said that people in Los Angeles have better things to do than to watch the same team lose week after week, which is also true. Fair, right?
Well, then you have to consider how the Rams probably felt when they read some of the less fair things he’s probably said about the organization. Like the time Eric Dickerson called the Rams “boring as hell” and destroyed Rams quarterback coach Chris Weinke. Probably not fair. Or the time he said the Rams wouldn’t make the playoffs when they were just 4-5 and still had it all to play for. Probably not fair. That was also when ED said that the Rams didn’t have the right coaches for Goff and that he looked “scared” to play.
I’m sure you could go through his Twitter timeline and find some other gems, but this is more about the fractured relationship that many people seem to have with the current coaching regime in Los Angeles. To defend Dickerson for a moment, he’s far from the only Hall of Fame player to take aim at Jeff Fisher during his tenure. Former Buffalo Bills RB Thurman Thomas, another great NFL back, also said that the Rams’ head coach had outgrown his usefulness in today’s NFL:
What I’m sure the organization will point to about Thomas’ opinions is that they came on Dickerson’s show. They might well believe Dickerson has begun to use his show as a tool to force change within the Rams organization. For a team that has gone 31-43-1 over the last five seasons, that might not be such a bad thing, but their point is understood.
Today’s media is less about your actual ability to cover the team and more about what you will or won’t say in favor of the team. Many reporters across the nation have had their credentials revoked because they didn’t toe the company line. It’s a dangerous weapon against free speech, but not one that teams will shy away from using and it looks like the Rams have opted to use it with Dickerson.
Here’s the problem that the Rams now face: they have to prove that Dickerson went too far and that they’re actually better than what he’s saying. Right now, that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case.
The New Orleans Saints dropped an NFL-high 49 points on the Rams this past week and the vast majority of it was because they wanted to, they could, and for some motivated levels of vengeance leveled at current Rams Defensive Coordinator and former Saints DC Gregg Williams. These are the kind of results that make fans scratch their heads and wonder who is running the ship...and why they’re allowed to continue running it.
Whether or not Dickerson is welcome back on the sideline is a matter of time, opinion, and the Rams’ front office decision makers. The important thing to remember here is that Eric Dickerson gave his life to this organization. He literally poured blood, sweat and tears on the field for the Los Angeles Rams and this franchise’s fans. If there is anyone who has a right to talk about the state of the franchise, Dickerson has to be up there with Norm Van Brocklin and Isaac Bruce.
With that said, Dickerson is likely going to learn a lesson that everyone in the media has had to learn at one time or another — it doesn’t matter much what you say as much as how you say it.
Cheer up, ED. You’re always welcome on our sidelines at Turf Show Times.
Editor’s note: TST is not credentialed by the Rams. All of our contact with the front office has been professional. Their justification for denying us access is a ban on providing credentials to “blogs, independent websites, and digital media outlets” credentials:
Only website and digital media outlets owned or affiliated with one of the NFLཿs major television broadcast partners (i.e. FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN, NFLN) or those owned by a long-standing national publication (ex: Sports Illustrated) will be considered for access.
To our knowledge, their decision is not based on our coverage nor the team’s record.
UPDATED at 8:01pm ET
Rams Executive Vice President of Football Operations and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff fired off a trio of tweets in response to this story:
All Rams alumni, and especially @EricDickerson, are always welcome at our games and practices.— Kevin Demoff (@kdemoff) November 28, 2016
I have reached out to Eric to see where a miscommunication may have occurred & to clear up any confusion over his presence at games.— Kevin Demoff (@kdemoff) November 28, 2016