Yesterday afternoon, the story broke that former Los Angeles Rams RB Eric Dickerson had been banned from the Rams’ sideline.
Fan reaction was swift and overwhelming in support of Dickerson and for obvious reasons. The Hall of Famer who spent his first five NFL seasons with the Rams breaking numerous NFL records certainly is looked upon by fans with more gratitude than the current era of mediocrity defining the teams. Given the team’s continued dismissal of criticism and the nonchalance expressed toward that mediocrity, it’s no surprise that the immediate reaction of the large majority of fans swayed in favor of Dickerson.
Playing off that initial support, Rams Executive Vice President of Football Operations and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff took to Twitter to express the franchise’s support for Dickerson and a promise to unravel the “miscommunication” and “clear up any confusion.”
Apparently, that support isn’t needed by Dickerson. He took to AMA 570 LA Sports yesterday, the local Fox Sports Radio affiliate, claiming that it was Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher himself who called Dickerson to inform him of the ban:
I’ma say the word. They say “banned”, or they said they feel “uncomfortable”, this is how the conversation went.
And I didn’t, I never would’ve said Jeff Fisher unless he said something, I just said it was “upper management.” I never wanted to say it was Jeff Fisher or whoever from the Rams organization because he said it, you know, the conversation we had between he and I.
He called may and said, “Hey this is Jeff Fisher.”
I said, “How you doing Jeff.”
And he said, “Look, I just want to call you and just tell you this and say look. We’re as the Rams, we’re not gonna have you talking about the team and asking things from the team and we’re not gonna do that.”
And when he said, “asking from the team,” I had asked for some sideline passes for some buddies to go on the sideline and myself. I don’t have to have them because I have a sideline pass from the Hall of Fame, but I did give the courtesy of the Rams to call them.
So as I he talked to me, he said, “We’re not gonna do that. We’re not gonna have you talking about the team and then have you come on the sideline and stuff. The players feel uncomfortable with you on the sideline. As long as I’m head coach here, you know, you can come to the games, but you’re not welcome on our sideline. The players are uncomfortable with it.”
I said, “You don’t have to ever worry about me coming to a game again. I don’t want nobody to feel uncomfortable with me on the sideline.”
He said, “Nah Eric, that’s not...”
I said, “As long as you head coach, you don’t ever have to worry about ever seeing me at a Rams game again.” And that was the end of that call.
There’s plenty else in the interview (including a worthwhile clip on Britney Spears), but the pull is simply that ED is claiming, and I’m using that word out of caution, that Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher called ED personally to tell him he’s not welcome on the sideline.
That’s a claim that certainly doesn’t line up with what Fisher said at his Monday press conference yesterday:
I don’t know where that’s coming from...We welcome the alums. We welcome the tradition and the history. Eric has not been to practice. The last time I saw Eric in person was at Oaks Christian High School in a walk-thru prior to going out to practice against the Cowboys.
He’s always welcomed, yeah. I’d welcome him in the building. I’d love to have him come in. I’d love to have him come to practice. I’d love to have him in come in the meetings. (Former Titans RB) Eddie George has been in my meetings more than Eric Dickerson has. I’d love to have him here.
Suffice to say, this is a developing story that I doubt we’ve heard the last of.
As it stands, an outspoken franchise hero, whether it’s fair or not and whether it has been communicated properly or if something was lost in translation, feels ostracized from that very franchise in their first year back in the city he played in.
However this gets resolved, it’s an uncomfortable outcome and a bad look for a franchise that is struggling to capture its home market’s attention in the midst of what looks to be a 13th consecutive season without a winning record.