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Rams’ Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson on Von Miller trade: ‘I thought it was a joke!’

With 100 days to go until Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, Dickerson talked to Turf Show Times about the current Rams, the addition of Miller, L.A. culture, and revealed his Mount Rushmore of running backs

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Eric Dickerson/ Credit: Noël Alva/Discover LA

We’re now officially 100 days away from the Super Bowl returning to Los Angeles on Feb. 13 for the first time since 1993. In our countdown to the big game, Hall of Fame running back and Los Angeles Rams legend Eric Dickerson was kind enough to sit down with Turf Show Times for an exclusive interview from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this week. Dickerson covered a wide range of topics, including his memories of playing in the Coliseum — which hosted the first LA Super Bowl in 1967 — the great sports culture in Los Angeles, and of course, his thoughts on the current LA roster now that Von Miller is pairing up Aaron Donald and the rest of the Rams defense.

Turf Show Times: What were your first thoughts when you heard about the Rams and Broncos’ Von Miller trade?
Eric Dickerson: When I first heard it, I thought it was a joke! I thought they were trying to get him. I didn’t know they were going to get him. I know we traded one of our linebackers … traded Kenny Young. And then I read we were trying to loosen up some money, and I’m like “for what???” But I knew we needed linebacker help, but getting Von Miller, I mean, when I say that’s a plus, that’s a plus for this football team. It takes the pressure off of Von Miller also because he has been that guy in Denver for so long. Aaron Donald has been that guy here. So when you have two of those guys, it makes it that much more tough for an offensive line to block and scheme because you have to scheme, you really do. They have to scheme for Von Miller. They have to scheme for Aaron Donald. I think it’s great for him [Miller]. I think it’s great for our team. I know it’s going to be great for Aaron Donald, for sure.

TST: From a running back perspective, what do you think the game plan preparation would be like against this defensive front in terms of trying to slow down that pass rush?Dickerson: Oh man. That’s a great question. That’s no fun man, I’m telling you. I can remember when we had to game plan for Lawrence Taylor. To try to game plan for a guy like Von Miller, they would say “We’re not going to leave the back in the backfield by himself to try and block a guy like Von Miller.” If the tackle can help, if somebody can come in and help ... sometimes we put the tight end on that side to help block. So that’s going to be one of the issues with trying to block a guy like Von Miller coming off the edge. Aaron’s a guy that’s in the middle. Sometimes they put him on the end, but if you put both of those guys on the same side or one on one side and one on the other, it just makes it that much tougher for an offense. And the big thing about it is, I think both of these guys, they play the run very well. You have certain pass rushers that don’t play the run very well. Which is good; they just want to pass rush. But these guys, Aaron Donald and Von Miller, they play the run very well. And for a running back, that’s no fun.

TST: What do you think it would be like for you personally to have been a player with this head coach, general manager, ownership combination where they’re both aggressively active on continuing to make the roster better and still being able to pay top guys the top guy money?
Dickerson: It makes me sad thinking about it. I would have probably played my whole career in L.A. I think it’s great when players that want to come here. And you want to come here because you have a great head coach, a great organization, and you’re winning. They all go hand in hand. I would have loved to play for this Rams organization. It was way different back when I played. It was just a different time. But I think any player that gets a chance to come here and play under Coach McVay, and to play with the great defense we have, Raheem Morris our new defensive coordinator, they’re very fortunate. And like I said before, look! It’s November! When I was playing and it was in October or November, you would see on TV like in Green Bay and Cincinnati, they’re freezing cold and we’re out here in shorts. And it hasn’t changed in 30 years. So, who wouldn’t want to play in L.A.? And you’re winning? And you got the best stadium in the National Football League?

If you could create a Mt. Rushmore of running backs, what would that mountain look like?Dickerson: My favorite running back was O.J.(Simpson). That was my guy because he was the first guy to have 2,000 yards. He was big and tall and fast, like me. Being tall, I was told I couldn’t play running back. So I’d have to have O.J. I’d have to have Walter Payton and I’d have Jim Brown. I’ll leave myself off. I have to have Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell. You’re talking about, to me, iconic guys. If I look at players right now, I would most definitely want Derrick Henry. He’s a big guy. Big, physical, he’s faster than what you think he is. I saw Derrick two years ago, almost three years ago at an event and I was shocked. I’m a big guy. I’m 6’3, I played at 225. He’s 6’4 maybe 245 which is a big difference. But I like him. I like Saquon Barkley. I like Saquon. I just feel like Saquon in New York, it’s not his fault. He’s on a team where he has to do everything. Not a lot of help. Ezekiel Elliot is another guy…My friend Marshal Faulk. There’s just so many great backs that are out there people don’t even remember. Like I said, Earl Campbell. A lot of people don’t remember Earl Campbell. I remember Earl Campbell.

TST: We’re talking to you from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, what were some of your most memorable moments there ?
Dickerson: The stadium was iconic. It really was. I had never even been to the Coliseum until I played with the Raiders. The Rams played here before I got here, then they moved down to Anaheim. But being in this stadium, I mean, it just brings back so many memories. Jessie Owens in the Olympics, the Super Bowls they’ve had here in the stadium ... Just being here in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, think about all of the great USC teams that played here before. It gave me the chills. Also, I got recruited to come to USC and I remember when I first got here, I sat right in that section with the coaches when SC played, I think Michigan, for the National Championship.

Eric Dickerson at the LA Coliseum/ Credit: Noël Alva/Discover LA

TST: What does it mean to the city of Los Angeles with Super Bowl LVI being a sort of kickoff to an unbelievable decade of top sporting events coming to L.A., including the MLB All-Star Game (2022), College Football Playoff National Championship (2023), U.S. Open (2023), and Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games (2028)?
Dickerson: I think it’s fantastic but I think it’s going to be good for fans to come here also that have never been to Los Angeles, never been to California. Look behind me! It’s L.A.! It’s sunshine here almost 300 days out of the year. So you can’t beat it. SoFi stadium, when you walk in you’re going to go “wow.” That’s all you can say. We have so many sports teams [in L.A.]. You’ve got the Lakers here. You’ve got the Dodgers here. You’ve got the Rams here. You’ve got the Chargers here. You got USC, UCLA, UCLA basketball. You have so many great things in this city to do. You’ve got the desert, you’ve got the beach. So when people come to Los Angeles, sometimes it won’t be just for sports. It’s a destination. And I’ll tell you this much here: when people come they’ll want to move here. That’ll be one of the problems and they’ll add to the traffic problem that we already have.

TST: What are some things you’re doing with the L.A. tourism and convention board?
Dickerson: Well, I think talking about L.A. Talking about the city of Los Angeles. Like some of the iconic things to do here, like the Roosevelt Hotel. It’s kind of iconic here. In L.A., you got the rooftop with the pools on a lot of the hotels because the weather’s always so nice. During the day, it’s always 85 or 90 degrees here … it’s cool at night, but it’s just so much to do.

What can you tell us about your upcoming book Watch My Smoke, coming out in January 2022?
Dickerson: The thing about the book is it just tells my story. It tells my life as a football player, my life coming up. I have a lot of stories in that book. I think a lot of people don’t know, that I was legally adopted. My name was not Dickerson, it was really Seals. And how I found out about my dad and my dad played football at one point. And the guy that told me said, “Man your dad, your family, they were some running backs. They could run. And when I saw you, I knew it was you. You were the one they were talking about.” So it’s a lot of stories in there about that. Just all kinds of different things about playing in L.A. Life in L.A., and just playing in the National Football League. And growing up in Texas under my mother Viola Dickerson and Kary Dickerson.

Watch the full video of our interview with Dickerson below: