Earlier Monday, on Dickerson’s own Los Angeles-based radio show, he said, “Someone from upper management called me and said that I make the players feel uncomfortable about some of the stuff I’ve said on the radio, and they don’t want me on the sidelines. Basically, they didn’t want me at the games.”
Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, subsequently said on Twitter, “All Rams alumni, and especially Eric Dickerson, are always welcome at our games and practices. I have reached out to Eric to see where a miscommunication may have occurred and to clear up any confusion over his presence at games.
“Most importantly I want to make sure he knows that he is a valued member of [the] Rams’ NFL family. We all share his love for our team and our fans.”
Following those comments, Fisher addressed the issue at his media availability Monday. “I don’t know where that’s coming from. I saw Kevin responded via Twitter a couple of hours ago. I had a really good conversation with Eric last week. … We welcome the alums,” the coach told reporters (via Turf Show Times).
Asked if Dickerson was, in fact, welcomed on the Rams’s sideline, Fisher replied, “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. … I’d love to have him here.”
That contrasts sharply with Dickerson’s account. He told Liz Habib, a sports anchor at KTTV in Los Angeles, that Fisher had called him and said, “As long as I’m head coach, you’re not welcome on the sideline.”
“As long as you’re head coach, you don’t ever have to worry about ever seeing me at a Rams game again,” Dickerson said he told Fisher, in comments made to Jason Smith of Fox Sports Radio. He said that he’d gotten the call about 10 days ago, and that he told the coach, “First of all, I wore the Rams uniform. You could get fired, [General Manager] Les Snead could get fired, Kevin Demoff could get fired, but I will always be Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams.”
“How dare you have the audacity to call me with that nonsense,” Dickerson said of Fisher to Smith. About the coach’s “really good conversation” comment, Dickerson said, “The good conversation came after I let him know what time it was. … Then he backed down.”
Dickerson added that he did not even desire attending Rams games but had asked for some extra sideline passes as a favor to friends of his. “I want to go to a football game about as much as I want to tie a bloody steak around my neck and jump into the Pacific Ocean buck naked,” he told Smith.
It’s not as if the 56-year-old Dickerson, who set NFL records for single-season and rookie rushing yardage with the Rams (and also played for the Colts, Raiders and Falcons), has no basis for criticizing his former team. It’s in its first season back in Los Angeles after moving from St. Louis, but it has remained mired in mediocrity, getting off to a 4-7 start, this after not having a winning record in four previous seasons under Coach Jeff Fisher.
NFL reporter Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report opined on Twitter that “the Rams official who told Eric Dickerson that [about the players] probably lied. I doubt players are uncomfortable with anything Dickerson said. This sounds more like management being upset with what Dickerson said and blaming the players.”
Jeff Fisher has reportedly been on thin ice, and this episode, combined with his team’s continued struggles, surely can’t help his job security. Dickerson is far more popular among the Rams’ fan base, especially with the team back in Los Angeles, where he had his greatest on-field exploits, and it’s a bad look at the very least for the coach to be seen as having tried to suppress the former running back’s critical commentary.