In the off-season before he set the season-yardage record while playing with the Rams in 1984, Dickerson rarely worked out. When L.A. coach John Robinson first saw Dickerson practice as a rookie, in '83, he kept yelling, "You've got to run faster, Eric," and, "You've got to run faster." Finally, Dickerson said, "Coach, come out and run with me. I'm running as fast as I can."
The memory still tickles Robinson. "He runs without making noise," says Robinson. How can a back be so fluid his pads don't even rattle?
Or maybe its just that football fans have the feeling that Dickerson has never loved to run as much as they thought he should love it.
SEE DICK WORRY
Ten hours after the Denver game, Dickerson endures another night course in American ceilings. Despite a two-hour flight to Los Angeles for an appearance the next night on The Arsenio Hall Show and a three-hour interview with a reporter, he cannot sleep. So he lies in his 10,000-square-foot Malibu mansion and frets. He paces around the house. His mind is a Betamax, replaying the game backward and forward. Visions of Broncos clomp through his head. Maybe I should've run outside there, should've cut it up inside there. It will be like this tomorrow night too. After some losses—like the one to the 49ers that opened the season—he barely sleeps for four nights. "I really want it [winning] bad, worse than a lot of people I play with," he says.
Dickerson is a black-belt worrier. One night he dreamed that he found an old friend, Harold Slaughter, sitting on the end of his bed. "Harold, what are you doing here?" says Dickerson. "You got killed."
"I got killed?"
"Yeah, you got killed in a car accident, and I couldn't make it to the funeral because we had to play. I'm so sorry."
"Oh, don't worry yourself, Dick. I know you would've come."