The act is growing old. Dickerson turns 30 on Sept. 2, and though he's on an NFL-record streak of seven seasons with at least 1,000 yards rushing, most NFL personnel directors think his pay fits his play. Dickerson is due to make $1.45 million this year, the highest base salary any back is scheduled to receive in '90. When the Colts gave Dickerson permission to talk to other teams this spring, in hopes of working out a trade with another club, no team took the bait. "It's hard for me to imagine a team taking him," one NFL general manager says. "The problem is most teams view him as uncontrollable."
Thus the call to Steinberg, who has a great relationship with Jim Irsay through their dealings with other Colts represented by Steinberg. In fact, after Dickerson placed his call, Irsay told Steinberg, "Please, get involved."
Steinberg immediately went to work on damage control, convincing Dickerson he had to play this year—in Indianapolis, where he reported Monday, or elsewhere. In truth, the Colts and their bitter employee have one thing in common: They both would like to see Dickerson in another uniform. But a trade appears problematic. Dickerson wants to make $2 million a year, a figure reserved for only the highest-paid quarterbacks. Also, the Colts would want at least a very high first-round draft pick or a first-round pick and a conditional pick in exchange for Dickerson.
"I think Eric has five good years left in him," coach Ron Meyer says. "I love the guy. But the perception of him is so poor, and it's a shame. I ache for him."
How is the Falcons-Glanville marriage working?
In the spring, the Atlanta Falcons went through a two-month Operation Head-start minicamp, complete with blocking and tackling, and in early July they had a 10-day minicamp. The Falcons, wearing only shoulder pads for armor, were colliding like it was a Sunday in October. And the players liked it? Well, not exactly. But they are glad they did it. And they are glad the man who made them do it, coach Jerry Glanville, is their new taskmaster.
"It's a perfect marriage for our team," says tackle Mike Kenn, the NFL Players Association president. "We're pretty young, and we're in a tough division. It's been a culture shock, but we're going to have to be a bunch of tough s.o.b.'s to win in our division."
Glanville hasn't changed. Not even the bitter end in Houston—the Oilers lost an AFC wild-card playoff at home to Pittsburgh last season—could do that. Glanville wasn't getting along with the Oilers' conservative general manager, Mike Holovak ("He won't take any chances," Glanville says. "He likes draft choices better than sex"), and Glanville thought he might be fired. So he went looking for a new job, and in an upset, he found one—in Atlanta, where, as defensive coordinator a decade ago, Glanville had created the Gritz Blitz.
The way he's coaching these days is the way he coached for 70 games in Houston and as an assistant for the Oilers and three other teams before that. Glanville is a cross between a court jester and an enlightened despot, walking around the Falcons' practice facility in Suwanee, Ga., wearing a black windbreaker and a wide-brimmed, straw cowboy hat, backslapping and cajoling and hollering in his hoarse semidrawl. He loves the heat. He loves cracking the whip in the heat. If you don't want to bet that the Falcons have a winning season this year—and no one expects it yet, not in the NFC West—bet on them to play strong through the fourth quarter, because they'll be in shape.
"Hey, look," Glanville says, fixing to unload some of his homespun Glanvillisms. "You can't make a great omelet unless you crack a few eggs. You can't go out there on game day and wave a magic wand and say, 'Be aggressive!' You've got to be that way all the time. I promise you we will. But when you win 11 games in three years, there are flat tires to fix. We'll fix 'em. I ain't worried about that."