Born in a small town of Sealy, Texas, in 1960, Eric Dickerson was raised by his uncle and aunt after his mother decided not to marry his father at the young age of 17. Even though he did not grow up with his father, Dickerson inherited athletic abilities from the former running back of Prairie View College.
Being a skinny kid who wore gasses, Dickerson spent the earlier years of his life being teased and taunted by the other kids in his neighborhood. However, once he started playing football, the world saw an entirely new side of Dickerson. From the time he first set foot on the field, to the time he reached 7th grade, Dickerson was making himself recognized as a running back.
Entering Sealy High School, Dickerson became a part of the track team and won the state 100-yard dash championship with an unbeatable time of 9.4 seconds. Even then, Dickerson showed more inclination towards football and continued to impress his coaches as a running back. Progressing into his senior year, Dickerson led Sealy to the state high school Class AA championship by rushing for 2,642 yards and 37 touchdowns. This earned him the title of a 1978 Parade magazine All-American.
Even though playing for the Oklahoma Sooners was Dickerson’s first preference, he joined the Southern Methodist University upon his mother’s insistence. The football player faced hindrances in his game in his freshman year due to injuries and spent a considerable amount of time off-field.
In his sophomore year, however, he made a comeback by rushing for more than a 100 yards in five different games followed by 19 touchdowns and the title of Southwest Conference Player of the Year in his junior year. Together with Craig James, Dickerson was given the name of ‘The Pony Express’ during his time at SMU.
His senior year proved to be the most successful of the four with a total of 1,617 yards, 17 touchdowns and a Cotton Bowl victory. The same year, Dickerson was chosen as an All-American, voted Southwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year and earned third position in Heisman trophy balloting.
Eric Dickerson finally became a part of the NFL draft in 1983 on behalf of the Los Angeles Rams. However, he struggled at the beginning of his pro career, and his first game was an embarrassing loss against the Dallas Cowboys. The two games which followed were failures similar to the first one. In his fourth game, however, he scored an 85-yard touchdown run against the New York Jets and later rushed for 199 yards against the Detroit Lions. What first set off as a shaky start, resulted in Dickerson finishing the season as NFL’s top rusher with 1,808 yards. To add finishing touches to his outstanding performance, Dickerson set rookie records for the highest number of rushing attempts, 390, along with 18 rushing touchdowns, earning himself the NFL Rookie of the Year honours.
During his second season, Dickerson beat O.J. Simpson’s single-season rushing record with a total of 2,105 yards as compared to the former’s 2,003 yards. Dickerson continued to play for the Rams for two more years before he was signed off to the Indianapolis Colts in 1987. Four seasons later, Dickerson became a part of the Los Angeles Raiders followed by his transfer to the Atlanta Falcons in 1993. The same year, Dickerson retired as a football player without ever playing at the Super Bowl. However, he managed to make it to the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Also known as Mr. Fourth Quarter, Eric Dickerson continued to work off field and became involved in youth programs. In 1984, Dickerson’s Rangers was set up along with a Los Angeles-area youth club which aims at deviating children away from crimes and drugs and exposing them to healthier alternatives.