Before Eric Dickerson arrived in Indianapolis, Colts fans may have been wondering what they had signed up for. In the previous three season in their new home, the Colts had managed just 12 wins. The honeymoon period was wearing off and fans were staying away from the RCA Dome in droves.
Then Bob Irsay hired former SMU head coach Ron Meyer. One of the first things Meyer did was help orchestrate what is still to this day one of the blockbuster trades in NFL history. Meyer was able to get Eric Dickerson, the leader of the famous “Pony Express” backfield with Meyer at SMU, in a trade that involved Dickerson’s former team, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Buffalo Bills.
All Dickerson had done in Los Angeles was lead the team in rushing three of his four seasons. His arrival on a moribund Colts’ team gave them instant credibility as a contender. And contend they did.
Coming to the Colts during the strike-interrupted 1987 season, Dickerson gained 1011 yards in just nine games. His performance was enough to take the Colts to their first ever playoff berth. Dickerson, limited to just 50 yards rushing by an icy Cleveland Stadium turf and a Browns defense content to make Jack Trudeau beat them, wasn’t enough to propel the Colts past the Browns.
Dickerson would rush for 1000 yards the next two seasons, but without a consistent threat from the passing game, the Colts missed out on the playoffs each year, finishing second in the AFC East to the potent Buffalo Bills each time. Ironically, it was the Bills who probably benefitted most from the three-way trade involving Dickerson, as they received Cornelius Bennett to anchor their defense along with Bruce Smith. The Bills went to four Super Bowls with Bennett, while the Rams made two playoff appearances and the Colts just one.
Injuries and a big contract forced Dickerson to the Atlanta Falcons after five years with the Colts. Dickerson ran for 5194 of his career 13,259 yards while in Indianapolis. Dickerson is the seventh all-time leading rusher in NFL history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
- 30 at 30: Number 23, Head Coach Ron Meyer
- 30 at 30: Number 20, Head Coach Ted Marchibroda
- 30 at 30: Number 22, Linebacker Jeff Herrod
- 30 at 30: Number 13, Running Back Edgerrin James
- 30 at 30: Number 15, Wide Receiver Bill Brooks
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