Eric Dickerson was planning to return to his home in Sealy, Tex., Tuesday, but the Rams, all things considered, would rather he’d be in Philadelphia.
It seemed clear when Monday’s talks deteriorated into Tuesday’s acrimony that Dickerson would not return in time to play against the Eagles Sunday.
Coach John Robinson blamed Dickerson’s advisers.
“I feel very strongly that Eric is not receiving the kind of advice that one would hope for someone he cared about,” Robinson said. He added: “The people that negotiate for him . . . perhaps have no interest other than the financial rewards.
“I do think it is tragic the number of people that are being hurt. We have 45 men on our football team who are working very hard to be successful. The Rams created an environment that was very successful for Eric, and certainly he contributed a great deal to that environment.”
Robinson was particularly upset because of backup Barry Redden’s sprained ankle. “It looks more serious (and) we’re going to rest him until he becomes well,” Robinson said.
That leaves Charlie White as the probable starter, although Robinson wouldn’t commit himself on that.
“Let’s face it, I doubt if the Rams could be in any more need than right now,” Robinson said.
Dickerson’s holdout, apparently so close to being settled last weekend as the Rams opened the season with a 20-16 win over the Denver Broncos, now appears set in concrete.
According to Dickerson’s advisers, he returned from Sealy Sunday expecting to meet privately with Robinson and owner Georgia Frontiere. Robinson had indicated last week that such a meeting would occur.
“The coach was not there,” said Dickerson’s adviser, Jack Rodri. “Eric came all the way back from Texas mainly to have a very simple meeting that included Georgia and the coach, period.”
But the trio had grown to a crowd, minus Robinson, by the time the principals got together Monday afternoon at the Regency Club in Westwood, a site selected by the Rams.
Those present included Dickerson, advisers Rodri, Ken Norton and David Epstein; Frontiere, Ram vice president John Shaw and general counsel Jay Zygmunt. After lunch the others left Dickerson and Frontiere alone for an hour and a half, then returned to talk some more before breaking up at 5:30.
Epstein said that Dickerson told him the private conversation, “was a rehash of what Shaw said at (a Labor Day) press conference.”
Dickerson is seeking a guaranteed contract extension starting in 1987. The Rams have offered to break policy and negotiate an extension, although he has more than one year remaining under contract, but they insist that he report first.
Dickerson’s advisers imply that they don’t trust the Rams, who could get Dickerson back in uniform and then stall.
Robinson said that in the meeting with Dickerson, "(Frontiere) gave her word that the Rams would negotiate in good faith.”
The Rams’ front office also issued a statement Tuesday citing several concessions they had made, including a $2 million disability policy to protect the remaining two years of Dickerson’s contract and an offer to reinstate the $150,000 reporting bonus they contend he forfeited when he failed to report to training camp.
Robinson indicated that the Rams also would waive the $45,000 in fines Dickerson will have accumulated through today.
Dickerson’s advisers did not make him available for comment Tuesday. Rodri said that Dickerson would return to Sealy today or Thursday, after he has completed a photo session for a fashion magazine.
But Robinson, seething, had plenty to say for everyone, especially in response to Rodri’s statement that Dickerson had been disappointed when he learned that Robinson wouldn’t attend Monday’s meeting.
“I don’t believe that at all,” Robinson said. “I believe that’s a complete untruth . . . a continuing way to attempt to manipulate us. They wanted to make John Shaw the original fall guy.
“It’s inconceivable to me that there could be a better environment for their side. They wanted very much to get (Frontiere) directly involved with him. They indicated they did not trust John Shaw’s word when it came to negotiations and, as it was expressed to me (by Rodri), ‘All we needed to do is to get Georgia to talk to him and everything would be fine.’
“Well, their situation did not change one bit . . . that a contract must be completely negotiated before he came in. I think it’s laughable to think that somehow my presence would have changed (it).
“The people that represent him have been manipulative.”
Rodri said: “Eric made up his own mind. Under these circumstances, Eric absolutely cannot see himself playing football without getting what they promised they would give him in the first place.”