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Bear Linebacker Tosses Some Mud : However, Dickerson Doesn’t Get Dirty in a War of Words

Times Staff Writer

Meet the National Football League’s meanest and harshest critic, linebacker Otis Wilson of the Chicago Bears.

What does it take to impress this guy? Apparently, more than what Eric Dickerson has done.

Dickerson is only in the midst of perhaps his greatest season. He leads the NFL in rushing with 1,030 yards. He recently was named the NFC Offensive Player for the month of October.

Dickerson, who had 925 yards through 8 games in 1984, is ahead of the record-setting pace of that year, in which he broke O.J. Simpson’s single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards.

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But Wilson chooses only to remember these numbers.

Date: Jan. 12, 1986. Site: Chicago. Reason: NFC Championship game. Score: Chicago, 24, Rams 0. Dickerson: 46 yards in 17 carries.

With the Rams and Bears meeting again Monday night at Soldier Field, Wilson figured it was the perfect time to bring that game up again.

“Eric does not like to play against us, because we tattoo him,” Wilson said earlier this week. “He doesn’t like to get hurt. We pounded him in the playoffs, held him to 46 yards. Remember? We plan on stopping him again this year.”

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On Thursday, Dickerson responded.

“I’ve never been intimidated in any game I’ve played in,” he said. “I’ve played against the Bears for three years, and they’ve only stopped me once. The only thing I can say is that I’ll be there Monday night. He can take his best shots. I’ll be coming as many times as we have the ball. And I’ll be coming right at him.” Dickerson, in fact, has had good success against the Bears’ defense.

In 1983, his rookie season, Dickerson gained 127 yards in 34 carries and scored 2 touchdowns in a 21-14 win over the Bears.

In 1984, Dickerson was even better, gaining 149 yards in 28 carries with 2 touchdowns in a 29-13 win over Chicago.

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Bear Coach Mike Ditka said Thursday that he was upset by Wilson’s comments about Dickerson. But, in case you haven’t noticed, Chicago players don’t always have their coach’s best interests in mind when giving interviews.

“Otis has made those kind of statements since I’ve been here,” Ditka said. “Some players, I don’t think they mean it as much as it sounds. But sometimes their mouth works when their brain isn’t totally in gear. If I played defense, I sure wouldn’t want to play against him (Dickerson).”

It sounded like the makings of what would be a long week of mudslinging between the teams, but Dickerson wasn’t ready to take it any further.

“Sure it would be special if we win,” Dickerson said. “But right now, it would just be a good win for us. If we beat them in the NFC title game, then it would be a special feeling.”

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Once again, Ram Coach John Robinson said he won’t announce his starting quarterback until later, perhaps Sunday.

Steve Bartkowski, who sat out last Sunday’s game against Atlanta, said his right knee feels much better and that he’s ready to play against the Bears.

But the decision must come from Robinson.

“He’s going to be the judge,” Bartkowski said. “He said he didn’t think I could be impartial.”

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Bartkowski said the week off helped lessen the inflammation in the knee, which has caused him considerable pain and limited his mobility for most of the season.

Robinson said Bartkowski had lost a certain “bounciness” in the pocket and would not play until it returned.

Bartkowski was noticeably better in Thursday’s practice.

“I’m trying to be bouncy,” Bartkowski said. “It feels better today than last Thursday.”

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If Bartkowski can’t play, Steve Dils will make his third start of the season.

Robinson’s decision involves the risk of playing the immobile Bartkowski against a very mobile Bears’ defense, a group that has a history of sending slow-footed quarterbacks to the hospital.

“Bart is on his way back,” Robinson said. “His leg is improving. Both men will be ready to play the game.”

Ram Notes

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The Rams are expected to place nose tackle Charles DeJurnett (bad back) on injured reserve today and activate nose tackle Alvin Wright. . . . Tight end Tony Hunter may miss the Bear game with a shin injury. . . . Henry Ellard will make his first start at wide receiver and also return punts. . . . Does Mike Ditka care who starts at quarterback for the Rams? Does Ditka know the name of the Ram quarterback? Thursday, he referred to Steve Dils as Steve “Dials.” . . . Bear quarterback Jim McMahon did not throw a pass at Thursday’s practice in Chicago, but his chronic sore shoulder isn’t expected to keep him out of Monday’s game. . . . Ditka may activate quarterback Doug Flutie soon. . . . Could he play against the Rams. “I think he could,” Ditka said. “But it wouldn’t be fair to him.


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