Widely regarded as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, Eric Dickerson recently announced a partnership with the burgeoning sports bar Rocco’s Tavern to create a special menu reminiscent of the NFL Hall Of Famer’s illustrious past. Earlier this season, the concept dubbed “29 at Rocco’s Tavern” -- a reminder of the number Dickerson wore throughout his NFL career -- debuted at Rocco’s locations in Studio City, Westwood, Culver City, Old Town Pasadena, as well as at the Rocco’s owned 901 Bar & Grill.
For those unfamiliar with why Eric Dickerson was such a legend on the football field, it starts back in 1979, when he was the #1 ranked high school football player in the United States. He committed to Southern Methodist University and helped turn his college team -- nicknamed "the Pony Express" -- into a national powerhouse.
Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams with the second pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, Dickerson went on in his rookie season to set a new rushing record with 1,808 yards, a record that still stands today. And if that weren’t enough, the following year Dickerson broke the most famous NFL record by rushing for 2,105 yards in one season; 33 years later, this record still stands too.
As per what's on that “29 at Rocco’s Tavern” menu, the Sealy, Texas native insisted on including the Sealy Texas Snapper (a fried red snapper dish with fries and Texas slaw), the Sealy Texas Shrimp (a fried shrimp with fries and Texas Slaw), the 29 Burger (with swiss cheese, spicy mustard, red onions and tomato), and the Pony Express Pizza (with cheese, pepperoni, sausage and jalapenos). Furthermore, Rocco’s has created a dish of spicy wings simply called 2105 for the rushing record that may never be broken.
Rocco's collaboration aside, Eric Dickerson currently works in the Los Angeles Rams front office as Vice President of Business Development, along with being an NFL analyst for FS1/FOX national TV. I had the pleasure of speaking with Dickerson by phone, and highlights from that chat are given below.
More on Eric Dickerson can be found by following him on social media via @EricDickerson.
How long was this special menu in the works for?
Eric Dickerson: We talked about it for a couple of months. What things I liked, being from Texas I tried to bring some Texas flare to it. The shrimp, red snapper -- not the pizza, although the pizza's great. Just some different items.
Do you remember which item you developed first on the menu?
Eric Dickerson: The shrimp, the shrimp is my favorite. My favorite food. (laughs)
Has your diet changed over the years, as you changed from being an active player to working in the back office and on-camera?
Eric Dickerson: You know what, even when I was a young player -- I hate to say this -- I'd eat once or twice a day, and I still do that. I don't eat the healthiest, I wish I did, I wish I could say I was a healthy eater. I love sweets, I love candies and all that kind of stuff. It's a sickness, I guess. (laughs) My kids, I can't be mad, they love sweets and all that. Their mom eats better than I eat. But I never did have a great diet. I just don't eat a lot, that's the thing.
So it's not anything to do with intermittent fasting?
Eric Dickerson: Absolutely not. I've fasted before, I've fasted for three days and didn't eat anything, just water. I was going to do that in the next couple of weeks. I like to fast sometimes, but no.
Is this the first time you collaborated with a restaurant, or even put together a menu?
Eric Dickerson: First time I've ever done it, most definitely. I think Rocco's is a perfect partner.
Is this a permanent menu, or limited for during the NFL season?
Eric Dickerson: I think it's going to be permanent and we'll add stuff to it. Right now it's a permanent menu.
Are you hoping that this is going to lead to other food-related collaborations? Or is your entire focus on Rocco's?
Eric Dickerson: Right now just on Rocco's. That's where we started at. I like the sports bars they have and the family atmosphere, so we're just going to stick with Rocco's.
Something that's interesting to me is that your career is very math-centric. People know you by your jersey number and they know your rushing yards record, for example. Are you a math guy?
Eric Dickerson: No, not at all. (laughs) I hate to say it, but math is my weakest subject. My daughter, she hates it, my son likes it.
The number 29, did you always love that? Or is it just a coincidence?
Eric Dickerson: Let me explain how I got the number 29. When I was in college, I was number 19. I always liked the number nine, single-digit nine. 29 because the number is my birthday, nine-two, turned around it's 29. So when I was in college, I got drafted and I came to L.A. You have to pick your number when you're going to play, and I wanted to wear number 19. They said, "You can't wear number 19 as running backs, that's a quarterback or receiver number." I'm like, "So what numbers do you have?" They have 25, 29, 32 and 34. I didn't want to be Walter Payton or Earl Campbell, I didn't want to be O.J. [Simpson] or Jim Brown, I said, "You know what? I'll take 25." That's the number I chose.
I took the number and I moved back to Dallas after the draft that night. It wasn't like it is now where it's a whole ensemble thing; you come to the city for the night and then come back home. That night, my best friend picked me up. He said, "What number did you pick?" I said number 25.
His reply was, "Why did you pick that slow-ass number? That's a slow number as far as you are." I didn't like that number anyway, I said, "Man, you right." He said, "Why didn't you pick 19?" I said I couldn't take 19 and told him why. He asked what numbers they had. He said, "No, you don't want to be Earl or Walter or Jim Brown or O.J... Why don't you take 29?" I'm like, "Man, that's a good idea."
The next day I called back the Rams and talked to Mr. [Donald] Hewitt, who was the equipment guy. I said, "Mr. Hewitt, I want to change my number." He said, "Eric, you were in the L.A. Times holding up number 25. You can't change the number." I said, "I'm not going to come then." So he said, "We'll change the number." That's how I became number 29.
Also on numbers' front, when you're having a record-breaking season, are you actually thinking about the numbers? Like trying to break the record?
Eric Dickerson: Oh, of course you do. When you get close to a record you start thinking about it because everyone starts talking about it. It just becomes part of your life, as a player. In football or any sport you're dealing with numbers, how many yards, most definitely. I think the offensive linemen were thinking about it as much as I was... They'd ask the stat guy, "How many yards was Eric rushing?" "70 yards? We need more yards." Most definitely it's something you think about.
Another great part of your career, to me at least, was that you were in the music video for "Ram It." Was that an enjoyable experience?
Eric Dickerson: Oh god, absolutely not. (laughs) Let me tell you, I did not want to do that. I kept telling them, "This is going to come back to haunt us." To me, we were taking a spin-off of what the [Chicago] Bears did. I'm like, "Man, this is not a good look." (laughs) Sure enough, it comes back to haunt me -- all of us.
Looking at what you've got going on, you're still working with the Rams, you're a broadcaster on FS1, you've got this collaboration with Rocco's, are you working on any other projects at the moment?
Eric Dickerson: I have a radio show I do every Monday for iHeartRadio. I do it with Rodney Peete and Fred Roggin. Right now we're talking football and basketball, some baseball, the Dodgers going to the World Series. During the football season, it's mostly football.
So it sounds like Los Angeles sports will follow you around for the rest of your life...
Eric Dickerson: Yeah, you got it. I'm from Texas, but I've been in L.A. for 30-something years and it's just a part of me. I love Los Angeles, even though I love my home state of Texas and I'll always be a Texan. But I love living in L.A., I think that L.A. is one of the greatest cities in the world, one of the most beautiful cities when it's clear. It's 91 degrees out there, I'm so sick of seeing the sun every day, I like it a little overcast. (laughs) It is a beautiful place to live.
Finally, Eric, any last words for the kids?
Eric Dickerson: I tell all young kids this. My dad had two sayings I live by. One was, "Son it takes a second to get in trouble and a lifetime to get out of it." Be smart about the decisions you make. They could affect your life forever, the things you do.
My dad also said, "All that you do, son, do as you might, things you do by halves are never done right." Give it 100 percent whatever it is, I'm that guy. I tell my kids that... I tell any young person, "Just give it 100 percent" -- you can't ask any more than that.Published 22 Oct 2018, 09:58 IST