Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk were chosen this week for induction into the Colts Ring of Honor in December.
The additions of Dickerson and Faulk are noteworthy and appropriate because of the greatness they brought to Indianapolis.
Dickerson came to the Colts on a Halloween Night trade involving the L.A. Rams and Buffalo with Buffalo getting Cornelius Bennett and the Rams getting six draft picks and two running backs.
He got to Indianapolis just in time that Saturday morning to get a physical and hop the team flight to New York, where we played the Jets on Sunday.
The press conference at the team hotel had about 200 reporters, and the visibility and marketing dynamic for the team was changed dramatically with Eric being on board. In fact, he was Sports Illustrated’s cover six days later.
Coming out of a player strike, we took flight with Eric’s addition, making the playoffs and nearly engineering an upset playoff win.
The next season (1988) brought our first Monday Night Game, appropriately on Halloween Night. To many long-time Colts fans that game remains one of the most memorable ever.
Eric was much more treat than trick with 159 rushing yards and four TDs in 19 minutes. He could have run all night.
Eric went on to the rushing title that year and had a solid 1989 season before things started slowing down.
Still, he was the first truly big-time NFL superstar to arrive in Indianapolis.
Marshall came in a much more natural way – through the draft, and he had a much different style than Eric.
Where Eric was a pure upright runner, Marshall was a darter and dancer who had power and a quick gear. Both he and Eric got to full speed tremendously well, and Marshall was able to have four 1,000-yard seasons with the club.
While Eric was a very good receiver, Marshall was outstanding, nearly producing a 1,000-yard season rushing and receiving in 1998.
Marshall later went on to star in St. Louis as the Colts took a different direction.
The direction now is to put both players in the Ring of Honor in December. Jim Irsay has made so many right decisions, and this is just another one.
The symmetry of Marshall (number 28) and Eric (number 29) is perfect. Both did a great deal to forward the franchise, and both helped the team win.
Colts fans are smart and have large hearts. I personally cannot wait for the applause these two players will hear on December 15.
In full disclosure, I was the PR Director here for both of them. They were fun to handle. Marshall was a bit of a challenge. He had me more on the defensive than I liked, but we laugh about that now.
We both share the same hometown – New Orleans – and both were public school products, though my school and his were in different parts of the town in more ways than one. I personally think he should have been the rightful winner of the Heisman Trophy that went to Gino Toretta. (They were paired here in Indianapolis for a short time.)
(I also think Peyton Manning should have won, too, but that is the New Orleans in me speaking out. Two natives of that city should have won that trophy within four years of each other. Just my opinion.)
Eric was fun to work with. There were times he would not do everything asked of him, but he was consistent and fair. I understood why he did not do some things, but he surprised me quite well with others.
My first meeting with him and one of my later ones stick out the most.
In preparing for that press conference in New York, he, Ron Meyer and I met in Ron’s hotel room to strategize for the questioning.
When we were done, we still had about 15 minutes. Ron grabbed the pillow off his bed, handed it to Eric and told him I was his fullback as we ran through some plays. I can honestly say I was his first fullback with the Colts.
After the 1999 season, Eric was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was sitting with him alone in a holding room in a Miami hotel when Dave Motts of the hall burst in to convey the news that Eric had made it. Eric smiled as only he could do.
Congrats to both Eric and Marshall. They are worthy recipients for the Colts’ Ring of Honor. They like going in together because of their friendship – and Colts fans are the winners.
Tags: Eric Dickerson, indianapolis colts, Jim Irsay, Marshall Faulk, Pro Football Hall of Fame
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The NFL Draft plays out annually with pomp and circumstance that seemingly grows each spring.
The annual Supplemental Draft, not so much.
The Supplemental Draft was held yesterday and none of the six eligible players – former UNLV defensive linemen James Boyd and Nate Holloway, Central Florida defensive end Toby Jackson, Houston wide receiver DeWayne Peace, Purdue wide receiver O.J. Ross and South Alabama cornerback Damond Smith – were taken.
Each is a free agent now and clubs may partake per their tastes or needs.
It is an avenue the Colts used once tremendously, and one the team narrowly avoided on another occasion that could have been a setback.
In 1984, Indianapolis used three supplemental picks at the close of the USFL. The Colts selected tight end Paul Bergman (UCLA), running back Albert Bentley (Miami) and defensive tackle Byron Smith (California).
Smith played a handful of games in 1984 and 1985, while Bentley went on to a very solid Colts career.
The Miami Hurricane blew into Indianapolis and started 33-of-88 career games through 1991, rushing for 2,355 yards and 19 touchdowns. Bentley was an accomplished receiver who had 226 receptions for 2,245 yards and eight touchdowns.
As a returnman, he held a 21.5 average on 148 career kickoff returns.
Bentley was one of most versatile Colts ever. He shared backfield duties with Randy McMillan and Eric Dickerson and never was full-time starter. Bentley’s career ended abruptly with a knee injury.
“Albert was one of those multi-purpose guys,” said Bill Brooks. “If you put Albert in the backfield, he could run the ball hard. If you say, ‘We’re third-and-one and you need that tough yard,’ Albert would stick his nose right in there and try to run over people. (You might say), ‘Albert we need some yards.’ He could run by people and get on the outside. (You might say), ‘Albert we need to get you out of the backfield and for you to catch the ball.’ Albert would catch the ball.
“If we needed him at wide receiver or kickoff returns, he’d do it. He was one of those guys that whatever the coaches asked him to do he would do that.
“He was a great teammate and did what he could for the team. Albert was a tremendous talent, a great teammate, worked hard, played through some tough injuries, but just wanted to contribute to the team, and he did a great job contributing.”
The USFL Supplemental Draft was not tied to the regular draft like yesterday’s selection process. The regular Supplemental Draft, done via email, carries a price. To use a selection in the Supplemental Draft, a team is forfeiting its rights to that pick in the next year’s main NFL Draft.
Indianapolis nearly had a tough decision in the 1987 Supplemental Draft when Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth was the prize.
As the selection order fell into place, Indianapolis held the second overall slot, just behind Seattle.
The Seahawks grabbed the celebrated linebacker, and Bosworth eventually started 24 career games over three seasons before calling his career quits after four career sacks.
On deck as Seattle mulled the choice, the Colts watched. When the Seahawks pounced, the Colts were spared a decision that would have cost the franchise its first-round pick in 1988.
As history played out, the Colts used that 1988 choice in a package to obtain Dickerson from the Los Angeles Rams, a future Hall-of-Famer who affected Bentley’s playing time.
Tags: Albert Bentley, Brian Bosworth, Eric Dickerson, indianapolis colts
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