Eric Dickerson needs just 11 yards to pass O.J. Simpson and become the NFL's sixth all-time leading rusher. But the Indianapolis Colts aren't sure when or if he will achieve that goal.
The team's decision to place Dickerson on the reserve-non football injury list was upheld Thursday by NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, leaving the Colts to decide when they want to activate No. 29."He will be back at some point playing for this franchise, and when that point is will be determined by us," general manager Jim Irsay said.
Irsay was to meet today with his father Robert, who owns the team, and coach Ron Meyer to discuss Dickerson's status. He said they hope to decide within a week.
Dickerson is the only back in NFL history to run for 1,000 yards or more in each of his seven seasons, but his inactivity so far this season will delay his climb in the record books. He had 11,226 yards through last season.
If he had played a complete schedule this season, he likely would have passed No. 6 Simpson (11,236 yards), No. 5 John Riggins (11,352 yards) and No. 4 Franco Harris (12,120 yards). He needs 1,087 yards to overtake Jim Brown (12,312 yards) as the league's No. 3 all-time rusher.
Dickerson's absence is reflected in the team's running game, which averages 229 net yards per game, compared with the opposition's 441 yards, and a 1-3 record.
Those statistics leave no doubt that Irsay wants Dickerson back on the field, possibly as early as the Oct. 21 game against Denver.
"If Eric Dickerson is here - full body and full mind - he's a force. He can help you win games," Irsay said.
Dickerson, who last season said he didn't want to play for the Colts this year, reported to training camp 11 days late and failed a physical because of a hamstring injury suffered in offseason workouts. He declined to take a physical requested by the team and was placed on the reserve-non football injury list on Aug. 29.
He also was suspended for four weeks for conduct detrimental to the team. Both decisions cost him more than $600,000 from the $1.45 million salary he was to receive this season.
Dickerson, who had asked that the Colts trade him, cannot be activated until Oct. 17 - one day after the league's trading deadline.
Before playing, Dickerson would have to pass a team physical. If he fails, he would remain on the reserve-non football injury list indefinitely, Irsay said.