Eric Dickerson signed a four-year contract extension Saturday with the Indianapolis Colts that pays the sidelined rusher a reported $2.5 million per season through 1994.
"The situation has been resolved, thank God," said Dickerson, who quarreled with team managment, coach Ron Meyer and teammates through the media for much of the past year. "A lot of people say I'm not a team player but I am. I go out there and play hard every Sunday."Dickerson and his agent, Arn Tellum, met with Colts owner Robert Irsay and general manager Jim Irsay for more than five hours Saturday at team headquarters to work out the contract.
The contract has language that protects the Colts from legal action by Dickerson, which means the running back will not receive about $600, 000 that was kept from him during a six-week suspension.
"We've had several discussions over the last few days and we gave the contract the kind of language in which we would have protection," said Jim Irsay, who added he hopes Dickerson will finish his career with the Colts. "We made the decision to extend the contract for the betterment of the team."
The Colts suspended Dickerson for the first six weeks of the NFL season after he failed a team physical and refused to take other examinations.
The initial exam showed Dickerson's left hamstring, which he injured during the offseason while training in California, was weak. The running back went to Houston to strengthen the tendon but refused to take further exams.
Indianapolis management responded by putting him on the non-football injury list, which kept out of uniform for at least six weeks. Dickerson took the case to league commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who upheld the Colts' decision, costing Dickerson $600,000 of his $1.45 million salary for this season.
Meyer said the agreement will provide the team with a lot of flexibility, Meyer said.
"Most people are always asking what we will do now with (Albert) Bentley and Dickerson both in the backfield. That is a luxury, most frankly, I like to have. We are going to a lot of two-back formations," he said.
Dickerson said he is eager to return to the field. He must pass a physical Monday before practicing but neither he nor team officials anticipate a problem.
"I'm the type the person that says whatever has happened has happened and I try not to worry about it too much because I have no control over it," he said.
Dickerson also said he would resume talking to the local media. He had refused to talk to the local media last season when, after a loss, he blasted his offensive line and Meyer told him publicly not to be so harsh.
Dickerson reached the 10,000-yard rushing plateau in 91 games, faster than any player in league history and holds the single-season record of 2,105 in 1984. He finished last season with 1,311 rushing yards for the season and 11,226 yards for his career.
Late in the 1989 campaign and in the offseason, Dickerson tossed numerous verbal shots at team management and its offensive line. He said playing behind the Indianapolis line was like playing Russian Roulette and once said he could do a better job than GM Jim Irsay of managing the team.