Some people might think that Eric Dickerson has everything, but Michael Carter has several things Dickerson doesn't have.
A wife. A daughter. A college degree. An Olympic silver medal. And, something that Dickerson wants back.
"He owes me seven yards," Dickerson said.
The Rams' tailback and the San Francisco 49ers' nose tackle were roommates at SMU and first met as opponents last season. In the third quarter of the second match at Candlestick Park Dickerson had 101 yards rushing when Carter dropped him for a seven-yard loss. Dickerson netted only four yards on his next three attempts and finished with 98 for the night--and a record 2,105 for the season.
"I don't forget," Dickerson said.
Carter: "I remember the play but I didn't realize he was over a hundred at the time. It was a toss play and he was running wide. I went down the line of scrimmage and caught him in the backfield."
Carter made another big play later in the game when the Rams, trailing 19-13, were threatening on third down. He knocked down a pass by Jeff Kemp, the Rams settled for a field goal and eventually lost, 19-16.
"I just watched the film on that," Carter said by phone Thursday. "What stuck in my mind at the time was that good players in the league come forth at times of need. It's good to make the big plays when there's not much urgency to make them, but when you really need it, it's even better."
So far in 1985, Carter's season has been as unfulfilling as Dickerson's. He was on injured reserve with a torn hamstring the last four games, three of which the 49ers (3-4) lost. But with Manu Tuiasosopo now lame, Carter is scheduled to start at Anaheim Stadium Sunday.
In the first game against the Rams last season, Carter, who is 6-2 and 290 with 4.75 speed for the 40, sacked Kemp twice.
Dickerson: "Michael is very, very, very strong. Strong legs, strong upper body. Doug (Ram center Smith) will have his hands full, I know that."
If it weren't for Carter, all those rings the Rams' offensive linemen wear and the license plate on the front of Dickerson's new Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC coupe--the one with the windshield wipers on the headlights-- would read 2,112. So Dickerson has more than normal respect for Carter, with whom he roomed during his first three years at SMU. It was a case of opposites attracting.
"He was kind of a quiet guy," Dickerson said. "I can't think of anything exciting we did together. Michael was real studious."
While Dickerson palled and partied with their other roommate, Charles Drayton, Carter studied.
"Being a two-sport guy, I didn't have too much time to run around," said Carter, who placed second in the Olympic shotput last year. "I had to get to the books when I had time.
"Eric was very popular, especially with his girls. He was rarely in the room at night. He'd go out to eat dinner, then come home late and I'd get on him about, 'You need to start getting at the books.' He'd talk back to me, but I didn't want anything to happen to him. Things were going well for the team at the time."
Dickerson: "Sometimes he'd sound like my mother if I didn't go to class."
Dickerson has seemed more quiet himself this season, as if he's withdrawn from the media attention he enjoyed his first two seasons.
"I have," he said. "I definitely have."
Is it because he hasn't been accumulating his customary yardage (only 374 after seven games)?
Are his negotiations for an extended contract not going well?
"No, that doesn't bother me."
Well, then, what?
"You know," Dickerson said, "you read a lot in the paper during the holdout and things change. I don't forget, I'll say that. I'll never forget. They'll find me a little bit different now.
"But everything's fine with me. Things went so well my first two years that, you know, eventually things will slow up. If it wasn't for that, you wouldn't appreciate it when things go great."
The lifestyles of Dickerson and Carter have become even more diverse since SMU, which doesn't surprise Carter.
"He spent most of his money on clothing and food," Carter said. "He complained that I ate too much."
The only difference now is that Dickerson spends his money on clothing and cars.
Carter received a degree in sociology, then married his college sweetheart, Sandra Porter. They had their first child two weeks ago.
Carter's adventurous spirit surfaces only on the football field, but he said he had no desire to carry the ball, as Dickerson does and as his counterpart, William (The Refrigerator) Perry, did for the Chicago Bears Monday night.
"What I was thinking," Carter said, "I'd like to line up at linebacker when he (Dickerson) comes through there. That's my game of the year."