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Dickerson, ESPN Broke News on Deal That Sent Him to Colts

November 01, 1987|LARRY STEWART | Times Staff Writer

The news of Eric Dickerson being traded by the Rams to the Indianapolis Colts broke on ESPN's "SportsCenter" show Friday at 8:30 p.m., PST, with Dickerson himself making the announcement from a studio in Hollywood.

ESPN got the story through a little luck, some hustling by sportscaster Jim Gray and cooperation from Dickerson.

Gray, ESPN's West Coast correspondent, called Dickerson Friday morning to ask him to appear on today's "GameDay" show. Dickerson said he didn't know if he could, but during their conversation, he invited the 27-year-old sportscaster to accompany him to a Halloween party that night at a hotel near the Los Angeles Airport.

About 6:15 that evening, Gray, working out at a gym in Santa Monica, called Dickerson at his home in Malibu to confirm their plans for the evening.

According to Gray, Dickerson told him that he had just received a call from Indianapolis Coach Ron Meyer, who was Dickerson's coach at SMU.

"You'd better get over here," Gray quoted Dickerson as saying. "I've been traded to Indianapolis."

Gray, still in his gym clothes, drove to Dickerson's house, arriving about 7:15. Gray talked Dickerson into going on the air, so, riding together in Dickerson's car, they went to the Wold Communications studios at Sunset and Vine.

Gray used Dickerson's car phone to call ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Conn., and set up the interview. Desk personnel at ESPN, meanwhile, began working on the story, but got only denials from team officials.

Gray said he and Dickerson arrived at Sunset and Vine at about 8:29, double-parked and raced to the elevator for a 16-story ride.

"The longest elevator ride I've ever taken," Gray said Saturday.

Gray, who shaved in the car, borrowed a shirt and tie from Dickerson to wear on the air.

"Friends have asked me why my shirt was so loose-fitting," Gray said.

"We got into the studio with about 20 seconds to spare."

Afterward, they returned to Dickerson's double-parked car. It had not been ticketed, but as Dickerson drove away, he made a U turn. That got him a ticket.

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