SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Eric Dickerson likes Adrian Peterson but loves his NFL rushing record

"I've always felt like that will be the hardest to beat," Dickerson said, "because you only get one shot at it."

Slater said he's convinced Dickerson would have had another 2,000-yard season with the Rams had the star back not been traded to Indianapolis in 1987. He added that the 2,105 means a lot to Dickerson's blockers too.

"I know Eric would be the first one to tell you that he couldn't have done it without us, and we appreciate that," Slater said. "There's no doubt about it, there was a lot of collaborative effort on the part of the offensive line, the tight ends, the receivers, everybody. But let's just face it, Eric was the one running with the football, the one making the plays. Eric was a very special guy.

"I was used to that, because I blocked for Walter Payton in college [at Jackson State], so I knew a special back when I was around one."

Dickerson and Payton, the Chicago Bears icon, were forever linked in that record-setting 1984 season. Two months before Dickerson set the single-season record, Payton passed Jim Brown to become the NFL's all-time rushing leader.

For his feat, Payton received a midnight-blue Lamborghini Countach from his shoe sponsor, Kangaroo. So when Dickerson ran for 2,105, he was anticipating a similar gesture from his sponsor, Adidas.

"The players were saying, 'I know they're going to give you something nice. I know you're getting a car,'" he said.

Not so fast.

"You know what they gave me? Take a wild guess. How about a carrot cake with candles? That was embarrassing. The linemen, they were all standing around and were like, 'A cake? A cake? Man, there's no keys in that cake?' I'm like, 'Man, I'm allergic to nuts. I can't eat this cake.'

"We just kind of walked off. I couldn't even eat it. I was like, 'Wow.'"

Twenty-nine years later, Dickerson can chuckle about the snub. He has the record, more meaningful to him than any set of wheels. He said he plans to send Peterson a text message this week, before the Vikings open the season Sunday at Detroit.

"I just want to wish him good luck, tell him I hope he has a great season. At the end I'm going to say, 'But don't break my record.' I hope he has 2,104 yards."

One yard short? That would take the cake.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

Twitter: LATimesfarmer

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