Former Collegiate Athlete Meets Gold Jacket Eric Dickerson

Former Collegiate Athlete Meets Gold Jacket Eric Dickerson

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The Hall of Fame was at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl recently as part of its sponsorship with Goodyear with Gold Jackets Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson.

As Dickerson was leaving the building, he was approached by USC Executive Assistant to the Head Coach Clay Helton and Assistant Director of Football Operations Cheryl Taplin. Turns out Cheryl had been wanting to meet Dickerson for years since he was her inspiration for her track career at LSU. She also competed at the Goodwill Games and the World Cup, where she won Gold Medals in the 400m relay. We caught up with Cheryl’s unique story how her passion for football helped her in track.

“I was a huge NFL fan because of my Dad. We used to watch football all of the time. After football season, when I was a senior in high school, I watched NFL athletes in track competitions. Eric Dickerson’s three point stance from the starting blocks caught my attention. I couldn’t believe his explosion and reaction time from that stance. I immediately began to imitate it in my track meets and it definitely helped me win a scholarship to LSU where I competed in the 100M, 200M and 4x200M relay. I had a chance to try out for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, but I was the last cut for the 100M dash. It did lead me to a job at the University of Washington as the executive assistant to Head Coach Ty Willingham and then later Steve Sarkasian. I followed him to USC where I have been the last 7 years."

"When I went to the Cotton Bowl this year when USC played Ohio State, I heard that Eric Dickerson would be at the game, but I had no idea how I could meet him. I was underneath the tunnel to organize the buses for the game departure and looked to my right and there he was, driving by in a golf cart at the end of the third quarter. I was so excited and went up to him ‘Eric, sorry to bother you but would you mind if I could tell you my story of watching you to become a better track performer?’ I couldn’t believe how nice he was as he listened and we both ended up enjoying the “accidental tourist” moment that I had been hoping for my whole life. I also met George Veras from the Hall who invited me to come for a visit and I plan to take him up on it!”


The meeting resulted in this photo. We look forward to seeing Cheryl at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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