San Diego Union-Tribune
Friday, July 29, 1988
Written by Sam Marchiano
Quote: "Once-zany Dryer has serious side
The books on his coffee table are as eclectic as the man. "The Choking Doberman," concerning
the origins of American folklore, "The Serpent and the Rainbow," on Haitian voodoo, and
"Paintings at the Louvre" are among only a few of Fred Dryer's recent reading interests.
Dryer —— former star defensive end at San Diego State, 14-year NFL veteran of the New York
Giants and Los Angeles Rams and now television's tough cop on NEC's "Hunter" —— was once
as notorious for his off-the-field antics as his speed and tenacity on the field. Now, at 42, he's more comfortable with a less flamboyant, although equally interesting, lifestyle.
"I had a great deal of fun being that way," Dryer said of such legendary stories as showing up at a New York news conference in a jacket and tie with no shirt on. "I figured that if I'm the one who's going to be looked at and dissected by everybody, I should have a little control over how that's done. It was all for my amusement. It was certainly harmless."
Still, the tales stay with him. When Dryer began his career with the Giants in 1969, he lived in his white VW bus. He tried to convince the New York media that living in a van was commonplace in Southern California, but Easterners thought he was on the edge, and the image stuck.
[Dryer:] "[In France, this guy started to] talk to me about living in my car. Dead serious. "Are you still living in your car Monsieur Freddy?'" Dryer mimicked in a thick French accent. "Yeah, right in the trunk. It's just amazing."
After being waived by the Rams in August 1981, Dryer filed a $5 million lawsuit against the club the following November, claiming that he had a no-cut, no-trade pact, plus verbal agreements for two more seasons, and that the Rams' actions caused him personal distress.
Earlier this year the California Supreme Court reversed the decisions of two lower state courts that ruled in favor of Dryer's contention that the lawsuit should be decided by a jury trial. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of arbitration. Both sides testified at a hearing, and Dryer awaits arbitrator Sam Kagle's decision.
Although he's still in a legal battle with one of its clubs, Dryer will be working with the NFL this weekend at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Before induction ceremonies tomorrow morning, Dryer will serve as grand marshal of the annual parade.
"I think the Hall of Fame is something that should be seen. I've never been there and seen the
display. It's part of my business, a part of what I did," Dryer said. "Going back kind of completes it. I'd also like to see some people, wish them luck."
Dryer still drives the same VW, along with a 1982 Harley-Davidson motorcycle (no, he doesn't
wear a helmet), but now he lives in a conventional Los Angeles apartment complex. The beard he
frequently wore is gone, replaced by a clean shave more fitting of the character he portrays, and the graying temples of his closely cropped hair are an indication that it has been awhile since he's stepped on the football field. Pictures of his 4-year-old daughter Caitlin can be found throughout his living room, and he is quick to answer that she is the most important part of his life.
Dryer still exhibits a frank view of the world that led to his off-beat remarks and outlandish
behavior of the past. [Dryer:] "[... The words here are missing and I can't even GUESS, what
they were supposed to be. - my add. - Anonymous] here to stay and if not, where do you think it's going?"
Their brief stint as reporters was highly publicized, and sometimes chastised. Yet Dryer denies they were mocking journalism, but rather making a statement in a humorous way.
"What we did in 1974 set the precedent for how the Super Bowl is looked at today. People don't
understand or realize that. The same questions are being asked. The same notes are being hit. We came in there and allowed everybody to see themselves. They thought we were making fun of
them and we were, but it wasn't malicious," Dryer said. "I was a player who came off the field to say, Hey look, there's going to be another game next year guys. Let's put this all in perspective and take a look at what's going on here.'"
Dryer experienced the Super Bowl from the player's standpoint in 1980, when the Rams lost to
the Steelers in Pasadena. An integral part of a defense that included Jack Youngblood and Jack
Reynolds and dominated the NFC West in the late '70s, Dryer reached the sport's ultimate game
one season, only to have his career come to a halt after the next.
Dryer's journey began more than 20 years ago, with the Aztecs, and it is for his alma mater that he has the kindest words.
"There was very little to worry about then. My biggest worry was if my motorcycle would start," Dryer said. "There was a village-like atmosphere on campus and it was a great place to go to school."
"For football, it was a unique experience. It was a hotbed. Don Coryell had a talent for getting good football players and making them better."
Dryer has had more free time than usual because of the writers' strike. Off since March, he has been spending his time with his daughter and traveling.
When he is shooting "Hunter," Dryer says he's guaranteed a 12-hour day at least.
And when he discusses his work, he becomes the most intense, like a football player mentally
preparing himself for a game.
"I know what I want to do. I want to produce, act, create projects," Dryer said. "I want to work with the best people in the business — the best actors, the best director. I want to work with people who have vision. I want to be a part of the whole process."