Bengals Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon took the ball on a long drive with Geoff Hobson of bengals.com and lowered his shoulder on a variety of issues.
HOBSON: You had the first carry ever in Paul Brown Stadium the other night. Did that mean anything to you?
DILLON: You just brought that to my attention. I didn't think about it at the time because I was trying to get the dust off and get into game mode. I guess that's something that will be written in history. It's something else I can add to my treasures.
HOBSON: How far away are you from being ready for Sept. 10? You'll go in with probably only about 15 carries in the preseason.
DILLON: I'll be well ready. I'm not worried about it. I'm just getting used to game situations, taking some hits, polishing it up.
HOBSON: I don't think a lot of people really know you. I think people assume things about you.
DILLON: A lot of people assume.
HOBSON: Do you still think you're riding that (bad guy) label hung on you before the (1997) draft?
DILLON: If you judge somebody by what you hear, I think that's pretty poor. If you know me and know what I'm about, then you sit down and make your assumptions and conclusions, that's fine. But for people who don't know me and say stuff with not really knowing, that's not right.
HOBSON: Do you still run into that?
DILLON: I get that a lot. Around the country my name comes up and someone says, 'Oh, that guy is this. . .' To those who don't know me and go by false information, there's nothing I can do about that.
HOBSON: I know you're married, have a little girl (20-month-old Cameron) and your wife (Desiree) goes to school at the University of Washington and you take care of your daughter a lot during the offseason in Seattle. I know you run that one- day football camp in Seattle for inner-city kids. But you do other things with kids, right?
DILLON: Besides the camp, I'm involved with the kids at church. I'm very active in the church.
HOBSON: The day you got the five-day letter (when the Bengals upset him by putting a deadline on the negotiations but it produced the deal), weren't you headed to a church event?
DILLON: I was on my way to Bible study. Once a week. All the members and a few new faces every week. It's something I like going to. The pastor reviews the information from The Book.
HOBSON: How long have you been into the Bible?
DILLON: I was a Born Again Christian the Memorial Day before this one.
HOBSON: What made you convert?
DILLON: It was time for a change. Time for me to look at The Book and change my life around. After every service, the pastor asks if there's somebody who wants to know God and wants to be saved. It was my time.
HOBSON: What did you change about the way you live?
DILLON: Hey, I used to be out there, partying. There's a lot of things I used to do. Right now, I'm at peace with what I'm doing. I feel more good about myself as a person living the right way and doing the right things and not having all that strife in my life.
HOBSON: By being out there, I guess you mean you were with the guys.
DILLON: Not so much with the guys. I was just doing what I wanted to do and not doing the right things and not making the right judgments and not caring about what was really going on.
HOBSON:: Did your daughter have a lot to do with that?
DILLON: She had a lot to do with it. My daughter is extra incentive just to be right.
HOBSON: What's a typical day for you during the offseason?
DILLON: Wife goes to class. Child goes to day care. I'm working out. Around 3 p.m., everyone seems to come back and meet up at the house, eat dinner and hang out with each other.
HOBSON: Do you go out?
DILLON: What's your definition of going out?
HOBSON: Going out with the guys.
DILLON: No. We stay at home unless it's a family event. Go to the movies or whatever. No clubs.
HOBSON: What movies? A lot of kids' movies?
DILLON: My daughter is in love with Elmo. She's an Elmo fan. That's all that comes out of her mouth. 'Elmo. Elmo. Elmo. Elmo.' So I got her a lot of Elmo DVDs and I've got to watch them with her and she gets a kick out of that.
HOBSON: Corey Dillon watching Elmo. That's quite a thing. Not exactly the image. Are you happy?
DILLON: I couldn't be happier.
HOBSON: You've been terrific since you got here. After the offseason, people were saying, 'He'll do this, he'll do that.'
DILLON: You won't have any problems with me, period. I'm not that type of person. Up until January 2 (when he said he wanted to leave the Bengals), I was the best thing since popcorn until I said a couple of things that I wanted to go in a different direction. That's when all Hell broke loose.
HOBSON: A few weeks after that, back in my former life at The Enquirer, I asked you what would happen if you were still a Bengal after April 10 (when restricted free agency ended) and you said you'd rather flip hamburgers. That got some play.
DILLON: I said it. It was a figure of speech. I'd rather be doing this than that and I used the hamburger term. That went through the roof. The next thing I'm sitting on the Internet and it's 'We've got a hamburger job for you,' and 'Dillon is going to flip burgers.' It got blown out of proportion.
HOBSON: Do you regret saying it?
DILLON: At that point in time, that's how I felt. After thinking about it, it wasn't right. A lot of people say a lot things they don't mean at a certain point and that was one of them. That was one of them.
HOBSON: I know you felt the team said some things you wished hadn't been said.
DILLON: There were some things said. But we chalked it up. I think that's behind us. We're both good people and we put that in the past and have moved on. It boiled down to my desire of playing football. That's one of the things that pushed me to the point of 'Let's get something done and let me get back to doing what I love to do.'
HOBSON: The club made some comparisons with other running backs in the league and how you didn't have as many catches or as many touchdowns because of breakaway speed.
DILLON: I can't help whatever people think about me. I know my capabilities. I know what I can do and that's the only thing I can stick with. My stats speak for themselves.
HOBSON: Can you run away from the safety?
DILLON: I can run from anybody. That's not the problem. The problem is getting to the point of running past the safety and stuff like that. There's been some times I've been in the open field and there's one guy to beat. Things happen. The stats speak for themselves. I didn't come in here saying I was the fastest guy in the world, either. I think I do a good job with what I've got. That's a combination of power and speed. I can break tackles. I've been the third-leading receiver on the team the past two seasons. I think I can catch. I've outcaught the tight end the past two seasons. But people view you different and there's nothing that can be done about that.
HOBSON: Once you figured out the negotiations were business and not personal, that seemed to help.
DILLON: I got past the personal things. This is a business and you have to deal with it like that.
HOBSON: Would you like to make a point to this team by getting top five numbers this year?
DILLON: I don't have to prove anything to anybody. My case is proven. I've been consistent for three years. I'm All Pro. I've just got to keep doing what I do best. If you ask anybody, they will pretty much tell you, 'This kid can play.' That's all that matters. I just want to be consistent.
HOBSON: You've said you'd like to have the number of carries like Eddie George and those guys. (Last year, Dillon had 47 fewer carries than George, 56 fewer than Emmitt Smith, 104 fewer than Curtis Martin, and 106 fewer than Edgerrin James in gaining 1,200 yards. He missed one game because of a knee injury.)
DILLON: I think that's where people take me wrong and think I'm selfish. I want to carry the ball if i think we've got a better chance at winning. I'm all about playing within the team concept. If that means I can carry the ball and that gets the team to the next level, I've got to voice that opinion. . . My numbers are right there with (the other backs). That speaks volumes. I know in my heart and my mind if I was getting (the carries) like some guys, at the end of the day, let's look at my numbers and their numbers and let's evaluate and I'm pretty sure I'll be up there.
HOBSON: You do have some weapons with you.
DILLON: I know I can do positive things with the ball, but we've got a lot of guys here who can do things with the ball. It's great because I can take pressure off Akili (Smith), and he can take pressure off me. Pete (Warrick) can take pressure off me making plays down the field and there won't seven or eight men in the box.
HOBSON: You seem to enjoy the new surroundings. You've talked about the team having a good attitude.
DILLON: It's a great place. The new stadium. There's a new attitude here. The team is working to win. Things are positive and working in the right direction.
HOBSON: How's (equipment manager) Rob Recker treating you?
DILLON: He's putting it right there with all the new stuff. Look at this. Two helmets. I'm living it up. You go into the room and you ask for something and you get it right away. That's good stuff. That's the way you want things around here.
HOBSON: With the team losing the franchise tag (in free agency), it's assumed you're leaving after this year.
DILLON: I'm not even looking toward next year. Things can happen. I'm pretty sure they would have used the franchise on me. I'm just here to play ball. If they want to work it out for next year, let's talk. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm just focused on playing my heart out and trying to help the team get over the hump. If they want to sit down and iron something out for next year, I'm willing to listen.
HOBSON: Next year's a big year. Your wife has a year left of college.
DILLON: Some plans will have to be made. She's a communications major and will be looking for a job somewhere. She'll have a great career in that.
HOBSON: Sorry, but I can't get over you watching Elmo. Are there any other surprises?
DILLON: Elmo, Sesame Street. That's about it. Working out and spending time with my family.
HOBSON: Any hard feeling from the guys you hung with?
DILLON: If there's any grief or gripe about me going on to better my life and live my life according to The Bible, I guess they weren't my friends to begin with. If they don't understand that, tough. I'm trying to better my family's life.
HOBSON: Is there any passage in The Bible you look to?
DILLON: There's a lot of them. The one I like is asking the lord to deliver you from the hands of evil and the unjust. That sticks with me because it's been a hard road for me and he's delivered me from situations, and it's only going to get better. That's the passage I love the most because it explains me and explains my situation.
HOBSON: Where in the Bible is it?
DILLON: It's in Psalms, but I'm not sure which one. I'm going to find that passage for you. Don't write it yet. I'll call you with it.
HOBSON: You've never talked about being Born Again.
DILLON: Nobody really asked me. If you sit down and have a conversation with me, you'll know that. That's the issue. Most people don't want to sit down and talk. So it's hard to get to know somebody.
DILLON: (NEXT DAY ON THE PHONE) I found the verse for you. It's Psalms 43:1 Vinidcate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.
HOBSON: Thanks for looking it up.
DILLON: And, I've got another one. Call it Second Samuel 22. Two and Three. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior - from violent men you save me.