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Conversation: Record-breaking CD

Bengals running back Corey Dillon slowed his run into the record books Friday long enough to let Geoff Hobson of catch up on his whirlwind season.

HOBSON: ESPN is going to be here this Sunday. CNN/SI is going to be here. They're coming to see you.

DILLON: It's a big event not only for me, but for our team as well. When I get exposure, the team gets exposure. It's just not a me issue. It's something for everybody. We've got to do things the way we've been doing them, but it's going to be a tough job against Baltimore. It's one of the toughest tasks we have.

HOBSON: You said last year when you were named to the Pro Bowl that other top players here were deserving, like Willie Anderson and Takeo Spikes, but had a hard time getting noticed.

DILLON: Nobody knows about Willie Anderson and Takeo and Akili (Smith), the Tom Carters, the Peters (Warrick), the Adrian Rosses, Armegis (Spearman). We're in that bracket where we're just not that good of a marketing team because we're not in the win column as much as everybody else. Whenever we get a chance like this, I don't want it for myself. I want our team to be recognized. There are some good players. We are a good football team. That's the thing I want to get put out there.

HOBSON: (Bengals President) Mike Brown has said he doesn't want to distract you, so he'll wait until the end of the season to sign you. Are you surprised he hasn't tried to get anything done sooner before you become a free agent March 2?

DILLON: I honor the way he's going about the negotiating situation right now. He doesn't want to do anything that would be upsetting. You have to respect that. He doesn't want to mess something up. That's a good thing.

We just came off a tough negotiating thing. It didn't go well for either one of us. I think we're both at the point where we want the negotiating session to be smooth.

HOBSON: Mike says he wants to get a deal done so he won't have to put the transition tag on you (allowing the Bengals to match an offer from any team).

DILLON; I'm a great listener.

HOBSON: I guess it was a nice moment when Mike congratulated you on breaking the single-game record. He said he told you, "'I'm looking for The Man.'"

DILLON: I told (running backs coach Jim Anderson) that it's not every day the owner goes in your meeting and pats you on the back. It was something special.

HOBSON: Was it a team meeting?

DILLON: No, we were in a running backs meeting with JA. He spoke in front of the group.
He commended me on doing a great job. He was just saying he had never seen anything like that in his life. That it was an all-out great performance and he's been in the league a long time.

HOBSON: Do you think you know now how he feels about you as a player?

DILLON (smiling): He loves me. He loves me.

HOBSON: I think there was a question in your mind during negotiations (this past summer when Dillon's three-week holdout ended in a one-year, $3 million deal). It did get ugly.

DILLON: There were questions I had about a lot of stuff. I've just come to understand a lot of it. I evaluate stuff in a different manner. I've come to understand some things are business and I can't get emotionally caught up in stuff. It makes you say the wrong thing. I wasn't looking at it from a business aspect. There were certain things I got upset about emotionally. But when I finally sat down and asked myself, 'Why, why, why?' it began to dawn on me."

HOBSON: The way Dick LeBeau has used you since he became head coach, which is often, isn't that how you thought it would always be?

DILLON: That's how I want to be used. Basically, I thought that's what the plans would be. That's the way I've been used for a long time. It feels good to actually get back to doing (what he did in junior college and college). Toting the rock for such and such.

HOBSON: You like the guys here. I would think you like the facility. You like Jim Anderson. If the money was right, would you come back?

DILLON: I wouldn't mind. It's a point of being treated fair and being realistic.

HOBSON: Is that Eddie George territory (with $12-14 million up front?) What's fair market value now?

DILLON: Stats speak for themselves. I'm not going to shoot out any numbers. I don't want to be over and I don't want to go under.

HOBSON: That's probably what Mike is thinking, too.

DILLON: I don't want to flip that card right now. Fair market value could be anything. I think I'm with the top backs. I've got pretty good numbers. I'm not the best, but I've got numbers.

HOBSON: Top five numbers?

DILLON: I don't want to be the highest paid. I just want to be treated fairly.

HOBSON: Willie said after last week's game he thought you've lost the effects of the holdout the past few games and have been in better sync reading and hitting the holes.

DILLON: I wouldn't even say that. I haven't been doing anything differently. As the season's been going, it's just that things are coming more naturally.

HOBSON: But the last two weeks have been so huge compared to the other games.

DILLON: Nothing has changed. My work ethic is the same. I'm doing the same stuff. Things are starting to open up.

HOBSON: Right after you signed in August, we talked about how being a Born Again Christian for the past year and a half has changed your life for the better. So much has happened to you personally and professionally since then. Is your faith stronger?

(Note: A few days after that Aug. 25 interview, Dillon's marriage was in trouble when he was arrested in Federal Way, Wash., for fourth-degree assault in an incident with his wife. He has consistently denied hitting her and while the trial is set for the week of Jan. 22, the couple and their 22-month-old daughter, Cameron, are living together in Cincinnati.)

DILLON: (My faith) is as strong as ever before. This just shows how good He is. How He's dealing with me and He's just guiding me. It's another testimony for me. I can truly tell you how I went from the bottom to the top.

I'm a true eyewitness. It's something I can tell other people that He is good and it's for real how He's blessed me and taken my career to a different plateau. People can just see for themselves.

HOBSON: You can talk about how your whole life has been like that. How you turned it around. But how about just in the last two months?

DILLON: From the tail end to the top. If you had asked anybody, 'Do you think Corey Dillon can do this?' six or seven weeks ago, they probably would have said you're out of your mind.

HOBSON: What about your personal life, too?

DILLON: It was a test for me. As a Christian, you're going to be faced with tests. It was just another test in my life to see where I was at. If I was going to falter, or if I was going to continue to stay faithful and trust and believe. I trusted and believed.

HOBSON: You and your wife look to be working it out and that has to be a good feeling for you. She was here for the record game.

DILLON: That's an old thing to us. We've put that behind us. Through this whole thing, what's been most important to me is my home situation. My family. My wife. My daughter. Being stable and strong for them. Being there for them. The football stuff is great, but my No. 1 priority is home.

They're here. That's a good thing. It's a blessing. It could have gone the other way.

HOBSON: If God wasn't in your life, how would it have gone?

DILLON: It would have been ugly. Real ugly. There have been things in my life I probably would have lost my mind to be honest with you. The grace and power of the Lord kept my mind intact and kept my focus on Him and the things He has in store for me and the things He wants me to do for Him. If I didn't have his guidance, I don't know what would have happened.

My whole life is a testimony. I'm not even supposed to be here, according to some people.

HOBSON: Who would play you in the move?

DILLON: Who would want to?

HOBSON: It's really a great story. (After a tough upbringing in Seattle that resulted in several brushes with the law as a juvenile, every NFL team ignored his first-round talent in the '97 Draft).

DILLON: I've had some moments in my life. I'm not a perfect person. I'm growing as a person. I'm working to get my life to where I want it to be. Since I've become a Born Again Christian, my life has been a lot happier than it was. It's been a lot more joyful since I found Him. Or He found me, however you want to write it.

HOBSON: Is Cameron still on the Sesame Street thing?

DILLON: I know Elmo back and forth. It's been Elmo, and Oscar and Big Bird. After practice, it's being a full-time Daddy.

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