6-26-03, 3:55 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Corey Dillon runs "Beyond The Glory," Sunday night in Fox Sports Net's hour-long look at the life of the Bengals' all-time leading rusher.
The latest episode of the Emmy-nominated series premieres 8 p.m. Sunday, to be followed by re-runs on Wednesday, July 2 at 2 p.m., Thursday, July 3 at noon, and Friday July 4 at 11:30 p.m. Fox Sports Net Ohio is running all the shows, narrated by actor D.B. Sweeney and written and produced by David Schiff.
Schiff says his piece probably doesn't break new ground for Bengals' fans about Dillon's rise to stardom despite a troubled youth. But it is an effort to tell Dillon's story to a national audience that knows his name, but little else about the man who broke Walter Payton's NFL single-game rushing record with 278 yards against Denver in a Oct. 22, 2000 game at Paul Brown Stadium.
"It's like Al Michaels said when we sat down to talk to him abut Corey," Schiff said of ABC-TV's Monday night play-by-play man. "Here's a guy you never see. He's never in the playoffs. He's on a bad team that is never on Monday night. And yet he has done some of the most amazing things and people don't know who he is."
So Schiff had about 45 minutes without commercials to educate the nation, and spent
about the first 20 to 25 minutes exploring his turbulent high school career in Seattle that included several problems with the law. Among those interviewed is Dillon's coach at Franklin High School, Joe Slye.
"Once you get to know Corey, you like him," Slye told Fox. "If you don't look at the hype and the persona that follows him and all of the buildup about how bad a person he is...if you sit down one on one and talk with him, he's a very personable, likeable person."
Schiff also interviewed Dillon's mother, his two older brothers, and close friends such as Bengals linebacker Adrian Ross. He also said both Dillon and his wife, Desiree, were up front and candid about the August, 2000 incident in which he was charged with fourth-degree assault against her.
The remaining 20 minutes or so focuses on a football career that has been marked by the spectacular. There is the NFL record, the 246 yards against the Oilers that broke Jim Brown's rookie record in 1997, and the 222 yards in the first quarter against San Jose State when he was running for the University of Washington.
Bengals' fans won't be surprised by Schiff's revelation that his best interview was former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason. Esiason, also miffed about going in the second round in the 1984 draft, recounts how he told Dillon he couldn't let slipping out of the first round haunt him for the rest of his career.
Schiff says he had an interesting conversation with former Saints coach Mike Ditka about Dillon's 1997 draft. In fact, Dillon and his family were under the impression that the Saints were going to take him with the 10th pick. But since that was the year after the Rams took so much heat for taking another troubled running back, Lawrence Phillips, Ditka indicated the Saints thought they were better off drafting guard Chris Naeole. New Orleans had a lot of company. Every team passed on Dillon, allowing the Bengals to pick him with the draft's 43rd selection in the second round.
Dillon talks about his frustrations with the Bengals' constant losing, telling Fox, "I thought we had a ton of talent and didn't use that talent to full capacity." Yet a good deal of the piece is spent reviewing the record day.
"I just fell to my knees and thanked the Lord for blessing me and giving me the opportunity to be out there playing," Dillon said. "In the same token, I paid my respects to Walter."
Schiff also wrote and produced a "Beyond The Glory," about Jets running back Curtis Martin, which airs July 13. Other upcoming segments in the series feature Greg Louganis July 6, a special two-hour episode profiling Mike Tyson July 16, Cal Ripken Jr. July 20, Tony Hawk July 27, Jerome Bettis Aug. 3, and Bobby Bowden Aug. 31.