'Glory' reveals happier, humble Dillon
Greg Mastin - BengalsInsider.com
June 30, 2003 at 7:14am ET
Fox premiered its Beyond the Glory: Corey Dillon and reveals the man behind the checkered past and angry running style.
Beyond the Glory: Corey Dillon premiered Sunday night on Fox Sports Cincinnati, and the much-anticipated special (at least by Bengals fans) shed light on the star running back's past, his situation, and revealed a great deal about the individual, and not just the image portrayed by media reports and a checkered background.
The show began with a look at Dillon's record-breaking game against Denver, and a compelling statement by Monday Night Football broadcaster Al Michaels, comparing Dillon to Bears great Walter Payton. Like Payton, Dillon has spent the first part of his career putting up big numbers, but languishing in relative obscurity because he has had the misfortune of playing for a bad football team. It instantly brought to mind Payton's eventual rise to superstardom, Super Bowl Championship, and made us wonder if perhaps a similar future could be in store for Dillon.
The majority of the next hour focused on Dillon himself, and provided a compelling glimpse into his formative years, and the struggles he found off the field, despite his successes on it. Interviews with family, friends and coaches indicated a young man blessed with unbelievable talent, but made poor decisions which got him into trouble, both with the law and in the classroom. The most serious of these was a charge of Possession with Intent to Distribute, when one of Dillon's friends was found with crack cocaine. These problems would come back to haunt Dillon. Despite being a high school star, he found himself unwanted by the major colleges, including his beloved Washington Huskies.
A despondent Dillon gave up football for a time, and found work as a janitor. Humbled by this experience, he returned to football, and after two years toiling in the junior college ranks finally got his shot with the University of Washington. Dillon got his chance when starter Rashaan Shehee was hurt. Foreshadwing his pro career, Dillon put up some impressive individual game statistics, including 222 yards in one quarter against San Jose State. Fox showed some great highlights, and anyone familiar with Dillon's running style will recognize him juking and punishing the opposition. A decision to turn pro after his junior year was apparently met with some frustration by Husky coaches as Dillon blamed them for bad-mouthing him leading up to the draft. Dillon, who thought the Saints would take him with the 10th overall pick, ended up sliding all the way to the fortunate Bengals. Despite the show making it look like a no-brainer, it is known the Bengals only took Dillon when quarterback Jake Plummer and running back Tiki Barber were off the board.
Angry at the disrespect he felt was given to him by NFL teams and his former coaces at the University of Washington, Dillon made good on his vow to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, gaining over 1,000 yards and breaking Jim Brown's single game rookie rushing record on a nationally televised Thursday night game against the Oilers. Despite this success Dillon had issues early in his career. The show detailed those problems with the law early in his career and the peace he later found in God and his daughter. This peace is what helped him change from someone who seemed ready to leave the Bengals at the first opportunity, to someone willing to stay and become a factor in helping turn the franchise around.
Throughout the hour Dillon was honest and open about the problems he faced as a youth and a young adult. For the most part the insights from Dillon, his family coaches and friends was excellent and despite some teeth gritting sound bites from former Bengal coaches Al Roberts and Dick Lebeau, was riveting for this fan. If you missed last night's show, it will be replayed on Fox Sports Cincinnati at least three times this week. If you are outside the Cincinnati area it should be on whatever Fox Sports channel your local cable or satellite television carries. As they say, check your local listings. This is one show no Bengals fan should miss.