Corey Dillon sets the record straight on his Patriots career

Andy Hart
September 12, 2019 - 9:19 am

The addition of talented but troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown to the Patriots’ roster has rekindled past tales of reclamation projects in New England.

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One of the most common names brought up as an example of Bill Belichick’s ability to handle difficult players is running back Corey Dillon.

Apparently, Dillon does think that’s fair.

In an extended interview with The Athletic, the former Bengals and Patriots star attempted to clarify how his career unraveled in Cincinnati and took off upon arrival in Foxborough. Dillon had a career-high and Patriots-record 1,635 yards to help lead New England to a Super Bowl title in his first year in Foxborough in 2004.

“I’ve got nothing against AB. He’s a hell of a football player. I don’t know him personally. I’ve never had an opportunity to meet him,” Dillon told The Athletic. “But I just find it kind of curious every time the Patriots do something, or bring a guy in, my name comes up like I was a bad guy. I’m trying to set that straight.”

Dillon goes on to explain that his exit from Cincy was about the direction of the team, his desire to win and the way he was treated as one of the Bengals most talented, productive stars. He talks about the $4 million he gave up in a restructured contract in his trade to New England and how his goals, mentality and work ethic melded perfectly in the Patriots culture at the time. He certainly doesn’t think the Patriots “changed his life.”

“No, no, no. They didn’t change nothing,” Dillon tells The Athletic. “Let’s get this understood, man. I love Bill Belichick. Respect his coaching knowledge. Love him to death. I love Bob Kraft. But listen, (Belichick) wasn’t my therapist. It wasn’t every day I was sitting down in his office and he was giving me therapy on how to act, or how to play football. What actually happened was I was in a place where everybody shared the same common goal, and that was winning football games. It was all about playing the game and winning. And that was my personality in Cincinnati, so it made it easy to go over to New England. My personality meshed with the way they do things around there.”

As much as Dillon doesn’t want to be remembered as any sort of Patriots reclamation project, or included as an example in stories about the topic, he is seemingly rooting for Brown to write into his own success story in New England.

“So when these stories pop up about another player going to the Patriots, my name is one of the first ones they slap up there. Like I was some science project. Nah, buddy,” Dillon told The Athletic. “It didn’t go down like that.

“The thing about AB, I’m praying for my brother. I wish him well. It’s a perfect setup. All he has to do is go catch the football. All he has to do is show up and play and catch the football, and trust me, he will be knocking on a Super Bowl. It’s as easy as that. I’m happy for him. I’ll be watching that.”

Related: Patriots’ captains discuss Antonio Brown ‘situation,’ distraction