FOXBOROUGH -- Corey Dillon is the father of a bouncing baby girl who is as cute as can be.
The bundle of joy was born Tuesday, Aug. 16 (or thereabouts) last year.
''It is what it is," said the proud papa with a smile.
And Corey Dillon is what he is: a tough, even nasty football player; a pounding, physical runner whose career numbers have crept past average into almost-great territory; a seemingly irritable sort (if you believe what has been written) who has a disdain for the spotlight that is the byproduct of his ability and chosen profession; a man who will not tell you his 5-month-old daughter's name.
And if that bothers you . . . too bad.
''I come to work to work, I don't have time to be bothered with all that," Dillon told the Globe Thursday. ''All the extras I don't like, and I've never liked them. I like doing my job and going home. All the extras can at times be good, but sometimes it can be nerve-racking."
Dillon isn't comfortable in front of television cameras and reporters' microphones. It is then that the entire world is watching, waiting, wanting to get a piece of a person who doesn't want to share anything more than his ability to run the football.
''I like just being a normal person," Dillon said. ''This is work. This is what I do. It's nothing that monumental, that overwhelming. I realize people see it in a different perspective, 'Oh, you play in the NFL; you play for the Pats,' but the way I look at it is this is my job, this is what I do."
What he does, however, brings tens of thousands together in celebration of victory or disappointment after defeat. Like the nearly 70,000 that will gather tonight at Gillette Stadium when the Patriots face Jacksonville in the first round of the AFC playoffs.
Dillon says he likes the fans and appreciates their admiration. As for the media, well . . . you can't put many of the things he's said in a family newspaper. But it's nothing personal, according to Dillon, and it's not about what the media write or say, it's about an invasion of his privacy.
''I think Corey is misunderstood," Patriots safety Artrell Hawkins said. ''Being his teammate in Cincinnati, he had some bad press there. But when you were around him, you understand him more intimately. He's always been a tremendous running back. Rising to the occasion, year in and year out. When I actually sit back and think about it, I've never played with someone with more passion."
Hawkins played with Dillon for six seasons in Cincinnati, where Dillon developed a reputation as a malcontent. He doesn't argue that he was unhappy and at times voiced his opinion, but says it was because he played for a losing team and organization.
In seven seasons as a Bengal, when he became the franchise's all-time leading rusher, Dillon's teams lost 78 regular-season games. Well, the ''regular season" designation is unnecessary because Cincinnati never made the playoffs and its best record during that time was 8-8.
That is why Dillon wants to bask in the glow of this week, preparing for the playoffs with his teammates, not spend time answering the one question he's been asked in every interview this season: What's wrong with the Patriots' running game?
''I played my whole career to get into situations like this," he said. ''This doesn't come around often, and I can vouch for that. I played seven years prior to this where [this week] I'm at home watching."
Dillon has clear recall of having to shut down every season around New Year's Day, while other teams were preparing for the playoffs.
''Do I remember? Do I remember? I remember being packed before the [last regular-season] game even started, so that right after it was over I was out of there," Dillon said. ''I have visions in my mind of that and I don't like that feeling.
''The last couple of years have been great for me, career-wise. It's been gratifying because I'm enjoying it and reaching some of the goals I've been wanting to from Day 1."
Those are all team goals, Dillon says, though his team-record, 1,635-yard season a year ago proved quite beneficial to his bank account. Topping the 1,600-yard mark meant a $375,000 bonus.
Last offseason, the Patriots rewarded Dillon with a new contract that will pay him at least $10 million for this season and next, and could mean a $5 million average for the following three seasons if he does more of what he did last season.
''I didn't come here to be the show, I don't have to," he said. ''I came here to be a team player, and to help this team win championships. Whether I get 1 yard or 200 yards . . . as long as we're out there winning, I don't give a rat's [behind].
''I have stats, plenty of stats. If I get 1 yard more or 1 yard less, is it really going to make a difference? I enjoy going out there and competing and wanting to be the best I can be, but sometimes in order to reach the ultimate goal you have to put the individual stuff away. I've learned to do that.
''It isn't about me, it isn't about the rushing game. It's about winning Super Bowls. And if you can't feel me on that -- that it's not about my yards, and that I just want to win -- then I don't know what to tell you.
''It's all about that ultimate goal, and that's the kick I've been on since I've been here."
Some are starting to wonder if he is still kicking with the vigor he had back in the day. Back in the day being a season ago.
In 2004, Dillon ripped up defenses for a franchise-high (and career-best) nine 100-yard rushing games during the regular season, then added another against Indianapolis in the playoffs. This season, he has topped 100 yards just twice, and just barely -- 106 yards at Atlanta and 102 at Buffalo.
A year ago, Dillon rushed for 878 yards in eight regular-season games at Gillette. This year, the home turf has been far from kind, as he has just 351 yards in six games there, having sat out two contests because of injury.
Dillon basically missed five games this season (he played only one play at Miami) and finished with only 733 yards, less than half his 2004 total and nearly 500 yards below his career average. It was the second-worst year of his career, ahead of the 541 yards he managed in his last year in Cincinnati after suffering a groin injury early in the season and then not getting much playing time.
Now 31, Dillon hears talk that his age is the reason for his drop-off. And surely some will bring it up that his best season in Cincinnati (1,435 yards in 2000) came in the last year of a contract, and his huge year with the Patriots came in a below-market-value, prove-it-to-us contractual situation.
He has heard it all and he figuratively points to his shoulder and describes the chip that is there.
''That chip's permanent," Dillon said. ''The [stuff] I've been through. I shouldn't be where I'm at, doing what I'm doing, if I left it up to everybody else.
''But hey, I'm here, I'm still doing it, and it shows a lot about my character. I've been counted out, kicked on, thrown dirt on millions of time, but I'm still here surviving."
''People are going to kick more rocks on me, but I'm still here."
Dillon, who is listed as probable with a calf injury that has nagged him since mid-November, said he is healthy and ready to go.
''It's exciting because there are a lot of other teams at home who wish they could be in your position," he said. ''It's win or go home. It's where everybody has to bring his A-game. And that includes me."
He would just rather not talk about it.
Dillon finds it odd that some media members find it odd that he doesn't like to talk when he thinks he has nothing to say, which is most of the time. That said, Dillon has a peculiar locker room persona.
He rarely grants interviews, yet the media asks him if he would like to talk every time he walks into the dressing room. Tight end Daniel Graham, who like Dillon, ''isn't a big media guy," is in the locker room more than any other player on the team during the daily media availability, yet he is rarely approached with interview requests.
''I like it that way," said Graham, who has been known to rub on a strong-scented balm that he jokingly calls ''media repellent." Maybe he should give Dillon a few jars of it.
''I want to be myself," Dillon said. ''I'm never going to change who I am for nobody. I'm not going to get in front of somebody and pretend I'm somebody I'm not."
Media may not have gotten close to Dillon, but his teammates show him nothing but love.
''Corey's the man," running back Patrick Pass said. ''He's a good guy, a hard worker, and somebody who really wants to win."
''He's a lot of fun; light-hearted," Hawkins said. ''He jokes around with the guys. He's not an egomaniac and not one to cause problems with a teammate."
And somehow, the man who doesn't want to be bothered has managed to be nice enough to the media that they won't leave him alone. The back-and-forths this season have been entertaining, with Dillon declining probably nine out of 10 interview requests mostly with jokes about his age, then being honest and straightforward, or very funny and engaging in the times he allowed the media into his world.
Even Thursday, after delivering a flat-toned, profanity-laced rip to the media on his lack of concern about their opinions, he laughed a friendly chuckle, told them he loved them, and said he was sorry. They left confused and wanting to ask him more questions.
He answered most of the Globe's questions that day.
What's your daughter's name?
''One of these days," Dillon said. ''For now, just know she's healthy, and that's all that should matter."
Jerome Solomon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org