While Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has caused serious controversy in his first week on the team, one former Patriot is tired of having his name attached to Brown’s story.
Corey Dillon, like Brown, made the move from a team he was unhappy with, the Cincinnati Bengals, to New England in 2004. It was a decision that resulted in a Super Bowl title the following year, but Dillon continued to face criticism. While there were no YouTube videos or social media posts to document his reaction to the Bengals trading him, Dillon’s past comments about the team (“[I] would rather flip burgers than play for the Bengals”) caused many to question his character.
Dillon is tired of having his story appear as a model for how players are rehabilitated on the Patriots. In an interview with The Athletic, Dillon set the record “straight” about his name appearing in relation to Antonio Brown’s situation.
“I’ve got nothing against AB. He’s a hell of a football player,” he said. “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 clarified that his decision to leave Cincinnati was simply because of his frustrations with the team and their performance. After having had multiple conversations with former Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis, the two just could not “meet eye to eye.”
“He shrugged his shoulders on me, like there’s nothing he could do,’ he said. “At that very moment, I said, “I’m outta here. I’m done.”
Dillon had visits with other teams, including the Oakland Raiders, but after meeting with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, he felt like he could be most successful in New England:
“The Patriots weren’t even on my radar at the time,” he continued. “I went there and had a sit down with Bill and (former vice president of player personnel) Scott Pioli and it was pretty simple. He heard about some stuff that was going on in Cincinnati, and I told him all that stemmed from not winning games. My whole desire and passion was winning football games. So all that negativity and stuff down there was from not winning. He said he understood and he asked me, “Do you think you could play for us?” I said, “Absolutely,” and that was the end of that. A few days later I was signing a contract and I was a Patriot.”
Dillon doesn’t think the labels on his character have been fair.
“If they knew what I was going through in Cincinnati, my name wouldn’t even be mentioned in that light,” Dillon said. “If you want to bring me up, to be frank, I’m a Super Bowl champ. So why don’t you say, ‘Go be like Corey Dillon, a Super Bowl champ who went over and won one with New England?’ Instead of, ‘Corey Dillon, this problem player that the Patriots picked up and changed his life?'”
Dillon says he wishes Brown well.
“The thing about AB, I’m praying for my brother,” says Dillon. “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.”