Tuesday, February 22, 2000

Dillon: Let me out of here


He'd rather 'flip burgers' than be Bengal

BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon said Monday he'll sit out the season if he is still a Bengal after restricted free agency ends April 10.

        “Tell Mr. (Mike) Brown to please let me sign with a team that really wants me, and let's both move on with our lives,” Dillon said.

        “Don't make it sound like I'm crazy or mad,” Dillon said. “This is just the way I see it.”

        The way Dillon sees it, the Bengals put him on the back-burner the past year in an effort to sign other players. It culminated with recent multiyear deals for free-agent defensive linemen Vaughn Booker and Tom Barndt, as well as left tackle Rod Jones.

        The Bengals have tendered Dillon a one-year contract for $1.37 million, giving them the right to match another offer or receive that team's first- and third-round draft picks.

        Asked what he'll do if no team signs him and his rights revert to the Bengals, Dillon said, “I'll be flipping burgers or something. I'll sit. They can take their $1.3 million and they know what they can do with it. I'll play for 50 bucks somewhere else.”

        Dillon, who took his crusade to the Seattle airwaves on Monday — he phoned KJR-AM, a sports talk station, whose hosts quizzed him on-air before becoming convinced it was actually Corey Dillon — said he can see himself playing for his hometown Seahawks. He also could see himself in Baltimore or Kansas City, where he visits today.

        Brown, the Bengals president, tried to give Dillon a message: “We like you; we want you back.”

        “The normal pace of negotiations for restricted free agents is slow because other things are on the burner ahead of that,” Brown said. “The (unrestricted free agents) have to be addressed and that's what we're focusing on, as well as the rest of the league. Normally, talks with restricted free agents pick up after the draft. We plan to give them another offer.”

        But Dillon, first Bengals running back to make the Pro Bowl in seven years, wasn't buying that.

        “They're trying to get me cheap off another team,” Dillon said. “I'm not stupid. If they're saving a chunk of money for me to match, just give me an offer.

        “They've signed everyone else under the moon and haven't tried to sign me. They've disrespected me. It's too late now. The window is closed.”

        Dillon thinks one of the reasons the Bengals held off negotiating seriously is because “they were waiting around to see if I got hurt.”

        During training camp, the Bengals made a six-year, $18 million offer.

        Marvin Demoff, Dillon's agent, said two weeks before the opener he didn't want to negotiate once the season started. Demoff noticed his client's frustration growing since free agency began nearly two weeks ago.

        Dillon called for daily updates and was told the only Demoff client the Bengals consistently contacted him about was Chargers punter Darren Bennett.

        “Put yourself in the shoes of a 24-year-old guy,” Demoff said. “The team you've played for for three years is calling me about a punter and doesn't mention him. He's frustrated, but this is vintage Corey and maybe it shows Mike his level of frustration.”

        Demoff reiterated his surprise a player of Dillon's accomplishments still waits for serious talks this late into restricted free agency. He said it reflects where Dillon is in the club's priorities.

        “If they're going to wait until after the draft, maybe they could call and let him know,” Demoff said.

        Neither Demoff nor Brown said Dillon has burned a bridge in Cincinnati. But Dillon says he won't be back.

        “Please take the one and the three,” Dillon said of the draft picks. “No hard feelings.”

       



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