Thursday, July 06, 2000

Hey Corey, I've got a job for ya

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If Corey Dillon still doesn't feel wanted, it can be only because he's not paying attention.

        Every fast-food joint you pass is pleading for help. If Dillon is resolved to flip burgers before he suits up again for the Cincinnati Bengals — as he has said — he should have no difficulty landing a job.

        Heck, I landed Dillon a job Thursday afternoon with one phone call. “I'll give him $5.25 an hour, no benefits, and he has to sweat,” said Fotis Paskal, who owns, manages and cooks for two Sports Page restaurants downtown. “If he takes the deal, give me a call immediately. I'll pick him up in my van. He can take home $200 a week instead of $200,000 a week. Tell him to think about that.”

        Corey Dillon is a fine running back, and it is entirely possible he could achieve greatness behind a grill, but asking him to think is asking for trouble.

Some poor planning
        Dillon has rejected lucrative contract offers — including one reportedly recommended by his agent — in favor of a counterproductive course of action that would neither free him from the Bengals nor stamp him as management material at McDonald's.

        His plan is to sit out the first 10 games of the season, returning to work for the final six games only for the sake of service time. Doing so could cost Dillon a million dollars or more in 2000 salary and might not make him an unrestricted free agent, for the Bengals still could declare him a “franchise” player and retain his rights.

        It's conceivable the Bengals will become so desperate for forward progress they eventually will cave to Dillon's demands. It's possible some trade could be proposed that would appease all parties. It's plausible Dillon's 2000 holdout could lead him to more money in 2001. Yet at this point — two weeks before training camp — it is hard to see Dillon's strategy as anything but stubborn, short-sighted and silly.

        He's forsaking the bird in the hand for the albatross around his neck — pride.

"A different world'
        Dillon claims he has been “misused and mistreated” by the Bengals, but his specific complaints are vague and his general demeanor is dour. Though his career in Cincinnati has been marked mainly by acclaim, adulation and achievement, Dillon tends to dwell on perceived slights and invisible insults. If he gave it any thought, he might think he had it pretty good. He might own this town with a little effort.

        Instead, he makes threats that are either empty or ill-conceived. He dispenses radio rhetoric that is long on passion and short on logic. His efforts to pressure the Bengals into trading him have been futile, and his persistent posturing only proves how out of touch athletes can be.

        Dillon has every right to hold out for any amount of money, but he should have more sense than to expect sympathy.

        “He's in a different world,” Paskal said. “He should learn to appreciate what he's got. He makes me laugh.”

        Simply put, Dillon is wanted, but not at any price. This puts him in the same category as every other employee on the planet. The Bengals have offered a back-loaded package potentially worth $21.3 million over five years. Dillon, however, defines “respect” as $5 million a year.

        There is room for compromise. There is time to haggle. There are better ways to make a buck than flipping burgers.

        E-mail Tim Sullivan at