A self-described party animal in high school and early in college, Dilfer became a born-again Christian the summer before his sophomore year, around the time he began dating a Fresno State classmate, swimmer Cassandra Franzman. The two married in July 1993 and have seldom indulged in more than a glass or two of wine at dinner since. "I've been criticized by teammates for not going to bars and not carousing," Dilfer says. "Right after they traded Craig, it got back to me that one of my teammates was saying, 'Craig would buy drinks for the whole team and party all night. He was one of the guys. Trent won't even go to a bar. How can you be a leader and not go out with the guys?' "
This is a sensitive issue for Dilfer. It often takes him an hour or two to fall asleep after he goes to bed, and among his restless musings is a gnawing desire to be embraced by his teammates. "I don't think even my wife knows this, but I sit up at night thinking about how badly I want them to love me," he says. "Maybe it's the little boy inside me, but I want each of them to say, 'There's nobody in the world I'd rather have on that field with me than Trent.' "
Dilfer tagged along to bars on a few occasions in 1995, but, he says, "I felt very uncomfortable. There was a period when I tried to be somebody I wasn't."
Says Cassandra, "He drew the line al going to strip joints, but there were times when we put ourselves in places that weren't right for us, probably more to be accepted than anything."
Staying true to his convictions is only one of many self-help strategies Dilfer has developed during his pro career. Don't ask him to list his weaknesses unless you have an hour to spare. His rundown:
•Immaturity. "I just didn't handle adversity very well," he says. "When things were going bad, I didn't know how to pull myself out of it. Having a baby [his and Cassandra's daughter, Madeleine, is 15 months old] helped." Dilfer is especially remorseful over the comments he made about Wyche, who later publicly questioned Dilfer's work ethic but nonetheless praised his ability to Dungy "I took the low road, and I was wrong," Dilfer says. "Were some of the things I said justified? Absolutely. Should I have said them? Absolutely not. Sam gave me chances I didn't deserve, and I hurt him."
•Selfishness. "I've always been a team guy, but several times I felt what was best for me was best for the team."
•Pride, 'it can keep you from learning about yourself and accepting criticism."
•Failure to follow through. "A lot of time? I had good intentions to do something, like help a receiver after practice, but I'd get distracted."
•Lacking perspective. "I thought if I looked forward to success, it would just happen, and I was unprepared."