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Peter King
November 20, 2000
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November 20, 2000

The Nfl

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"Gary showed a great deal of courage coming back here," says Detroit executive vice president Chuck Schmidt. "We all make mistakes, but his is in the past. He's a man of character, and he's here to stay."
—Josh Elliott

Corey Dillon's Future
Bengal Sitting On a Gold Mine

Cincinnati running back Corey Dillon still seems embarrassed about breaking Walter Payton's NFL single-game rushing record. Dillon ran for 278 yards against the Broncos on Oct. 22, bettering by three yards the mark Payton had set in 1977. As he sat at his locker recently at Paul Brown Stadium, he searched for the right words to describe how he felt. "Sad? No," he said. "It's like, I shouldn't have that record. That's Walter Payton's record. He's the greatest running back of all time, or one of the top two or three. I just thought it would always be his. He's so great."

So, too, is Dillon. Even with a poor supporting cast that rarely gives him the chance to pile up yards in the fourth quarter, Dillon still is on pace for his fourth 1,100-yard rushing season in as many years. He also figures to be a rich man in the near future.

After an acrimonious preseason holdout, Dillon signed a one-year, $3 million contract that includes one significant clause: Cincinnati cannot slap its franchise-player tag on him after this season. Carrying such a designation would have forced another team to send the Bengals a pair of first-round draft picks or some other agreed-upon compensation if it wanted to sign the 25-year-old Dillon. Cincinnati can still make him its transition player and match any offer, but it's doubtful the Bengals would hand him a signing bonus that figures to be in the $12 million range. Also, with another club having to give up only first-and third-round selections to sign Dillon, the compensation wouldn't be that stiff, especially for a team that will probably be picking in the second half of Round 1—the Packers, the Chiefs or the Bills?—in next April's draft.

Dillon, who ran for 94 yards in a 23-6 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, says he hasn't ruled out returning to the downtrodden Bengals. "I want to be part of the solution," he says. "But I also want to win. After the season, I'll have some options. I want to see what's out there."

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