Cincinnati special teams coach Al Roberts, who was Dillon's position coach at Washington, has been an invaluable confidant for Dillon, who trusts few people. "Corey is a completely different person now," says Roberts. "He can handle himself now, because he's more mature."
Still, there have been more bumps along the way. In March 1998 Dillon was arrested in Seattle for driving under the influence. He pleaded guilty to negligent driving and received two years' probation. Then last August he was charged with fourth-degree assault in Seattle after fighting in the car with his wife of six months, Desiree. Police reports supported Corey's claim that Desiree started the altercation and that he was trying to defend himself. The charge will be dropped after 18 months if Dillon complies with conditions imposed by the court.
He finally seems to be making better choices. Every summer since 1997 he has run a free, weeklong football camp for inner-city kids in Seattle, where he leases a house and returns to live several months during the off-season. In April 1999, after a religious awakening, he quit drinking and smoking. Desiree says their two-year-old daughter, Cameron, has "softened the heart" of her husband.
"I know a lot of people never expected me to get this far, but I've done it because I've been focused," Dillon says. "I went through the back door to get here, jumped through some windows and hopped over a few fences, but the end result is that I'm [an NFL star]. I'm exactly where I've dreamed of being."
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