Former Cincinnati Bengals star running back, Corey Dillon, has sparked a public controversy over the franchise's Ring of Honor selection process. Dillon, the Bengals' all-time leading rusher, who once famously claimed he'd prefer to "flip burgers" rather than being embroiled in a contract dispute with the club, has openly criticized the team's approach to honoring its past players.
"This ain't a popularity contest," Dillon fired back during an interview. "This is football. Are you going to put in someone who's more popular than someone who's got stats?" Dillon is aggrieved by the Bengals' approach to delegate the selection process to their season-ticket holders, a strategy he perceives as a shield to deflect potential backlash.
"Bengals are smart. I give it to them. We will put it in the hands of the season-ticket holders, so they don't have to take that backlash over who the voters are picking," Dillon remarked. He expressed frustration that the team doesn't directly make these decisions, believing that many of these season-ticket holders never watched him or his peers play.
A Bitter Parting and Lingering Resentment
After a period of frustration and discontent, the team decided to trade Dillon to the New England Patriots for a second-round pick. Reflecting on the trade, Dillon was quoted in an ESPN report from 2004 saying, "I guess Cincinnati got exactly what they wanted.
Corey Dillon got exactly what he wanted. I'm happy. It's a good deal all around, I think." However, his recent statements suggest the lingering resentment towards his former club. In his interview, Dillon voiced his doubt that he would be recognized by the Bengals in the foreseeable future.
"I'm pretty sure they will put f---ing Jon Kitna in there before they put me," Dillon told The Athletic with a certain bitterness. "Matter of fact, Scott Mitchell will end up in that - before I do." Corey Dillon's grievances have brought the Bengals' Ring of Honor selection process under scrutiny.
His comments highlight a conflict between the team's approach to celebrating its past and the perceptions and expectations of its former players. Whether this controversy will lead to a change in the Bengals' practices remains to be seen, but it undoubtedly raises questions about how sports franchises honor their past.
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