Former NFL RB Corey Dillon says he deserves to be in Hall of Fame: 'Because I earned it'

Corey Dillon enjoyed a very productive 10-year NFL career before he retired in 2007.

He rushed for more than 11,000 yards — including six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons — and scored 89 total touchdowns. Dillion also made four Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2004.

Dillon's stats rank among the best in the NFL all-time, and he is among 14 running backs with at least 10,000 career rushing yards who averaged more than 4.3 yards per attempt. He broke Jim Brown's rookie rushing record in a game in 1997 and Walter Payton's single-game rushing yards record in 2000. Both have since been broken.

And yet, a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame eludes him. Dillon still doesn't have a spot in the Cincinnati Bengals' Ring of Honor — where he was drafted and spent the first seven years of his career — either.

That doesn't sit right with him. Dillon told The Athletic's Paul Dehner Jr. that his exclusion from the Bengals' Ring of Honor is "damn-near criminal," and he's "pretty sure they will put [expletive] Jon Kitna in there before they put me."

"I want it all. I am coming for it all," Dillon said about the Ring of Honor and the Hall of Fame. "You know why? Because I earned it."

Among those 14 running backs with at least 10,000 yards and a 4.3 yards-per-rush average, eight are in the Hall of Fame (Payton, Brown, Barry Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett, Marshall Faulk and O.J. Simpson). Of the six that aren't, three aren't eligible for the Hall yet: Frank Gore will be eligible in 2026, LeSean McCoy will be eligible in 2025 and Adrian Peterson won't be until five years after he officially retires, something that could happen as soon as next year.

But Dillon has been eligible since 2012. The same goes for Fred Taylor, who actually has better career numbers than Dillon. Tiki Barber is the other not yet in the Hall, though his 10,449 career rushing yards rank 27th all time. Dillon, Taylor, Gore, McCoy and Steven Jackson are also the only 11,000-yard running backs not in the Hall of Fame.

Corey Dillon is one of the only 11,000-yard rushers not in the Hall of Fame. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Corey Dillon is one of only five 11,000-yard rushers not in the Hall of Fame. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

So, what gives? Dillon has his theories on why he hasn't made the Ring or the Hall.

On the Bengals' Ring of Honor: "I think they are mad at me for being vocal and going on to win a championship. That’s the only thing I can think of," Dillon said, likely a reference to when he asked the Bengals to trade him in 2000 and famously said he rather be "flipping burgers" than play for Cincinnati. He also threw his helmet, shoulder pads and cleats following the Bengals' Week 17 game in 2003. Dillon was traded to the Patriots in 2004, where he won a Super Bowl.

"I’m not down in Cincinnati, in the main office saying hello to [Bengals owner and president] Mike Brown every day," Dillon added. "That ain’t going to happen. That shouldn’t negate my accomplishments on the field. Nothing should negate what you do on the field because that’s where it’s actually done."

As for the Hall of Fame, Dillon doesn't think his off-field issues should play a role in his on-field accolades. Dillon was charged with fourth-degree assault after an altercation with his then-wife in 2000. He was also arrested for DUI and spousal abuse in 2010. The charges for the spousal abuse were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence.

"I don’t want to get into people’s personal business, but there are a lot of Hall of Famers that did far more worse [expletive] than I did," Dillon said. "We can cancel out that excuse. There is no excuse for that. On top of that, I thought the game was predicated on numbers. Are people looking at the numbers like, 'Nah, nah?' I don’t think so."

The numbers back up Dillon, but numbers don't vote. And until the Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor voters decide to induct Dillon, he'll have to continue to sit and wait and watch before he joins these exclusive groups.

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