February 23, 2007

Has "Clock Killin' " Corey Dillon Finally Worn Down The Clock Completely?

It was only a matter of time before Corey Dillon got restless in New England, although I must admit, he had me going for a while there.

The former All-pro running back, who joined the Patriots only a few short years ago, has asked for his release from the team today, indicating that he does not want to settle for a 7-10 carry a game role and is leaning towards retirement.

I don't think this move surprises anyone. First off, Dillon just finished his 10th season in the league, so in Running Back years, he's probably feeling about 55. Secondly, the Pats have a great young downhill runner in Laurence Maroney who can also make some real tracks to the outside. In otherwords, he's a pretty all-around runner as he showed this past season. Lastly, Corey Dillon had similar problems in Cincinnati with Rudi Johnson emerging as the featured back before he was traded by the Bengals a few years ago. So from both a Team standpoint and a Player's standpoint, this all makes perfect sense for multiple reasons.

Nonetheless, I can't help but feel a little bit let down. Dillon had been a pretty positive presence for the Pats, and I personally liked his running style. Even though he was a Bengal for 7 years, I couldn't dislike him too much, as he was a true AFC North Running Back. Big, strong, ran between the tackles and threw a "wicked"(pardon my borrowing a native New England colloquialism) stiff arm.

But, Corey doesn't leave the game without an impact. His 11,241 career rushing yards earn him 14th on the NFL's All-Time Rushing List, while his 82 career rushing TDs place him 17th among the All-Time leaders (PS - ESPN's list needs an update).

And I think we can all understand how at 32, after 10 years and all he's been able to accomplish stats wise (not to mention financially), he feels like retirement is the way to go. Personally, I think Emmitt Smith should've probably done the same after he left the Cowboys for Arizona (look how that turned out for him). So this is the smart move for Dillon. Still, I'm sure there are a lot of Pats fans out there who wish he'd stick around for one or two more years as a reliable back-up to Maroney, if not a spiritual leader.

Happy Trails, Corey Dillon...someday you'll be a Hall of Famer.

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