CINCINNATI -- Former Bengals running back Corey Dillon is flipping mad about the franchise's ring of honor selection process.
The Bengals' all-time leading rusher -- who once famously said he'd "flip burgers" during a contract dispute with the club -- took shots at how the team honors its former players. In an interview with The Athletic published Thursday, Dillon didn't hold back as he took umbrage with the process that features votes from season-ticket holders and suite holders. He said it was "garbage" and the selection should be done directly by the front office or a special committee.
"This ain't a popularity contest," Dillon told the outlet. "This is football. You are going to put in somebody who is more popular than somebody who got stats?
"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. That's bulls---. The s--- should come straight from the team. Half these season-ticket holder people never seen half of us play."
Dillon, a second-round pick in the 1997 draft, played for the Bengals for seven seasons. During that span he made three Pro Bowls and rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all but his final season with the club, which was the franchise's first year under coach Marvin Lewis.
The team ended up trading the disgruntled Dillon to the New England Patriots for a second-round pick.
"I guess Cincinnati got exactly what they wanted," he said in an ESPN report from 2004. "Corey Dillon got exactly what he wanted. I'm happy. It's a good deal all around, I think."
The move also ended a rocky tenure in Cincinnati that included an arrest for domestic violence in 2000. News reports indicated that Dillon entered pretrial diversion in exchange for the case to be dropped. In his first season with the Patriots, he surpassed the 1,000-yard mark again, was named to the Pro Bowl and helped New England win Super Bowl XXXIX against the Philadelphia Eagles, with Dillon scoring a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Dillon told The Athletic his trade to New England shouldn't exclude him from the ring of honor and said his omission is "damn-near criminal."
The bulk of his 10-year NFL career was spent with the Bengals. His 8,061 rushing yards and 1,865 attempts lead the franchise in both categories by a wide margin, which is primarily why he believes he should be in Cincinnati's ring of honor. The franchise did not institute the honor until 2021, when it was spearheaded by team executive Elizabeth Blackburn, granddaughter of team president Mike Brown.
The Bengals have six members recognized in the group -- team founder Paul Brown, quarterback Ken Anderson, cornerback Ken Riley, offensive tackle Anthony Muñoz, wide receiver Isaac Curtis and offensive tackle Willie Anderson. Riley will be posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining Muñoz as the franchise's only players with a gold jacket. Anderson was a finalist in 2022 and was named to the franchise's ring of honor last year.
In his recent interview, Dillon said he didn't believe he would be recognized by his former club any time soon.
"I'm pretty sure they will put f---ing Jon Kitna in there before they put me," Dillon told The Athletic. "Matter of fact, Scott Mitchell will end up in that m-----f---er before I do."