FOXBORO, Mass. -- Corey Dillon came to the New England Patriots to be surrounded by the trappings of success. When his teammates collect their Super Bowl rings, though, he won't be there.
He wants to earn an invitation first.
"Why would I go?" he said Friday. "That's something for them."
Maybe next year Dillon will be able to claim a ring of his own, but for now he's doing what he can to earn one. The first step was to come to the defending Super Bowl champions in a trade he helped force by making himself unwelcome with his old team.
The Cincinnati Bengals traded Dillon - on Patriots Day - to New England for a second-round pick. He was able to convince the Patriots' brass that he wasn't a malcontent. He was just unhappy playing for a team that hadn't made the playoffs or even posted a winning record since 1990, despite adding the record-breaking running back in 1997.
"Seven years of not winning is a long time," Dillon said at minicamp this week. "(The Patriots) got to know me. They figured out that I'm legit and a good guy. ... I just wanted to be part of an organization that thrives on winning, and winning is everything. And I'm here, and I'm in a good situation and I like it."
Dillon couldn't have picked a better place to land. The Patriots have won two of the last three NFL titles, and they've done it with a team-first attitude that players credit for the success.
"I can see why they won two Super Bowls," he said. "I'm talking about, from top to bottom, people care about you and they want you to succeed."
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady said the players know their teammates are doing their jobs, playing hurt and not complaining about it, and that makes everyone work harder.
"That's why I'm excited to be here," Brady said. "Hopefully, that's why he's excited, too."
Defensive back Jeff Burris also came to New England from Cincinnati, signing with the Patriots as a free agent a day after they traded Dillon. Burris spent just two years with Cincinnati and didn't direct the same venom at his former team.
But he, too, could sense a different attitude.
"Cincy's headed in that same direction," Burris said. "But it's a different life to come here. In this league, everyone has talented players. What makes a difference is how you look at things - the drive, the hunger to be better, to be the best you can be and to be a great team."
Burris also played for Indianapolis and was originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the first season after their four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Unlike Dillon, who never made the playoffs, Burris has gone to the postseason four times.
But he's never been to the Super Bowl.
Seeing his new teammates walking around with their rings, which will be handed out in a party at owner Bob Kraft's house Sunday, will be a reminder of "something to work for," Burris said. "That's a motivator. It's something that's eluded me."
Wide receiver Troy Brown, who has been with New England long enough to remember when it was a losing organization, said it is the duty of the 2003 Patriots to instill a winning attitude in the newcomers.
"Attitude is passed on from player to player," he said. "We've got a lot of guys here that have won championships. You can pass that on to the other guys. I'm a firm believer in that."
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