Friday, February 2, 2001
Dunns goodCharity begins at homes for Warrick Dunn -- new homes for single mothers, as many as he can afford.
deeds never done
The Bucs' back and his eight
teammates on the NFC squad think
they can add the word 'title'
to Super Bowl for Tampa
Pros ready to 'bowl'
Pro Bowl activities
By Dave Reardon
Last fall, for the fourth year in a row, the Pro Bowl running back of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers provided down payments for new houses for needy families through his "Homes for the Holidays" program.
He also stocks the houses with supplies and fixings for holiday meals, and helps work out deals with other sponsors for families who need assistance in making remaining mortgage payments.
The program has been so successful in the Tampa Bay area and Dunn's hometown of Baton Rouge, La., that it received an award from President Bill Clinton.
"It stemmed from my family background," Dunn said yesterday before the NFC practice at the Ihilani Resort. "The idea came around to try something and it worked."
The program is especially meaningful to Dunn because he was raised by a single mother, Betty Smothers.
It is in part a lasting tribute to Smothers, a Baton Rouge policewoman who was shot to death while working a second job as a security guard in 1993.
"It's for her in a sense. She did a lot of good things," said Dunn, who was one of six children raised by Smothers. "It's a program that's unique and hard to match."
So are Dunn's skills on the football field.
Despite a distinct lack of size at 5-foot-8, 180, Dunn has been one of the NFL's best running backs since entering the league in 1997.
Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks joins Dunn in strong work on the field and in the community. He's here for his fourth Pro Bowl in six NFL seasons and is considered one of the best three or four linebackers in the league.
He's also co-winner, with Chicago's Jim Flanigan, of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
Brooks was cited for his civic activities, including forming "Brooks' Bunch," which provides 24 Tampa Bay area children with tickets to each home game. He also took 20 kids on a 12-day educational trip to Africa.
Of course, Dunn, Brooks and their seven other Pro Bowl teammates from the Bucs would like to deliver something else special for Tampa Bay -- a Super Bowl championship.
They're glad to be here with so many teammates.
But it remains in the backs of their minds that if they've got the most guys here, logic dictates they should have survived further into the playoffs.
Philadelphia beat Tampa Bay, 21-3, in the NFC Wild Card game.
"It was definitely frustrating this year, especially since two other teams were playing in our stadium (in the Super Bowl)," said first-year Pro Bowl kicker Martin Gramatica, who did Super Bowl commentary for ESPN International.
But several Bucs said it was a good omen for them that a defense-based team such as the Baltimore Ravens won.
Tampa Bay yielded 20 or less points in 12 of its 16 regular season games in going 10-6.
"For teams like us who have that same philosophy, that gives us hope," safety John Lynch said. "Now teams like us who think we're good have to step up and match. It's good to have motivation like that."
Said Brooks: "They (the Ravens) hit home with the message that defense wins. Our team understands that message and we just want to get back to basics."
They take some solace in the Super success of former teammate Trent Dilfer. Despite constant fan and media criticism while playing with Tampa Bay, the current Ravens' quarterback was popular with the other Buccaneer players.
"It was nice to see," Gramatica said.
"Trent was such a nice teammate and a friend. He helped me a lot coming in as a rookie."
"All we can do is be happy for Trent," Dunn said.
"He's been through a lot and he's made it to the top. We hope we can join him there next year."
Pro Bowl 2001