While Terrell Owens was contemplating holding, Adam "Pacman" Jones and Sean Taylor were being arrested and charged with serious crimes, and Randy Moss was reliving his pot smoking-days in college and early NFL career with HBO, the Atlanta Falcons' Warrick Dunn was also up to something. He was traveling to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq with New England Patriots linebacker Larry Izzo on a week-long USO Tour in March. He helped dedicate a new USO building, the Pat Tillman Center, at Bagram Airbase near Kabul, Afghanistan.
Two months later, he joined teammate Keith Brooking, Baltimore tight end Todd Heap and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on a four-day visit to Germany for members of the United States Armed Forces in May of 2004.
Dunn's nationally renowned community project, "Homes for the Holidays," is now part of Atlanta's charitable culture. It continues to help low-income families in Atlanta, Tampa, and Baton Rouge, La., buy homes through a down-payment provided by Dunn. He also worked with area sponsors to furnish and outfit the homes. Since launching the program in 1997, Dunn has enabled 45 single mothers to realize their lifelong dreams.
Warrick says his motivation for the program is his late mother, Betty Smothers. She was a Baton Rouge police officer and single parent who was killed during a robbery in 1993 while working a second job as a security officer. She died before her dream of buying her own home was achieved.
"I hope I'm living right for her," Dunn says on the Falcons' website.
He's doing more than living right. He's living proof that black superstars' success need not lead to foolishness. If any player deserves to be in the NFL Hall of Fame for off-field dedication, it is Dunn.