Atlanta Falcons: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Warrick Dunn, Atlanta Falcons
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

. RB. (2002-07). Warrick Dunn. 18. player. 44

  • Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor (2017)
  • Walter Payton Man of the Year (2004)
  • 1x Pro Bowl w/Falcons (2005)
  • Rushed for over 1,000 yards in three straight seasons w/Falcons (2003-05)

Though his 12-year NFL career was split with the NFC South rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers, running back Warrick Dunn probably best embodies the high-character integrity owner Arthur Blank was looking for in his players when he bought the team in 2002.

Interestingly, that would be Dunn’s first year with the Dirty Birds. He spent his first five NFL seasons out of Florida State with the Buccaneers. Dunn was the No. 12 overall draft pick by the Buccaneers in 1997, won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and made two Pro Bowls while with Tampa Bay.

Though he came to Atlanta in the same season that the Buccaneers won their only Super Bowl to date, Dunn was instrumental in culture change in the Falcons organization. He was the team’s No. 1 running back for six seasons. He rushed for over 1,000 yards three years in a row with the Falcons from 2003 to 2005, earning his third and final trip to the Pro Bowl of his career in 2005.

Dunn was the first D in DVD (Dunn/Vick/Duckett) of the Falcons’ three-headed monster attack of that era. Atlanta made the NFC playoffs twice in his six years with the team. Dunn amassed 5,913 yards on 1,413 carries for 30 touchdowns in his Falcons career. As a receiver, had an additional 204 receptions for 1,635 yards and six touchdowns with the Dirty Birds.

Combining his Falcons numbers with his Buccaneers accomplishments, maybe one day Dunn earns Canton enshrinement? He does have over 10,000 career rushing yards, but only three Pro Bowls to his name. But that’s not the half of the man who is Warrick Dunn.

Dunn won the 2004 Walter Payton Man of the Year. He is the only Falcon to have earned that lofty honor. During his playing career, it was known how philanthropic he was. His mother, a Baton Rouge police officer, was murdered while off duty two days after his 18th birthday in 1993. He would be the head of his household beginning in his freshman year in Florida State.

Dunn established two charities, Home for the Holidays and Warrick Dunn Charities during his playing career. His initiative in Habitat for Humanity as a part of Home for the Holidays paved the way for future Houston Texans starting quarterback Deshaun Watson to have a nice place to live growing up in Gainesville, Georgia.

Overall, Dunn was a good, if not great, running back for two NFC South franchises. His Canton candidacy remains in the balances. However, nobody can question his work as a humanitarian. It was a no-brainer decision for Blank to make Dunn the most recent addition to the Falcons Ring of Honor in 2017.