Warrick Dunn is a borderline Pro Football Hall of Fame caliber player. He split his NFL career evenly between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1997-01, 2008) and the Falcons (2002-07). While he made two of his three Pro Bowl appearances in Buccaneers pewter, Dunn was arguably a better player during his six years with the Falcons in the 2000s.
Dunn was the No. 12 overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 1997 NFL Draft. He won a national championship as a freshman with the 1993 Florida State Seminoles. Dunn made his first Pro Bowl as a rookie in 1997, as he also won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award that fall.
Tampa Bay would be team on the rise under head coach Tony Dungy during Dunn’s time with the Buccaneers. However, they were an extremely defensive-minded team that struggled mightily on offense, especially in the passing game. Dungy would be fired after the 2001 NFL season. Dunn would leave for a new divisional foe in the wake of 2002’s NFL realignment with the Falcons.
While Tampa Bay won Super Bowl XXXVII in Dunn’s first year with the Falcons, he became synonymous with the most exciting quarterback of the early 21st century in Michael Vick. Along with running back T.J. Duckett, the DVD offense made Atlanta playoff-caliber for much of the early to mid-2000s.
Dunn rushed for over 1,000 yards three times in Falcons uniform, including a 1,416-yard campaign in 2005. That would be his third and final career trip to the Pro Bowl, his only one as a Falcon. While Atlanta only made the NFC playoffs twice during his six years with the team (2002, 2004), Dunn was a fan favorite and a well-respected man in the Atlanta community.
In 2004, Dunn was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year. To date, he is the only Falcon to have earned this lofty honor. His Home for the Holiday program helps single-parent families achieve homeownership for the first time. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, one of the houses he helped built was the childhood home of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in Gainesville, Georgia.
By being an elite player on the field and an even better man off it, Dunn became the most recent inductee into the Falcons Ring of Honor in 2017. In six years with the Falcons, Dunn had 5,981 rushing yards on 1,413 attempts and 30 touchdowns. As a receiver, he had 204 catches for 1,635 yards and six touchdown receptions.
In 12 NFL seasons, Dunn had over 10,000 rushing yards, 15,000 all-purpose yards and nearly 70 combined touchdowns. His play on the field has him as a Hall of Very Good lock, but perhaps his off-the-field work will help push him into Canton one day?