January 30, 2008 - by
Former Seminole Warrick Dunn Selected As The Inaugural Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP

Jan. 30, 2008



Florida State University alumnus Warrick Dunn was always an MVP on the football field when he played for the Seminoles in the mid-1990s. Now, Dunn’s FSU friends and fans have helped him earn MVP honors for his work off the field.


Buoyed by a massive show of support from his FSU brethren, the former Seminoles football star and current Atlanta Falcons running back has been overwhelmingly selected as the inaugural recipient of The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP award. The competition recognizes NFL players who are making a positive impact in their local communities through charitable programs and contributions.


“It’s a great privilege to be honored for my accomplishments off the field and to be recognized among so many great athletes and humanitarians,” Dunn said. “Community service has always been the cornerstone of who I am, and I can’t stress enough the value that giving back adds to your own life and how it truly enriches others.”


The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP award was announced Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Phoenix as part of Super Bowl Week festivities.


Dunn was honored for the community work he does through the Warrick Dunn Foundation. Most notably, his “Homes for the Holidays” program assists single parents in Tallahassee and Tampa, Fla., Baton Rouge, La., and Atlanta in achieving the American dream of home ownership. Since 1997, Dunn has helped 74 single parents and 192 children and dependents achieve first-time home ownership.


Most recently, in December 2007, the Warrick Dunn Foundation assisted its first single father — Osei Nyahuma, 50, of Tallahassee, an FSU employee and father of four who was able to settle his family into their brand-new home just in time for the holidays.


“I can’t remember the last time I sat on a new couch,” an emotional Nyahuma said while touring his family’s new home on Dec. 18. “This is truly a blessing.”


“All of us at Florida State have long known what a generous and caring individual Warrick is,” said Lee Hinkle, FSU’s vice president for University Relations. “Now the rest of the world gets to see this as well. He is a champion in our eyes, he is a champion to the families he has helped through the years, and we are so very proud to call him a Seminole.”


Dunn was chosen for The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP award through a national consumer voting contest and a blue-ribbon panel of judges. Balloting was held online during the month of December. He was one of 17 NFL players honored through the program this year. As the winner of the competition, Dunn will receive a $25,000 donation to the Warrick Dunn Foundation to enable him to assist still more families.


“Homes for the Holidays” was established by the Warrick Dunn Foundation in 1997 as a way to honor the life of Dunn’s mother, Betty Smothers, a police officer and security guard, who was killed during a robbery attempt while working as an off-duty police officer in Baton Rouge. Title sponsor Prudential Tropical Realty and in-kind sponsor Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership contribute to furnishing and equipping each home. For more information, visit www.warrickdunnfoundation.org.


The other players honored in The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP program are Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders; Gary Brackett, Indianapolis Colts; Isaac Bruce, St. Louis Rams; Daryn Colledge, Green Bay Packers; Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia Eagles; Lee Evans, Buffalo Bills; John Lynch, Denver Broncos; Rashean Mathis, Jacksonville Jaguars; Kevin Mawae, Tennessee Titans; Kassim Osgood, San Diego Chargers; Antwaan Randle El, Washington Redskins; Jason Taylor, Miami Dolphins; Marcus Trufant, Seattle Seahawks; Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers; Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals; and Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys.


The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP award isn’t the first recognition Dunn has received for his humanitarian efforts. In 2004, he was awarded the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, named after the legendary Chicago bears Hall of Fame running back who died in 1999. The Man of the Year award is the highest honor bestowed on an NFL player for outstanding community service and on-field performance.


Dunn’s four-year career (1993-1997) at FSU established him as one of the most popular players in all of college football and the finest running back in the 60-year history of Florida State football. Dunn is the only Seminole ever to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. He also holds the all-time rushing record at FSU with 3,959 yards.


“People often ask me what comes to mind when I think of Warrick Dunn,” said FSU football head coach Bobby Bowden. “He might not like this, but the word that comes to mind when I think of Warrick is `lovable.’ He’s a lovable guy. Warrick is quiet and unassuming and doesn’t seek out recognition, but people are drawn to him because he has such a good heart. He sets a great example for all of us of the importance of helping others and in doing so with humility.”


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