RB Warrick Dunn accepts the 2009 Bart Starr Award from the award's namesake on Saturday morning
Bart Starr was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowls I and II, but it his lifelong commitment to serving as a positive role model to his family, teammates and community that keeps him a part of Super Bowl Weekend some 40 years later.
Each year, on the Saturday morning before the Super Bowl, Athletes in Action hands out the Bart Starr Award to one NFL player who has shown exemplary character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. This year's winner is Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Warrick Dunn.
Dunn certainly upholds the legacy established by Starr. The 2004 winner of the NFL's prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, Dunn has made an enormous impact both on and off the gridiron during his 12-year professional career. Just days ago, he helped a Bay area single parent become a homeowner through his Homes for the Holidays program; incredibly, that was the 84th family he has assisted in this manner since 1997.
Dunn was one of three finalists for the 2009 Bart Starr Award, and any one would have been a worthy choice. Joining Dunn as finalists was Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Brees was the 2006 co-winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and Warner has long been known for his commitment to charitable endeavors.
Dunn was this year's selection, however. In addition to the Homes for the Holidays program, Dunn has established a foundation that bears his name and he tirelessly helps those less fortunate through such programs as Athletes for Hope and the Boy Scouts. A native of Baton Route, he has also contributed heavily to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
Dunn was announced as this year's Bart Starr Award winner at the 22nd annual NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl Breakfast, which was hosted by Athletes in Action and held at the USF Sun Dome on Saturday morning. The 2009 breakfast program featured a large group of NFL athletes and coaches, including former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy, NFL Hall of Famers Bart Starr and Anthony Munoz, Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks and former San Francisco 49er Brent Jones, who served as the emcee.
The recipient of the Bart Starr Award is determined by NFL player balloting at the end of the regular season, making the award one of only two individual honors selected by the players. Past winners of the award include LaDainian Tomlinson, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Reggie White, Mike Singletary, Cris Carter, Aeneas Williams and Curtis Martin.