With this year’s NFL draft in the books, and the start of the next NFL season just a few months away, this month’s sports Q&A shares highlights from two interviews with Warrick Dunn and Danny Woodhead. Dunn, now retired from football, is a former NFL offensive rookie of the year and three-time Pro Bowl player. During his college years and 12-year career with Tampa Bay and Atlanta, Dunn made an impact on and off the field. He’s persevered through tragedy and continues to change lives through Warrick Dunn Charities. Former Patriot, and now a San Diego Charger, Danny Woodhead also is a strong believer in using his football success to influence and help others. This undrafted free agent overcame the odds and is entering his seventh season in the NFL. As a tough and multi-talented running back, receiver, and explosive special teams returner, he played in Super Bowl XLVI two years ago with the Patriots. Here are excerpts from two separate interviews with Dunn and Woodhead.
Q: Warrick, during your football career you seemed to have a strong desire to serve others. Why?
Warrick: When I was 18 years old I lost my mom. She was shot and killed in the line of duty. She was a Baton Rouge City police officer. … Then I was fortunate enough to get drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers [and I met] coach Tony Dungy. What a great guy, and just overall a great human being. … I was challenged to give back and do more … and [give] back to the community. … In doing that all I could think about was my mom and her dream of home ownership. … So I started a program. It’s called Homes for the Holidays … assisting parents into becoming first-time homeowners, giving them [a] money-down payment and … including food, furniture, linens, garden tools, etc. … We have been doing it now for 15 years … [in] Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Tallahassee, Dallas, Texas, and Baltimore and in many places … in Louisiana.
Warrick Dunn, seen here interviewing with Roman Gabriel, uses his experience with losing his mom to help children grieve for their parents.
Q: How are you helping those who have lost loved ones?
Warrick: [We started] a new program for kids for bereavement … called Betty’s Hope. We’re doing group sessions with kids from ages 5 to 18 … here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana … helping other people who went through something similar that I went through, that my mom went through … helping kids handle grief and giving them tools to manage it. I think it’s critically important, and I just love the fact that I have a platform … to help people live better.
Q: Danny, tell us how you have made the most of your NFL opportunity being from a small college?
Danny: I tried to always be ready for any opportunity.
That’s what the NFL is all about … taking your opportunity, and using it to the best of your abilities. … I feel so blessed to be a part of the NFL … and just the opportunity to play the game that I love. … I think that’s something you think about after the season. … You look back and say ‘I get to play a game that I love as my job!’ … It’s unbelievable.”
Q: You said the word “blessed.” How has your faith played a role in the locker room with the Patriots?
Danny Woodhead is entering his seventh season of playing football this year. Woodhead formerly played for the Patriots. This year he will play for the San Diego Chargers.
Danny: We have a good group of core guys. We do Bible study during the week. … And on the night before the game, you obviously have chapel. … With what happens in this league it [can] be a tough business … if you’ve ever been cut before, which I have … in my case. Without God I don’t think it’s feasible to get through an NFL career. … Number one in my life is my relationship with Christ, because without that I would not be where I am today. I owe everything to Him and of course I have a close family.
Q: What would you tell students about overcoming challenges and making the most of their lives?
Warrick: I think kids need to realize that when you have an opportunity you have to take advantage of it. … Don’t just try one thing, but a lot of different things. Find out what you’re passionate about, what you really enjoy doing, what you wake up everyday and enjoy doing. You have to have that mentality.
Danny: Number one, I’d tell them when you have no hope it comes from a void in your heart. … The only thing that can fill that void is Jesus Christ. And that’s something that I felt before football. … Without him I don’t think much is possible. … Obviously through Him all things are possible. … Lean on your relationship with Christ, and if you don’t have one, get one. … That’s the most important thing.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Roman Gabriel III hosts Sold Out Sports Saturday nights at 8 p.m. EST on American Family Radio. He is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Contact him at (910) 431-6483 or email [email protected]. His website is www.soldouttv.com. View all Gabriel’s Q&A’s here.)