10 years ago today, on March 15th, 2002. Warrick Dunn realized that pewter is worn by awful people, and signed with the Falcons. At the time, it seemed like a positive, yet hopeful signing. Warrick Dunn carried the misconception of being a 3rd down, or change-of-pace, back his entire career. In his time in Atlanta, Falcons fans learned that wasn’t true, and fell in love with the diminuitive back with a heart of gold.
It didn’t start that way, though, as the signing of Dunn looked like a head-scratcher to Falcons fans once the team spent a 1st Round pick on bruising tailback T.J. Duckett from Michigan St. As it turned out, Dunn became the far more reliable, more consistent back of the two. Today, the idea of having 2 backs you can rely on is the norm in the NFL – but in 2002, you had one guy, and that was who got 95% of your carries. Even though he was giving up 4 inches and 70 pounds to Duckett, that became Dunn more often than not.
Over 6 season in Atlanta, Warrick Dunn would rise all the way to 3rd on the Falcons all-time rushing yards list – falling only 5 yards short of overtaking William Andrews for 2nd. His name is all over the Falcons record books for career Rushing TDs (5th), total number of 1,000 yard seasons (2nd), and consecutive 1,000 yards seasons (also 2nd). He also remains the man with the longest run in Falcons history with his 90 yard touchdown jaunt vs. the Giants in 2006. Since these are the Falcons, though, they did manage to lose that game, 27-14.
That TD run also placed him in rare company. Combined with his 86 yard TD reception vs. Tennessee in 2003, he became one of only 5 NFL players ever with both a rushing and receiving TD of over 85 yards, joining Tony Dorsett, Bobby Mitchell, Keith Lincoln, and Tiki Barber.
Not only did he bring his considerable talents to the field, but Warrick Dunn became an irreplaceable member of the Atlanta community with his “Homes For The Holidays” program. Warrick Dunn Charities maintains its headquarters in Atlanta to this day.
Warrick even maintains his presence with the Falcons as a minority partner in the franchise. When you consider the indifference many greeted his signing with 10 years ago, it is pretty amazing that Warrick Dunn became one of the few Falcons you would be hard-pressed to hear any fan utter a negative word about.