Warrick Dunn Still Changing Lives & The World

There are plenty of athletes who make a mark during – or after – their careers with their charitable efforts and their push towards social justice. Charities and foundations are obviously always a good thing, but many of these organizations are related to the athlete by name only.

Then there is Warrick Dunn. A premier player who singlehandedly makes every other past, present, or future NFLer look inadequate with everything he has done. Not just as an athlete – though Dunn was a legitimate star back when running back wasn’t the plug and play position it is today – but as a man.

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Dunn played his college football very successfully at Florida State. He rushed for over 1,000 yards for three straight seasons – an impressive mark considering that at about 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds Dunn seemed too small to be an every down back even at the college level. The three-time All-ACC selection was also a sprinter at FSU and his 10.3 time in the 100 meter dash transferred to breakaway speed on the football field that some speedsters are not able to produce.

Dunn was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 12th overall pick of the 1997 NFL Draft. He was an immediate success, with this premier player winning rookie of the year honors after picking up over 1,400 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns. Dunn spent his first five years in Tampa Bay – picking up a pair of Pro Bowl nods – before spending six years in Atlanta with the Falcons. His final year in the NFL (2008) was back where it all began as Dunn signed a one year deal with the Bucs where he rushed for a solid 786 yards.

Dunn rushed for almost 11,000 yards during his career and had picked up over 15,000 yards from scrimmage. He scored 64 touchdowns and he is a much loved figure in both Tampa and Atlanta because of the energy, excitement, and skill that he brought to the two franchises as a player. He was also a player loved by his peers and the media, something that is not always said about the great athletes who tend to be solely focused on winning.

Dunn wanted to win as much as anyone, but he also knew from an early point in his career that he could use his position for good. Something he has never stopped doing.

Dunn’s own mother was an off-duty police officer who was ambushed and killed by armed robbers in 1993. This meant that having just turned 18-years-old, Dunn was now in charge of raising his siblings. This life event could have pushed Dunn in a number of directions, but the premier player knew the value of hard work and success – as his mother had instilled in him – and he wanted to give back.

His first step into the charitable arena was starting Homes for the Holidays in 1997. Dunn then upped his own game in 2002 when he started Warrick Dunn Charities as a way to increase the services that his programs could provide. As of 2020, Dunn’s charities – along with Habitat for Humanity – are closing in on having donated 200 homes to single mothers.

“I’ve used this program as therapy,” Dunn said. “Every time I hand over those keys, there’s a little piece of my mom and the things she wanted.”

The 2004 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner, Dunn has received many awards from outside football for his work. He was named the Muhammad Ali Award winner in 2019 – formerly Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award – showing that long after his football career ended he is still a force driving good in the world.

Wanting to be a person that changes the world is one thing. Actually doing it – and continuing to do it – for almost 25 years is something else entirely. Warrick Dunn is a player that every sports fan should know and celebrate because men of his caliber, premier players of his caliber, don’t come around very often.

Article by Premier Players

Boxing Brings Heaviest Event To The Ring In 2021

Live sport may still be something of a novelty right now but that hasn’t stopped yet another event being added to a crowded 2021 slate. While we are busy getting our fill of Korean League Baseball, Bundesliga soccer, and NASCAR races with no one in the stands, next year is the one where the premier players will really come out to play. In 2021 we will see – alongside the return of full seasons of the leagues we love – the Olympic Games, the UEFA European Soccer Championships, and the British Lions tour of South Africa to name but a few.

Oh. We will also see a boxing match that is being billed as the ‘Heaviest’ boxing match of all time.

It will be September of next year in Las Vegas, Nevada – the home of all things weird and wonderful – when a pair of former winners of the World’s Strongest Man competition will be throwing haymakers. The participants are 2018 World’s Strongest Man Hafthor Bjornsson taking on 2017 World’s Strongest Man winner Eddie Hall in a bout where the two pugilists will combine to weigh in – barring some weird diets leading up to the contest – at well north of 800 pounds.

Hall, the smaller of the two, stands at 6’3” and weighs 410 pounds. Bjornsson, a mountain of a man, stands at 6’9” and tips the scales in the region of 450 pounds. That mountain moniker is not one without merit either as this premier player was cast as Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane in the epic fantasy series Game of Thrones.

If this contest feels like it came out of nowhere, well that is because it did. It was all triggered in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis when Bjornsson set a new deadlift record by lifting 1,104 pounds in his home gym. Yes. That was 1,104 pounds – not a typo.

“Absolutely no legitimate sport would acknowledge World Records broken out of competition and you are undermining the very sport you are claiming to champion,” Hall wrote on Instagram. “I genuinely look forward to having my record broken and seeing what is possible. I think you are probably the man to do it, there’s no denying that and I’ll still shake your hand afterwards and say well done . . . if you do it under the appropriate conditions.”

This broke a 4-year-old record of 1,102 pounds that was set by Hall. The fact that the record breaker was set in a home gym angered “The Beast” and one quick war of words on Instagram, wheels were set in motion for a match to be announced.

 Bjornsson confirmed as such by revealing the fight poster with the following message on his own Instagram account earlier this week.

“It’s official! September 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada, the Mountain vs the Beast. The next year and a half of my career will be solely dedicated towards this fight. I can’t wait to have my family ringside as I throw down. I’m coming for you.”

The training part of this fight is going to be fascinating. There is no doubt that Bjornsson and Hall are both elite athletes that deserve the premier players tab. It is not possible to compete in strongmen competitions as they do without the right knowledge of nutrition, exercise science, and a personal determination to be the best athlete that they can possibly be.

Training for a boxing match, however, is slightly different. Strongman training is very much an individual pursuit where it is all about bettering yourself. Boxing is a much more tactical sport, one that requires learning a different skillset than anything they will have applied in previous build ups to peak condition. Both men will have the power to slug it out, but it might just be the one who learns a little more ring craft over the next 18 months that comes out on top in what will be a huge event next fall.

Article by Premier Players

NFL Player Works To Frontline of Covid-19 Pandemic

We have covered the life and career of Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on this blog before. One of the most well-educated premier players in the history of the NFL, Duvernay-Tardif has a doctorate in medicine degree. When he first achieved this, Duvernay-Tardif was looking at a career post-football that would both support him and his family, but also be something that he could do in the community to help save lives.

Then the Coronavirus came along and Duvernay-Tardif found his calling into the medical profession far sooner than he ever could have imagined.

The Chiefs’ starting right guard is just three months removed from winning Super Bowl LIV on February 2, 2020. To say that feels like a lifetime ago at this point is something of an understatement. Most players get to celebrate winning a championship trophy with an offseason filled with parties, appearances, and get-togethers. While none of the Chiefs have been able to do this due to the virus, Duvernay-Tardif took a very different path – as is his nature – when the Coronavirus struck in his home province of Montreal.

After returning home from a vacation in the Caribbean into an immediate 14-day quarantine, Duvernay-Tardif wanted to help. With the Canadian border closed – meaning he was unable to return to Kansas City – Duvernay-Tardif reached out to the health authority to see how he could help. His degree is currently in a grey area – he hasn’t completed residencies and has no specialization – so his options were a limited as to how this premier player could best be used in the crisis in Canada.

Originally, this premier player was told that his best role in the fight would be to use his position as a celebrity to help spread the message about the importance of social distancing. As the crisis grew, however, he started using his contacts to find a place working on the frontlines in Quebec at a long term healthcare facility in South Shore. His first day back at the hospital was the day after the 2020 NFL Draft where Duvernay-Tardif found he would be blocking for a new running back next year in Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

This is what the premier player had to say about his first day back:

“I felt nervous the night before, but a good nervous, like before a game, and I packed everything neatly: scrubs, white coat, extra pens, even a second pair of shoes that I could leave in my locker, knowing they were clean,” he wrote.

“My shift started at 7:30 a.m. I found out that I would be working for now in more of a nursing role, helping relieve the workers who have already been in place.”

The first day back on the job was draining according to Duvernay-Tardif, but he was already looking forward to getting back into the rhythm of things knowing that he can make a difference to the care of others while using his position in the world of sports to speak about the virus knowing that people will listen.

This likely makes the McGill grad the first NFL player in history to be fighting a pandemic in such a prominent role while also fully expecting to be back on a football field as soon as it is medically safe to do so.

There are a lot of premier players out there doing great things in the world right now. Some of them are working to raise money for various charities, while others are getting even more active by helping out the health services. Duvernay-Tardif is one of them and his is a name that deserves to be recognized.

Article by Premier Players

Frank Gore Continues NFL Success With Jets

Running backs are supposed to be winding down their career when they hit the age of 30. The list of backs who peaked before hitting three decades of life and either retired or saw their production fall off to the point they were soon out of the NFL includes Hall of Famers such as O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, and Marshall Faulk. These are the premier players of premier players, but age caught up to them quickly at one of the most brutal positions in the league.

Someone should probably tell Frank Gore about this because the soon-to-be 37-year-old running back just signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets that will see him embark on his 16th season in the NFL this fall. It is a remarkable achievement.

It needs to be noted, at this point, the game is different now. Gore has been able to survive in the league for as long as he has as a situational back – albeit a very effective one – to change the pace and spell of starters on his teams. This wasn’t a role that existed when the likes of Campbell or Dickerson played. In those days, you ran your bell cow of a back until he was washed up and then brought in the next toy on the production line. Times have definitely changed.

Gore – who was a Round 3 pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2005 – is currently the third leading rusher in NFL history behind only Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. This is likely where he will stay as he is currently around 1,400 yards shy of Payton and he hasn’t had a 1,000 rushing season since 2016 in Indianapolis. Le’Veon Bell is the primary back in New York, but Gore will give head coach Adam Gase – a coach he has worked with before – a solid second option on the ground when he is needed.

The last full-time running back to play in the league at 37 was Marcus Allen of the Kansas City Chiefs back in 1997. Gore will bring immense amounts of experience, leadership, and professionalism to the Jets this season, meaning he may be just as valuable to the team in the running backs room as on the field. Anyone that can play to his age is clearly a premier player when it comes to conditioning and doing the right things to be pro football shape. Gore can pass this knowledge on to the next generation in New York.

Speaking of the next generation, Gore’s son – Frank Gore Jr. – will be starting his career collegiately this season at Southern Mississippi. With Gore’s ability to stick around, who is to say the father and son couldn’t be in the NFL together in a few years’ time.

Article By Premier Players