Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn, emotionally distraught over the effect of Hurricane Katrina on his native Louisiana, issued an appeal late Thursday afternoon to all NFL players to contribute to hurricane relief efforts.
In an interview from the Falcons' team bus on their way to play the Dolphins tonight, Dunn told SI.com: "I'm challenging guys on every NFL team, except the Saints, to donate at least $5,000 to help people come back from this catastrophe. If we get players to do that, that would amount to $260,000 per team. I have heard from so many players both on my team and around the league who just want to do something. Well, this is the best thing that we can do and it's something we should do."
If Dunn is successful in getting 53 players on the 31 NFL teams to respond with the $5,000 donation, NFL players would be able to give $8.2 million to the relief effort.
Dunn is from Baton Rouge, La. He said he still does not know if his grandfather, who lived in New Orleans, "is dead, alive, at the Superdome, or on a bus somewhere." He also said his grandmother is housing 40 extended family members in one house in Baton Rouge.
The reigning NFL Man of the Year said he thinks players have a moral obligation to help the people of the Gulf Coast. "If guys don't donate," Dunn said, "they're being selfish.
"We're such a great country and it's at times like this a great country has to come together. We're looking at people on TV who have no money, no homes, no job and no idea what they're going to do with their lives. Now is when they need us most. We just have to respond and we have to respond."
Dunn will be working with the Arthur Blank family charitable foundation to organize his effort. He said whatever money is collected will be pooled and he hoped the NFL player representatives would vote on exactly what agencies would get the money. He said he already had commitments from Falcons teammates of at least the $260,000 team goal.