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Leaving a Void on Former Team Never Hurts

September 20, 2003|Sam Farmer

Sam Farmer, pro football specialist for The Times, is spending some of his time this season swapping e-mail with NFL personnel. This week, Farmer was online with Atlanta running back Warrick Dunn, who on Sunday faces his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Farmer: In light of the sellouts and the sudden popularity of the Falcons, does the team finally have a home-field advantage at the Georgia Dome?

Dunn: Without doubt. Our fans have been great. They were real loud this past week when we played Washington. The Redskins were backed up deep in our end and kept jumping offsides.

I remember when I was with the Bucs, we would come here and have more fans than the Falcons. It does make a difference when you feel like the crowd embraces you.

Farmer: Any coincidence that you leave Tampa Bay and now the Buccaneers can't get their running game going?

Dunn: Maybe. When you do leave you hope that they miss you. If not then you must not have been a big factor. I like the guys I played with and still talk to them, but, yes, I would hope they miss me when I am gone. That means they recognize the job that I did.

Farmer: Warren Sapp has played tight end, Charles Woodson has played receiver, Deion Sanders did all kinds of things. Who is a defensive player you'd like to see play offense?

Dunn: Ronde Barber was doing some things at wide receiver. He is a great athlete, has a great work ethic and could do it no doubt.

Farmer: Can you name a player who thinks he can play both ways but needs to think again?

Dunn: Our punter Chris Mohr throws passes in practice all the time. He went to Alabama as a quarterback before he turned into a full-time punter. But I would never be able to understand his cadences with his Southern drawl. So he better just stick to punting.

Farmer: Terry McDaniel, the former Pro Bowl cornerback for the Raiders, used to drive a 10-year-old Honda. Who's the most frugal NFL player you know?

Dunn: I am cheap. I drive a nice car, but believe me I do not like to spend my money. Outside of me, I would say Patrick Kerney. He still drives a station wagon that I think he got when he was in high school.

Farmer: What's the strangest piece of fan mail you've gotten?

Dunn: A form of a women's clothing. That is all I can say about that.

Farmer: Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett wants to make himself eligible for next spring's NFL draft despite playing just one season of college ball and missing three of those games because of various injuries. What would be the biggest eye-opener for him at this level?

Dunn: It is the speed and pace of the game. The length of the schedule and the demands on your body too. Ask Mike Vick. He went through all of last season and needed time off when the season was over. Six more games and six more weeks of grinding it out take a toll on the body.

Farmer: College football is a great farm system for the NFL -- not to mention a free one. How do you think the quality of play in the NFL would be affected if the most talented college players started bolting for the big time without the seasoning college football offers?

Dunn: They already have that 20-hour rule [governing time spent on athletics], which cuts down on learning [the game]. Old-school coaches talk about the day when you could work as much as you want. But by the same token, guys are stronger and are in better shape now than ever before. In the pros, we can't hit as much as they used to because guys are just too big. I think it is happening in college too. People just know more about strength and conditioning even at the high school level.

Farmer: A lot of NFL personnel types say good, textbook tacklers are a dying breed. Who are the three best tacklers you've faced?

Dunn: The whole Buccaneers defense. Those guys just fly to the ball. Keith Brooking on our team is a lot like those guys. I don't know if I can remember the hardest hit I took though. I try not to remember the hits.

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