NFC South: Andrew Young

Warrick DunnTodd Kirkland/Icon SMIWarrick Dunn is hoping to transfer his success on the field to the business world.
If you have ever been to an Atlanta Falcons practice, you know that team owner Arthur Blank has a strong presence.

He's out there on the sideline, mostly observing, but sometimes chatting with his players. It all looks very casual, but it was out there on the practice field a few years back that the seeds were planted for a very big business deal.

"I used to make little comments to Mr. Blank and [team president and former general manager] Rich McKay about how I wanted to someday be an owner," former Atlanta running back Warrick Dunn said.

What might have seemed like a joke at the time wasn't. Dunn was very serious about his desire to own an NFL team and Blank was listening. Now, it has all happened.

Dunn recently completed a deal to become a limited partner with Blank. He'll join six other limited partners and Blank and help run the Falcons. He'll also serve on the Atlanta Falcons Board of Advisors, which includes heavy hitters like Hank Aaron and Ambassador Andrew Young.

It might sound like a nice token gesture for one of the best players in franchise history and a guy who has been known for his charitable and community work throughout his career. But it's much more than that.

Dunn is taking his new role very seriously. If you know anything about Dunn, that's no surprise. He's very serious about anything he does.

"The deal really just became official, but I've already been studying up," Dunn said. "We've got a meeting of the partners later this month and that will be my first real test and I'm trying to get ready for it. But I really feel like I'm blind in a sense because I don't really know the business end."

That may be true, but it's going to change quickly. Keep in mind, Dunn spent his entire playing career with the Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers constantly followed by the question, "Can he do it every down?" because he was 5-foot-9 and about 185 pounds.

Three Pro Bowls and almost 11,000 rushing yards later, Dunn had emphatically answered that question by the time he stopped playing after the 2008 season. Now comes the next question: Can he succeed as an owner?

Don't be against it. The terms of Dunn's investment in the Falcons haven't been revealed, and Blank controls 90 percent of the team. But Dunn made a lot of money as a player and was known by teammates for being a bit frugal.

(Read full post)