Payback time: Packer helps as he was helped
Defensive tackle Santana Dotson said he appreciates help he received
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
What: The 41st annual Bishop's Charities Game.
When: 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 20
Who: Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos
Where: Lambeau Field
Details: The Bishop's Charities Game has raised close to $3
million for Green Bay diocesan charities. Vince Lombardi and Bp.
Stanislaus Bona started the event in 1961. Prior to the game, Bp.
Robert Banks will present the 2000 Outstanding Player awards to
wide receiver Bill Schroeder and cornerback Mike McKenzie for
their performances in last year's Bishop's Charities Game victory
over the Cleveland Browns.
Does being in a room for ten hours surrounded by 25 children, ages three to nine-years-old, sound like fun?
Packer defensive tackle Santana Dotson loved it.
Last season, Dotson appeared in one of the National Football
League's United Way television commercials, towering over his
"I admit that I did look forward to the lunch break, but we had a
good time," he said. "I wish people could have seen the outtakes.
They were fun. We were playing games and horsing around."
For Dotson, a Catholic, helping young people is an expression of
his faith and a way to repay the people who were positive
influences during his childhood.
"I try to help kids who are less fortunate," he said. "I
appreciate all that has been given to me. I try to help kids more
than just monetarily. It's important to spend time with them. A
professional athlete can have a great impact on a child's
Dotson has been involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He also
oversees the Santana Dotson Foundation in Houston, his hometown,
which among its contributions, gives scholarships to inner city
kids who otherwise could not go to college. Other charitable
endeavors include providing Thanksgiving dinners to the needy and
sponsoring a Christmas toy drive.
"The Little League coaches, teachers and people who helped me
along the way left such a lasting impression," said Dotson. "I
just want to give something back."
Among his role models was Sarah Gibbs, his former high school
math teacher who was honored as the 1997 NFL Teacher of the Year.
Dotson nominated her for the award.
"Math was my favorite subject until I got to geometry," said
Dotson. "She was a tough teacher. I tell kids 'You will remember
the teacher who was hard on you, but still cared, as opposed to
the teacher who gave you the easiest route.' "
On the field, Dotson continues rehabilitation after suffering a
partially torn quadriceps muscle above the patellar tendon in his
right leg against the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 27. His goal is
to be ready for the season opener.
"I feel as good as ever, even coming off the injury," he said.
"I'm looking forward to picking up where I left off last season
and, when they turn me loose, I plan to take it a step further."
Much has changed since Dotson joined the Packers as a free agent
in 1996, including the players around him and the defensive
"My first two years (in Green Bay) were the most fun I have ever
had playing the defensive tackle position," he said. "Not just
because of being surrounded by the talents and wisdom of Reggie
White and Sean Jones, but because you could see the fear and
apprehension in the eyes of the offensive linemen. The defensive
lines we had in '96 and '97 were very hard to contend with."
"We are striving to get back to that level now," he continued.
"We want to have a good six or seven-man rotation of quality
defensive linemen. I really enjoy our scheme and what Ed
(Donatell, defensive coordinator) has brought to the team. What
he asks of my position is to be hard working. As long as you are
working hard, you are going to make your share of plays."
This season marks Dotson's 10th NFL campaign. He said he
appreciates being a Green Bay Packer more than ever.
"This year, everyone has been calling me the old man in the
locker room and asking me how long I am going to play," he said.
"I have really enjoyed my career and I am going to ride it until
"People love football because it exemplifies life in its barest
essence," he added. "You win or you lose. You fight together as a
team. That's what you do in a sense in all walks of life."
Dotson, who is married and the father of a son and two daughters,
said his injury and the recent death of Viking offensive tackle
Korey Springer have caused him to reflect even more on his
"Sometimes you take your job so seriously that you forget to
enjoy the day-to-day events," he said. "I really want to focus on
enjoying myself, enjoying my teammates, playing hard, winning and
grasping everything around me. You don't know when it will be
your last snap."
Dotson will also continue to focus on helping young people.
"When talking to kids, I will always tell them that I am not a
perfect person by any means, but what is important is to strive
for perfection," he said. "As long as you are striving for
perfection, then you are always doing your best. That's all you
can ask of yourself in whatever you do."