The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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August 10, 2001 Issue
Local News

Payback time: Packer helps as he was helped

Defensive tackle Santana Dotson said he appreciates help he received

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

Charities game

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 co-stars.

"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 future."

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 scheme.

"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 it's over."

"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 career.

"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."

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