TAMPA — Today, the glory will be gained on the field. But on Saturday, the accolades were for athletes' actions outside the stadium.
A star-studded lineup of past and present players spoke about the sport, God and community service to a crowd of about 7,000 at the Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast at the sold-out Sun Dome.
And although it was held to honor football players for their community service, for a while, it seemed like it was all about Tony Dungy.
As the finely dressed attendees on the dome's floor finished their bacon, eggs and coffee, six of Dungy's friends and former players took turns speaking highly of the former Bucs coach who recently stepped down as coach of the Colts. The crowd stood and cheered when Dungy took the microphone.
He said he's excited to be back in Tampa and plans to spend his retirement helping young people.
"There's a lot of kids … that have great potential, that just need direction in life," he said.
Further fueling the Bucs fans' passions, the prestigious Bart Starr Award, which honors one player each year for his community service, went to Bucs running back Warrick Dunn. He was lauded for his work with the Warrick Dunn Foundation.
Emcee Brent Jones, a former 49ers tight end, got the crowd going by asking if there were any Cardinals fans in the dome. Clapping, whistling and whooping erupted.
Steelers fans? Even louder.
Bucs fans? The loudest.
But the most enthusiastic response seemed to be for Jesus, not for any team.
The breakfast was hosted by Athletes in Action, a group started in 1966 to use athletes' platforms to talk about Christianity. When players spoke about their faith in God, they were applauded.
And the program ended with former Bengals star and Hall of Fame lineman Anthony Munoz leading a prayer for those who want to commit their lives to Christ.
That's the only reason Dunn said he was able to forgive the man who murdered his mother, a police officer, in 1993. He became a Christian in 2005, he said.
"I was so at peace. God became foremost in my life," Dunn said after receiving the award.
"Things do happen for a reason. I realize that."