- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 14, 2002

Nobles: Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn, for off-field generosity that goes the whole nine yards.
When he's not rushing around the gridiron, Dunn goes rushing around looking for real estate. He's not a realtor, but he is an agent of sorts. Every year around this time, through his Home for the Holidays project, Dunn presents several struggling single mothers with the $5,000 down payments for a new home, and finds sponsors to provide the necessary furnishings.
He does it right, too. In a home he provided this year for Atlanta resident Keisha Hill, there were welcoming roses on the table, comforters and linens on the beds, towels, shower curtains, floor mats and toilet seat covers in the bathroom, and appliances and cookware in the kitchen. The bedrooms were custom-decorated for Miss Hill's children. There was even an apple pie on the dining room table. He did essentially the same thing for three other Atlanta-area mothers.
Dunn started the program in 1997 in honor of his mother, Betty Smothers. A police officer and single parent, she was killed in the line of duty when Dunn was 18. She never realized her dream of buying a home for herself and her six children.
Her legacy, though, is still growing. So far, her son has helped 38 single mothers and 93 children in Baton Rouge, Tampa and Atlanta. Dunn told an interviewer, "This is just a matter of living through her, and living out her dreams of owning a home."
Thanks to Dunn's generosity, four new families will truly be home for the holidays.

Knaves: The management and mechanics at Alaska Airlines, for negligence so terrible that it brought down Flight 261.
They failed to grease the stabilizer. That was the finding of a National Transportation Safety Board study of the plane crash off the California coast on Jan. 31, 2000, which concluded that the 88 persons aboard lost their lives because employees of Alaska Airlines failed to do the most mundane maintenance.
Apparently, a lack of lubricant and excessive wear on the stabilizer's jackscrew caused the part to jam shortly after the plane took off from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Flight 261's pilots tried to make an emergency landing in Los Angeles, but the stabilizer broke off, sending the plane into its fatal plunge.
The Federal Aviation Administration deserves some of the blame here, too. Its overseers permitted Alaska Airlines to extend maintenance intervals far beyond what they should have been.
Still, the lion's share of the blame resides with Alaska Airlines. It made the request for the extended deadline, and then failed to even provide the modicum of care required.
Neglect isn't easy to measure; it has a tragic habit of showing up in the most unexpected circumstances. It can only be hoped that the crews and managers at Alaska Airlines have learned the lesson.

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