He bleeds green and gold, but not just for Baylor.
Santana Dotson, retired defensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers and former Baylor student, served as keynote speaker for the 24th Annual Black Heritage Banquet Thursday.
“I’m assuming everyone here is a Packers fan,” Dotson said with a laugh. “The teams that are playing in the Super Bowl this year weren’t talked about in the beginning of the season. But they fought through and stayed focused on the task. And that’s the type of faith you have to have as a leader.”
The Association of Black Students partnered with the department of multicultural affairs to host the banquet in the fifth floor of the Cashion Academic Building.
“We wanted to make this event more than just something we do now, but something that will become part of black history here at Baylor,” Houston sophomore Amber Lee, ABS corresponding secretary and co-chair of the Black Heritage Banquet, said. “As the 24th banquet, the perseverance of this event shows the commitment of African-Americans at Baylor. We constantly seek opportunities to represent our university and ourselves well. Each year we try to add a theme behind the event that will help excel students.”
This year, the banquet’s theme was discovering the leadership in you. Leaders in the community and on campus joined together to listen to Dotson discuss his Baylor experience and football career.
“I didn’t start on my high school football team until my senior year,” Dotson said. “It was frustrating because I knew I could lead. But with leadership, you have to wait for it and be ready for it. The biggest challenge was my first year at Baylor because I came from inner-city Houston and thought I was big man on campus.”
Dotson sits on the board of directors for Texas Orthopedic Hospital and serves as the celebrity spokesperson for Project Love Santa’s Angels, a nonprofit organization for children. He also established the Santana Dotson Foundation in 1992, providing financial and emotional support for economically challenged high school students seeking a college education.
“ABS asked Mr. Dotson to speak because he has taken his career at Baylor and gone national with it,” Lee said. “It takes more than just talent to be part of a football team. He’s led his community by encouraging Baylor and high school youths.”
Before beginning his professional football career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dotson was a first team all-American player for Baylor from 1988-1991.
In addition to Dotson’s inspiring speech, the banquet featured performances by Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir and Diverse Verses, a new Baylor organization spreading diversity through reciting poetry.
“This is a chance for us to realize there’s leadership beyond Baylor,” Houston junior Jasmine Nkrumah, a member of Diverse Verses, said. “You can find leadership through sports and other outlets.”
Dotson was welcomed to the Baylor Hall of Fame and later named NFL Rookie of the Year in 1992.
“When you lead with bravery, I can’t guarantee you’ll win,” Dotson said. “But you won’t lose the lesson.”
While playing for the Green Bay Packers, Dotson befriended Reggie White, a player known as “The Minister of Defense” for his Christian leadership on and off the field.
“He taught me that each of us needs to develop a sense of purpose,” Dotson said. “We need to ask what do we want to do, what do we want to be known for while we’re here and what we want to be remembered for.”
The ABS presented Dotson with a football plaque and awarded a scholarship to Houston senior Daphne McGee.
“I was so excited and surprised to receive the scholarship,” McGee said. “We were lucky to have Mr. Dotson here and get to hear from him.”