Monday, January 12, 2009

Dungy retires

Today one of the classiest, most well-respected NFL coaches called it a career.

Tony Dungy always considered football just a career path.

Not his life's mission.

On Monday, Dungy began the transition from head coach to full-time dad and devoted volunteer by announcing his retirement after seven years leading the Indianapolis Colts.

"We just felt this was the right time," Dungy said. "Don't shed any tears for me. I got to live a dream most people don't get to live."

The move triggered a succession plan Indianapolis put in place a year ago, making Jim Caldwell, the associate head coach, Dungy's replacement.

In thirteen seasons as an NFL head coach (six with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, seven with the Colts) Dungy compiled an astounding regular season record of 139-69. His .759 winning percentage as Colts head coach is the third best with one team in NFL history. He is also one of only three people to win a Super Bowl as both a player and head coach.

Dungy is just as well known for his devout Christianity, which was publicly on display In December 2005. Three days before Christmas, Dungy’s 18-year old son, James, took his own life. It was that tragic situation which really showed us the class, character and dignity of Dungy. Instead of showing the breath-taking devastation he must have felt inside, Dungy, along with wife Lauren, rejoiced in the fact that their son was with Jesus.

A little more than a year later, Dungy became the first African-American head coach to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy when the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. He did so in the same manner he has handled defeat and tragedy ---- with grace and humility.

Yes, he was a better man than he was a football coach. And he was one heck of a football coach.


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