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Tony Dungy at FCA banquet: Coaches have such great impact on their players

Tony Dungy at FCA banquet: Coaches have such great impact on their players

10/23/2018
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Story courtesy of JDNews

Tony Dungy believes there’s more to being a coach than “just making a person a better athlete.”

The job also includes being a role model for players, the NFL Hall of fame coach said Monday before speaking at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet at the American Legion building in Jacksonville.

“Coaches have such great impact on their players,” Dungy said. “I know growing up, I had a lot of different coaches who impacted me. And I have a son who just finished playing college football and his high school coaches and his college position coach had such an impact on him.”

And while he’s no longer coaching, Dungy wants to continue making an impact through the FCA while speaking to local coaches and players about the importance of faith. Dungy is also a speaker for Athletes in Action, an organization that uses sports to teach faith.

He said his belief started with his parents. He recalled his mother often talking to him about “doing the right things, the right ways and for the right reasons.”

Football has always played a big role in his life, Dungy added, but he said his mother’s lessons were more about how he should conduct himself while not on the football field or in the locker room.

“You have to be grounded in your faith and in your relationship with the lord,” Dungy said. “So that (his mother’s words) started me off in the right way. But as I grew in sports and further up the ladder, I saw what she was talking about.

“You could see people pour everything into a career or in a game, but you have to realize that this wasn’t the final straw and not the most important thing. My life experiences in college football and in the NFL just solidified that and now I want to get that message out to young people to make sure they are grounded in all facets of life.”

Dungy’s faith has certainly been tested.

He was fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2001 season - the team won Super Bowl XXXVII the next season - while his oldest son committed suicide at 18 in 2005.

Dungy later became the first black head coach to lead a team to a Super Bowl title when the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI during the 2006 season.

Dungy was named to the Colts’ Ring of Honor in 2010, was added to the Buccaneers Ring of Honor on Sept. 24 and was inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame in 2016.

“I would say being the first African American coach to be a head coach of a Super bowl team, that’s so hard to believe, and something I am grateful for,” Dungy said. “Coming into the NFL as a 21-year-old kid, you dream about playing in the Super Bowl or scoring the winning touchdown in a game, but I would never have dreamed about being in the Colts’ Ring of Honor or the Bucs’ Ring of Honor or in the hall of fame. All these are very special moments.”

But they aren’t the only things Dungy remembers about his days in the NFL.

"I miss the players and the relationships," he said. " I don't miss the hours and the offseason work."

Dungy has worked as analyst on NBC's Football Night in America since he retired from coaching in 2009. That said year, former New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison joined the show, giving Dungy a formal rival to banter back-and-forth with on the set.

“NBC has been fun,” Dungy said. “I do love working with Rodney Harrison. We kind of go back-and-forth and share our thoughts. It allows me to stay in the game and stay involved, but not be at it 24-7, 365 days a year.”

To this day, Dungy will pick former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning over the Patriots’ Tom Brady.

“They are both tremendous, but I spent seven years with Peyton Manning,” Dungy said. I wouldn’t want any other quarterback to play for me.”

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