Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thank You, Coach Dungy!

The football community just watched Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy ride off into the sunset. He's taking his smile, wisdom and passion down the ol' dusty trail. He asked us not to shed any tears for him because he lived the dream.

I'm not a Colts fan, but I will miss Coach Dungy. I relate him a bit to Dean Smith and Joe Gibbs, two legendary coaches of my two favorite teams. In a sports world filled with bombastic personalities at the head coaching position, it was nice to see guys like Dungy, Gibbs and Smith succeed at the highest level. They had their flaws, sure, but they fought for what they believed was right and did it with the highest respect for the people they worked with. They were also very spiritual, which isn't normally something I gravitate to. Still, that is getting much more rare in these cut-throat times we know live in.

He was so quiet and unasuming that you forget all the success he has enjoyed. Remember that Tampa Bay had 13 straight losing seasons when Dungy took over (all but one season saw them lose at least 10 games). After a 6-10 season to start off his career, Dungy never had another losing campaign. Tampa went from 14 straight losing seasons to five seasons at least at .500 and four playoff appearances. Sure, he left for Indy and Jon Gruden took the Bucs to the Super Bowl, but Dungy changed the culture of that franchise.

In the 13 years since Dungy first took over in 1996, the Bucs have had just four losing seasons and seven playoff appearances.

We all know what he's done in Indy. All seven of his seasons saw the Colts win at least 10 games ... with the last six seasons seeing the Colts winning at least 12 games. They won the AFC South five times and finished 2nd twice. He got his Super Bowl title in 2006, becoming the first black head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl title.

Now he's headed on to greater things and the NFL world will miss him. But remember that just because Dungy isn't preparing football players anymore doesn't mean that he will stop teaching his values.

Thank you Coach Dungy for showing us how someone can be so successful, so humble, so private and so inspirational.

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