Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dungy: Class act retires from N.F.L. to do God's work

Monday Tony Dungy confirmed the speculation that he’s retiring from coaching. After seven years as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts Dungy has decided to he’s had enough. Dungy, who lead the Colts to the Super Bowl title in 2006, will leave coaching to pursue other interests which include spending more time with his family and engaging in endeavors that will hopefully make a difference in the mainstream.

Dungy is noted for being the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl. He marched his team past the Chicago Bears in 2006 who was coached by Lovie Smith: it represented the first time two African American head coaches squared off in sports biggest spectacle.

Dungy has built a winner in Indianapolis. He has set a standard of excellence few coaches can lay claim to today. Dungy will walk away only to hand his head set over the very capable Jim Caldwell. It’s the first time an African American coach has built an organization in the N.F.L. while anointing another African American to take his place. It’s routine for white coaches get recycled with other teams, fail, and hand pick their successors. The latter leaves many qualified African Americans out of the loop.

Much applause goes to the Colts organization for allowing Dungy the opportunity to succeed and for Caldwell to follow. It shows the Colts organization is serious about winning and sensitive to diversity. Not many African American coaches in any professional sport had been given the freedom to do things their way without unnecessary restriction like Dungy was given.

Unlike those who embrace the “me first” generation Dungy is ole school coach whose quiet strength helped to build a perennial contender in Indianapolis. Dungy is the only coach in N.F.L. history to lead a team to the playoffs for 10 consecutive years. He also set a record for winning at least twelve games in six consecutive seasons. Coaching greats like Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Tom Landry, and his mentor Chuck Knoll can’t claim the latter.

Unlike most African American coaches and athletes Dungy is seeking to utilize his platform for something bigger than winning football games. He seeks to give hope to those who reside in disenfranchised communities hope. Dungy wants to show children and young adults how the value of teamwork can work off the field. He’ll use his faith and success he’s had in sports to bring about change outside of football.

Dungy could’ve asked for more money and received it or more time to mull his coaching future without resistance. Butt’s not about money or time with Dungy-it’s about him moving on to a new chapter in his life while doing God’s work.

Unlike many who look for pity parties, Dungy is a man faith who simply moves forward. When Dungy was fired from Tampa Bay after the 2001 season he didn’t point fingers or complain. He even paid homage to the Glazier family who hired him at his retirement press conference. Dungy prayed for another opportunity and got it with the Colts.

When Jon Gruden replaced him in Tampa Bay and won the Super Bowl in 2003 with his players Dungy didn’t harbor any resentment. He just moved on. When Dungy tragically lost his son in 2005 to suicide Dungy dealt with the tragedy as best he could and moved on.

Sometimes in life what’s for us isn’t always near us. Sometimes we have to leave the neighborhood to receive your glory. That’s what Dungy did. What he sought in Tampa wasn’t destined to happen there because it was supposed to happen in Indiana.

In his seven years in Indianapolis he won a ton of games and a Super Bowl: but most important he won the respect of an entire state for being a winner and a class act. Dungy’s coaching record (148-79) suggests his ranks amongst the games greats. As he exits the coaching stage I’m sure the numbers won’t matter to him because personally, I think he’s going where he's being lead.

Dungy is about to embark upon a journey which will require him to undertake the work God has for him to do. He wants to build up his ministry and increase opportunities for those in down-trodden communities. Dungy wants to use his platform he established in sports to engage in efforts to change mainstream America. To me that’s real work.

Without question Dungy is a class act. He’ll be missed quietly stalking the sidelines in his subtle but effective way of leading. Dungy won the Super Bowl as a coach and I’m sure he'll win another doing God’s work.

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