January 12, 2009
Colts' Dungy Retires
Evangelical coach, who led Indy to 2007 Super Bowl title, wants to spend more time with family
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an earlier blog post.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, known for his strong Christian faith and his commitment to family, announced his retirement Monday afternoon, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family and in volunteer work.
"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."
Dungy, 53, told his staff and some players on Monday morning after taking a week to discuss his options with his wife, Lauren. He will be succeeded by associate head coach Jim Caldwell.
Dungy coached the Colts for seven seasons, including the 2006-07 season when he became the first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl. At the time, he said he was just as proud as being an evangelical coach in the big game as he was of making black history.
Dungy said he wanted to spend more time with his family in Tampa, where he coached for six seasons, and do more work in the community.
"I think I've got a responsibility to be home a little bit more, be available to my family a little bit more and do some things to help make our country better," Dungy said. "I don't know what that is right now, but we'll see."
"Where my heart is, is really with our young men right now," Dungy said. "We have so many guys that didn't grow up like me, didn't have their dad there and that's something I'm very, very interested in."
Dungy will be remembered not only for his gentle spirit and winning ways (he was 148-79 in 13 years as a head coach), but also for the way he and his family handled the suicide of his 19-year-old son's suicide in 2005. Dungy walked through that tragedy with grace and dignity, wearing his faith on his sleeve.
The Indianapolis Star is putting together a special section to remember Dungy's years as their NFL team's beloved coach.
As soon as his retirement was announced, praises from colleagues, competitors and the media began pouring in:
Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith: "I'm happy for Tony and his family, but sad for our league because we are losing one of the all-time great coaches. He is one of the modern-day pioneers of our game. His r?sum? includes achievements no other NFL head coach has accomplished, which I'm sure will lead to a spot in the Hall of Fame. And as great of a coach as he is, he's an even better person."
Colts president Bill Polian: "His teaching ability, his example and most importantly, his unshakable faith and optimism inspired us all. Most of you don't know that it doesn't rain on a Tony Dungy practice. Terre Haute or Indianapolis could be up to its ankles in water, but it doesn't rain on a Tony Dungy practice. It wouldn't have rained in Miami (at the Super Bowl) except that I'm sure Tony and God talked about it and said it would be OK."
City coach Herman Edwards: "His biggest legacy will be all the people around the country who he's inspired to be better and to deal with some of life's tragedies in a manner that gives people a lot of strength. What he went through with his son and how he handled it, was something that says a lot about Tony, his faith and what he stands for."
Former Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp: "Have you ever heard of a guy named Billy Graham? Well, put Tony Dungy right beside him because that's just how powerful and strong he is. He commands respect everywhere he goes."
Tennessee Titans linebacker and ex-Colts linebacker David Thornton: " know he has visions and aspirations of continuing to go out and using the platform that God has blessed him with to bless the lives of many. He'll definitely be able to dedicate more time to his family. There's so many wonderful things about Coach Dungy that I know I can relate to. He's not just about coaching players to be better football players, but to become better men."
New England coach Bill Belichick: "People often say that teams reflect their head coach, and that can be said of Tony Dungy's teams, which are consistent winners every single year. Tony has been such a fixture in this league that his absence will take some getting used to."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: "Tony Dungy taught us all how to handle triumph and tragedy with dignity and grace. Although we will miss him, Tony is a great man and his impact will be part of the NFL forever."
Sally Jenkins, The Washington Post: "Tony Dungy made winning seem like a good deed. That's his real achievement as an NFL coach, the one he's proudest of, as opposed to any claim to being the first this or that. His bequest to the league includes his Super Bowl-victor's role in prodding a bunch of reluctant owners toward social justice, but mainly he'll be known for plain decency, the fact he paired the words 'champion' and 'good guy' in the same sentence."
Alex Marvez, Fox Sports: "Maybe [new Colts coach Jim] Caldwell will ultimately become a more successful coach than Dungy. But it's hard to imagine anyone being a better person by trying to make the world a better place. This is what Dungy should be proudest of as he walks away on his own terms for a higher calling."
Jim Souhan, Minneapolis/St. Paul Star-Tribune: "Football historians will remember Dungy for breaking a racial barrier. Those who know Dungy prefer to think of him as unique in another way. People performed for Dungy because they admired him. They never wanted to disappoint such a charismatic and decent man."
Damon Hack, CNN/SI: "In an era of coaches with outsized egos, Dungy was the symbol of a man with his feet on the ground. And in a time when the basest aspects of hip-hop culture are glamorized to the point of worship, Dungy showed that there are other meanings of being a black man in America."