I love Tony Dungy. Yes, maybe it’s because he coached my favorite NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts. Yes, maybe because he led the Colts to the city’s first major sports championship in my lifetime. But I have really grown to appreciate who Tony Dungy is as a person and the principles in which he led the football teams he did.
In preparation for Coach Dungy’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction this weekend, I reread his first book Quiet Strength, which was published in 2007 after the Colts won Super Bowl XLI. The last time I did any significant reading of Quiet Strength, I was preparing the eulogy for my nephew’s funeral six years ago. I recalled the strength in Coach Dungy’s words regarding dealing with grief (Dungy’s son Jamie died suddenly in 2005), and I wanted to articulate my own feelings in a similar way. His words helped me personally deal with my own grief.
To me, Tony Dungy embodies everything that is right in coaching and in being a leader for humanity. He was not only a good football coach but he knew the importance of using his platform for good. In observing him and reading about his career over the last twenty years, these are the character traits that I most appreciate about Tony Dungy:
- He built his teams on character and values, the same way he lived his life.
- As a coach, he always did things the “right way.” He never compromised character and virtues, even if it meant a better chance of winning.
- He was positive with his coaching staff and players but he held them accountable.
- He shared his faith openly with his coaching staff and players who were life-minded. He thought it was important that his players and coaches be connected spiritually.
- He was loyal. He refused to fire Mike Shula in Tampa Bay after the 1998 season when Joel and Brian Glazer asked him to do so.
- He often preached to his team, “Do What We Do.”Tony Dungy “did what he did” and he did it with class.