Dungy’s Affirmation

The NFL saw a wonderful coach and even better man retire this week. Tony Dungy, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, retired in hopes of pursuing other ministry and philanthropic opportunities. The good thing is that he will be back in Tampa.

His influence on other coaches and players has been profound, and even Warrick Dunn who started Homes for the Holidays credits Dungy with challenging him to give back to the community.

One of the things I noticed at his departing press conference was his class and grace. He proclaimed that he had a ton of people to thank, and one of the parties was the Glazer family. They are the family who owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the ones who gave him his first NFL coaching job.

True, they did take a risk in giving an unproven defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings the opportunity of a lifetime. Not to mention they were somewhat pioneering, giving the job to an African-American coach (I don’t remember how few there were back in 1996-but I know there weren’t many.)

So they were among those many whom Dungy thanked. But one could have easily ignored them. I mean, they did fire Dungy even though he took the Bucs to the play-offs 4 out of 6 years he coached and only had one losing season (they had 14 in a row prior to his arrival). And they did deceptively assure him his job was safe, when in fact it wasn’t. And they did not fire his successor despite 3 losing seasons and no play-off victories since the Super Bowl in 2002.

If I were Dungy, I could see myself omitting the Glazers on my people-to-thank list. But he didn’t. He instead affirmed what he could affirm about others. What a lesson we could all learn, especially in dealing with people whom we have “history” or disagreement.

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