Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Good Man Leaves Professional Sports

Far too often the reprobates and bad characters of professional sports get the lion's share of attention. Today take a moment to consider retiring Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy. Leo Durocher is misquoted as saying "Nice guys finish last." Well, Dungy puts that statement to rest. Tony Dungy is retiring as the active coach with the highest winning percentage and after leading his team to an unprecedented six consecutive seasons of 12 or more victories. During his time leading the Colts the team reached the playoffs every years and achieved a Super Bowl championship. Prior to assuming the reins in Indianapolis, Dungy was the first coach to have any real success with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In my opinion, his accomplishment in Tampa Bay is more impressive than his success with the Colts. In Tampa Bay he had to overcome a well developed culture of losing. More than "X's and O's" a coach's mission should be to create a winning positive mentality.

Tony Dungy will be remembered in the various cities where he played and coached as much for his off field contributions to the community as for his football accomplishments. He lived his Christian faith openly without being pushy or showy about it. He was a quiet reserved leader. While he seems to have been forgotten since retiring, Chuck Noll is likely the biggest influence on Dungy's coaching style. Noll was another guy who was able to be successful without letting football take over his life.

While I'd be glad to see Dungy lead the team I root for some time in the future, I hope he is able to find success in other pursuits. Listening to his retirement speech I heard a voice which would easily lend itself to public service. However, he may just be too good a man for the nasty business of politics.



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