Waving Farewell To Tony Dungy

Colts coach calling it quits after 12 years

Coaches write books. When they do so, they're usually titled something meant to inspire their readers, to see this coach as a larger-than-life figure, a leader of men. Tony Dungy's book is called "Quiet Strength." We've never read it. But we can tell you this: For once, a coach's book title doesn't seem like complete B.S.

Over 12 years in the NFL, Dungy subjected himself to the rigors of NFL coaching, rigors which, for all the sarcasm and derision we can muster, truly suck. 18 hour days. A home city that either hates or loves you, depending on the outcome of that week's contest. The stress of competition. Managing hundreds of extremely well-paid athletes, coordinating them to play with something resembling coheison. As Spencer Hall at the Sporting Blog writes today, money seems to be the only thing that would keep an NFL head coach around much longer than a few years. That's a job no one should envy.

And yet Dungy did it, quiet and strong, for 12 years, first with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers, who unceremoniously fired him after years of success; and then with the Indianapolis Colts, whose fans embraced him, whose quarterback carried him, and whose defense he improved beyond most Mora-era Colts fans' wildest imaginations. And in 2006, in Miami, Dungy won his first and only Super Bowl over the Chicago Bears -- the first African-American head coach to do so.

Dungy isn't perfect or controversy-free. He is a devoutly Christian man, whose faith has occasionally intersected with politics, and he has drawn fire from homosexual rights groups for his strong disagreement with gay marriage. But on the field, Dungy has been almost beyond reproach. He's been successful, classy, and full of perspective, and he has earned his time off, time he says he wants to spend with his family. If we know anything about Tony Dungy, we can bet he's telling the truth.

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