Dungy: a story of consistent faith

DungyCoverHow do you tell a story that’s essentially been told over and over again? That is the trouble for reporters who are assigned to write about the release of a book by Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, who is as consistent as anyone when it comes to expressing the important things in his life.

You can’t have an interview or even a conversation with Dungy without recognizing that his personal faith in Jesus Christ is the most important thing to him. After defeating the Chicago Bears and winning the Super Bowl earlier this year, Dungy stated explicitly on national television that his faith was the most important thing to him. And guess what his book has him saying?

The additional challenges reporters face is that they are essentially covering a publicity tour designed to sell books. The book release is news, of course, and Dungy has as good a story as anyone who has accomplished something like winning a Super Bowl, but that’s not necessarily going to be a new story.

Here’s how Newsweek‘s Mark Starr put it leading into a nice question and answer with Dungy:

Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy never envisioned becoming the next hot management guru by writing a boastful “How I Won the Super Bowl” book. But so many friends and fans urged him to share his views on faith, family and personal responsibility that Dungy, the first African-American coach to win the big game, decided to seize the championship platform. The result is “Quiet Strength” (Tyndale House. $26.99). While the book provides the requisite football snapshots, Dungy’s tale is one in which God, not Peyton Manning, is the No. 1 quarterback. And the biggest challenges don’t come from the New England Patriots but from life — none more so, in Dungy’s case, than enduring the tragic suicide of his 18-year-old son, Jamie, in 2005.

I’ve only seen a copy of the book and haven’t read it, so I can’t vouch for its content or whether it’s being reported accurately. But I can say that it shouldn’t be difficult for non-sportswriters out there (or the sportswriters looking for a religion angle) to find a way to write about one of the more inspiring and genuine stories that we’ve seen, especially in football, in years.

Here is where I disclaim the fact that I was born and raised in Indianapolis and absolutely love the Colts and Dungy. In fact, my wife and I are moving back to Hoosierland at the end of the month for a variety of reasons. So forgive me if I am a bit biased in proclaiming the awesomeness of Dungy. How often do you see an NFL head football coach say that God is more important than his Hall of Fame quarterback?

As for the Newsweek interview with Dungy, I think there are a number of leads worth expanding on, including his insistence that winning the Super Bowl is not the ultimate goal in life. How does that apply to the rest of us? Are the jobs we hold the most important thing in life?

Another idea is taking a view of Dungy’s faith from the growing anti-faith movement we’re seeing in America lately. Dungy admits to Newsweek that his faith was tested during tragedy. But ultimately his faith helped him through. How does that align in a world where we’re being told by more and more people that God doesn’t exist?

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  • http://www.lutheranzephyr.com Chris Duckworth

    Contra your suggestion that this is a great story in light of “the growing anti-faith movement we’re seeing in America lately,” I think an interesting angle on this story would be to place Tony Dungy’s story of faith in the context of the rather broad appeal to and display of faith that is present (and growing, it seems to me) in professional sports, especially the NFL (one need think only of Reggie White, the “Minister of Defense” as an example).

    And with some current and retired black athletes entering the ministry – many preaching a “prosperity gospel” – (think of Herb Lusk in Philadelphia, among others), another interesting angle would be to consider his gift for proclaiming faith in light of the growing number of professional athletes turned preachers. How does his story of faith or his theology compare to that of other preaching pro athletes?

  • http://cometothewaters.wordpress.com John

    My wife and I enjoyed the book a great deal. We are both admirers of Dungy – and Colts fans.

    If you are looking for a complex theologial treatise, though, you are going to the wrong place.

    Dpulliam (as in the newspaper family Pulliams?), welcome back to Indiana.

  • astorian

    The best thing about Tony Dungy is this: unlike Indiana’s OTHER champion coach (one Bobby Knight), Dungy understands that one doesn’t have to be a vile, obscene loudmouth to be a disciplinarian.

    Dungy doesn’t have to scream in a player’s face or curse and him or question his manhood to prove that he’s in charge. Dungy IS in charge, and everyone knows it.


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