Monday, February 05, 2007

Here's To You, Tony Dungy

Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts.

At first, it appeared that their nerves were getting the best of them. You had the kick off return by Chicago. Then, the Colts received two false start penalties, followed by Payton Manning throwing an interception. It also started to rain which I figured would favour the Bears since they're use to playing in Soldier Field, which experiences all types of crazy weather, whereas the Colts play more games in an indoor stadium. But, Indy settled down and took charge when it mattered the most. The defence was clutch, especially in the 4th quarter, when the Colts forced Chicago's Rex Grossman to throw two interceptions. One of which was returned for a touchdown and in my opinion, was the moment that solidified Indy's victory.

If there is one person on the Colts that I am really happy for, it's their head coach, Tony Dungy.

Dungy is one of the most respected coaches in the National Football League. This admiration is not only for his work on the field, but also for his work off the field. Unlike other coaches in the NFL and other professional sports leagues, he is very respectful to his players and doesn't raise his voice or go on a power trip.

Fourteen months ago, Dungy was probably at the top of his game, when tragedy struck his family.

Three days before Christmas, Dungy's 18-year-old son, James, died of a drug overdose. A preliminary coroner's report showed that James had committed suicide. The death was devastating to Dungy, his family, and the Colts.

At the time, the Colts were having a phenomenal season. They went an impressive 13-0 before finishing the 2005 campaign with a record of 14-2. Many had picked Indy to win the Super Bowl. However, James' death clearly affected the Colts, who seemed to lack the desire and energy they showed for most of the season. They ended up being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. Nobody could blame Tony Dungy if he wasn't focused on winning. The fact that he was able to return to the sidelines, just a couple of weeks after burying his son, was something no one was expecting.

One could only imagine the pain Dungy was and probably still is feeling. The worst thing for any parent is outliving a son or a daughter. I hope I never have to go through that. I pray that it never happens to any of my friends or family. You have to appreciate how Dungy was able to come back this season despite carrying such a heavy burden.

The Colts were not as impressive as they were in 2005. They went 12-4 and failed to earn a bye to the second round of the playoffs, as they had done in the previous year. However, they managed to fight their way to the championship. Many teams are not be able to hold on, when it appears that any chance of winning would end up unfulfilled. I believe the Colts were able to win because of the strength and leadership provided by Dungy. He is not only their head coach but also an inspiration and a metaphor for overcoming your deepest sorrow.

Of course, winning the Super Bowl will not bring back his son. However, it will help ease the pain, just a little bit.

Here's to you, Tony Dungy.

The Hek

*Catch Episode 28 of the Audio Circus*

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