Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 4. Below are some personal choices for that honor by SI writers.
11/20/2006 01:10:00 PM
My Sportsman: Tony Dungy
Somehow, Tony Dungy was able to put aside a parent's worst nightmare last year and continue coaching the Colts this season.
By Michael Silver
Because he is neither loud nor brash, because he derives his power not from the ardor of his gestures but from the content of his character, Tony Dungy doesn't strike us as an archetypical authority figure. But the man is strong-stronger than most of us can imagine, in prosperity and in trying times that, thankfully, most of us will never have to endure.
In many ways, 2006 was a typical year for Dungy, the NFL's winningest coach since 1999: Shaking off a painfully disappointing playoff defeat in January, Dungy resisted the temptation to tear up the castle. Instead, he got back up off the mat and, with steely determination and immense inner conviction, continued a relentless quest he is certain will eventually be completed.
Once again, the Indianapolis Colts -- a team that rightly could have crumbled after last season's crushing comedown from flirting with perfection to swift and sudden elimination -- are atop the NFL standings, back in the ring to take another swing. And if you walk through their locker room and ask the men responsible, they will tell you that the biggest reason for their continued success, even more than Peyton Manning's golden arm or Dwight Freeney's dazzling spin move, is the calm but forceful man in the headset.
In Tampa and in Indy, Dungy's integrity and unflappable sincerity moved his players. But what they've seen of him in '06 has been even more striking. Last December, when Dungy got the horrible news that his oldest son, James, had committed suicide, he (and his wife, Lauren) suffered a parent's worst nightmare. I shudder to think about how insanely impossible it would be to cope with such a tragedy, and had Dungy quit coaching the Colts and gone into a cocoon for the foreseeable future, most of us would have found it entirely understandable.
I'm not placing a value judgment on the way Dungy chose to react, and none of us obviously realizes the agony and sadness he and his family may be experiencing away from the public eye. I'll simply tell you what I've seen: a man who, at his son's funeral, stood tall and exhibited so much grace, poise and even compassion for his fellow grievers that it blew away many who attended. A man of faith and charity who now actively involves himself in organizations dedicated to teen-suicide prevention.
When I do my job and cover Dungy as a football coach, I see a man who asks his players to be tough, resolute and committed to a broader cause while quietly setting the most poignant example of all.
And I know that, even without that elusive Super Bowl ring, he already is a champion.
I have long held the view that Tony Dungy is the classiest act among NFL coaches. It is his calm yet strong demeanor that separates him and makes him a man amongst giants. He is in many ways, the opposite of what we've come to expect from our leadership figures. He doesn't use his voice to overpower others and judging by the respect his team gives him, he doesn't need to. Tony Dungy is not only one heck of a coach, he represents himself as an individual to be respected and honored.
Great article, but... It really hurts me reading your comment that Dungy is the perfect sportsman for this year. I think he rocks, but I truly think there is only one perfect SI Sportsman of the year 2006, and that is Roger Federer.
I always rejected tennis, but he has made me a fan of beauty on the court and off the court. I think it´s the time for us to chose a none american sportsman again, for once.
Roger Federer maybe deserved it in 2004 and 2005 and certainly does now.
Lets show other people we can be generous to everyone+ not for nothing we are a country built by immigrants.
I'll be in the minority here, but I'll also be correct. Give me a break. How about picking someone who has a backbone? How about picking someone who is the actual head coach on his team, and doesn't let his quarterback tell him what to do? Remember in the playoffs when Dungy sent the punting unit into the game, and Manning waved them back and called a play on fourth down instead? Dungy just stood on the sideline and watched, too scared of his quarterback to question the call.
Zidane is obviously Sportsman of the Year. Yea, his headbutt was unsportsmanlike, but he was given THE GOLDEN BALL for Best Player at the World Cup. He represents honor, passion, loyalty and anti-racist ideals. If SI is a world magazine then it is Zidane, no question. If it is American then it is T.O, which is a sad indication of the magazines highlight stories.
He was sportsman of the decade even before this tragedy happened. The fact is there is no award short of a Nobel prize for sportsmanship that is worthy to award Coach Dungy! As he is coaching what is possibly the best quarterback/receiver tandem in the history of the game- they bask in the spotlight and headlines yet everyone sees him through their plays. I think we can say that he has surpassed the need to be recognized by committee as he has become omni present in the game he coaches. What the sports world needs is the Tony Dungy Award for Integrity and Sportsmanship- the one problem may be finding a recipient other than the name sake!
I am in full support of Tony Dungy as the man. He has impressed me for many years and in this wonderful article, we are reminded of how life is more than just finishing first at all costs. As a coach for 15 years, I see a wonderful model of not just X's and O's but even more importantly, dealing with such a tragedy in his own life and continuing to do the best he could for his family and his team. Just look at where Tampa Bay has ended up after the Super Bowl team Tony left behind.
Dungy is a Great coach and class act but Sportsman of the Year has to be a champion. Tiger Woods would be my first choice but I could support Bill Cowher for leading a highly improbable wildcard to superbowl run.
You've got to be kidding me. First of all, it's not Dungy's decision to "tear up the castle" - He is the coach ONLY, not the General Manager. As for his skill as a coach, he's never even GOTTEN to the Super Bowl, let alone won "that elusive ring". In fact, once he was cleared out of the way in Tampa, they won the Super Bowl the next year without him.
There's no doubt that Dungy has been through a lot in the past year, and handled it all with class. But Sportsman of the Year should be about more than just a sympathy vote.
Tony Dungy is absolutely the best chice for the Sportsman of the Year award. S.I truly showed how great of a person Tony Dungy is in this article. There is no other choice for this ward and Tony Dungy deserves it in my mind without a doubt.
Awwww Mike! Why do you spring this one on me? When another colleague of yours has nominated Hines Ward for the honor? Hines Ward! He's my favorite player and the personification of the Pittsburgh Steelers! And you have to upstage that by dropping Coach Dungy's name. Dungy, who was a part-time piece of the Steel Curtain, who spent some time coaching in Pittsburgh and Minnesota, SHOULD have gotten to and won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay if not for a blown call. He's a coach that shows dignity and class in winning and in defeat. He's a man that showed great faith and strength amidst personal tragedy. I suppose your right; Coach Dungy should be Sportsman of the Year. --Michael M.
Tony Dungy is a loser. Someone needs to say it. Go ahead - rip me. John Gruden won a Superbowl he could not even make it to with the same players. He has had one of the best teams in the NFL the last several years and again can't win the big game. Lump him in with Schottenheimer, Levy, and Shanahan (without Elway). All seemingly great people but all losers in the biggest situations.
Duny a class act? What a joke. How many times are the Colts throwing the ball with four touchdown leads in the fourth quarter? He runs the score up more than any coach in the NFL. Give it to someone who knows what the word SPORTSMANSHIP means.
Sportsman of the year canidate or recipiant, doesnt & isnt always a champion on the field, but rather off it - where character and integrity arent blasted on the jumbotron in stadiums full of drunks who only care about the final score of the game.
The mark one leaves outside of the box we call the 'spotlight' carries just as much weight as that left in the record books football and sporting history, Superbowl champion or not.
Whether colts win or loose , i think Dungy is already a winner.In a generation where sports is loosing its integrity and decency, he is a great inspiration. He has shown the world how to play the toghest game in the world like a true gentleman. He gets my vote !!!
Great Article. I'm a huge Tony Dungy and Bucs fan. However, this award must go to Tiger Woods. Remember when he lost the Masters this, everyone was riding the Phil Mickelson and Geoff Oliviy train. He suffered his greatest lost, his dad. He missed the cut. Now he's the most dominate player in his sport today winning 6 to 7 times in a row. We are watching the Best Golf ever to play the game. No disrespect to Jack..
Tony Dungy is everything you want in a Sportsman of the Year. He is the model of the word "sportsman." This is a great choice. And to anonymous who says he runs up the score by throwing with four-TD leads, he obviously hasn't been watching the Colts this year. In spite of their record, they haven't had many four-TD leads where they could throw and "run up the score."
Typical Michael Silver PC pablum. Yes, give Sportsman of the year to a coach who has never won anything and couldn't get some really talented teams to the Super Bowl- see, Bucs, Tampa and Colts, Indy. Silver sooooo wants to be liked by the people he writes about.
While it certainly seems that Coach Dungy is a calm, classy, rules-oriented man, the suicide of his son demands that we re-examine our overwhelmingly positive assumptions about him. I also have a son, and there is no way that the primary responsibility for the mental state of a child belongs to anyone other than the parents. Coaching football is a full-time, away from the family type of job (many would say too much so), but certainly a man as intelligent as Coach Dungy would have been aware that something was not well with his son. And yet he stayed on as a coach and did not take any sort of sabbatical to help his son? This bothers me a great deal, as does his public demeanor following his son's suicide. Calmness and lack of visible grief are not something to admire after such an occurence - they are indicators of a lack of emotional involvement...the same lack of emotional involvement that might have affected the mental state of a young son as he was growing up. I lived in Tampa during Coach Dungy's tenure there, and I have never heard anything negative about the man. But someone that tightly controlled in public is probably that controlled in private as well, and that is a terrible thing for a child to grow up with. Our society loves to jump on good people who occasionally make very public mistakes, but we seem to be unwilling to question those people who have a very clean public image. Heck, Jeffrey Dahmer taught Sunday school for crying out loud, and no one ever had any problems with him! The African-American community refused to accept even the possibility that OJ was guilty, although years later I think we all pretty much have come to grips with reality on that too. Obviously these are extreme examples that are not in the least similar to Coach Dungy's case, but I simply wish to point out a major blind spot in our culture. If we won't question people's character in those extreme cases, we certainly don't question whether a man might be too preachy and inflexible with his human, imperfect, mistake prone children at home. We want to find good role models, and then once we have decided on who they are, we refuse to question their character ever again. For me, the suicide of his child is a major red flag that we may have overestimated Coach Dungy's 'perfection.' I think of my son and I fervently hope that James Dungy had a happy childhood with love and attention from both parents, and that his death was somehow attributable to something completely unforeseen and unavoidable. But as a parent, I have a hard time believing that, and I wish that other people would stop and consider their blind support of Coach Dungy and other public figures who are simply better at controlling their public image than others. That doesn't always make them better human beings, and may even hide a darker reality in some cases. Maybe Coach Dungy is not one of those, but his son committed suicide a thousand miles away. He certainly should not be anywhere within a thousand miles of being considered Sportsman of the Year.
For years I've always thought Tony Dungy was a great "sportsman". He doesn't let his disappointments affect his attitude towards others. He is the Tom Landry of the modern era. There are so many coaches and players that are clamoring for the camera, costing their teams large penalties with boisterous celebrations or temper tantrums. Coach Dungy just keeps an even keel. He lets Peyton do what Peyton does best, examine a defense and pick it apart. When Peyton waved off the punt team, Coach Dungy said "this one is on you". Peyton pulled through. This nonsense about not winning the "Big One" is a ridiculous blanket statement that is easy to apply without close examination of the actual games. Several of these games were lost due to a bad call which was not reviewable or was reviewed incorrectly, similar to the Oregon-Oklahoma game. Then Dungy lost his son but not his composure. He re-focused and look where the Colts are now, ready for another playoff run. He is the Rock for his team. He has the most class in the NFL, if not all of sports. Tony Dungy is the "Sportsman of the Year" for 2006; even if he does not win the actual award. I also agree with a previous poster. There should be the Tony Dungy Award for integrity and class. Derrick Brooks would be a suitable candidate! Lastly, the Sportsman award should not be for the best athlete. That would be "Athlete of the Year". A Sportsman is someone who shows courtesy to all in victory or defeat. He doesn't proclaim his own greatness, put others down, or blame his "idiot liquored up kicker" for a loss. He works hard and maintains a quiet dignity. He is of a rare breed and deserves to be recognized. After a decade of excellence, Tony Dungy is not just the "Sportsman of the Year", he sets the standard for it.
How sad is it to see that a good chunk of readers out there seem to think sportsman of the year is based on winning the Super Bowl? The same readers who called him "weak" and a "loser" are probably the same people who sport their T.O. and Randy Moss jerseys and call themselves fans of the game. And don't even write that garbage that Gruden put the Bucs over the top. Dungy's defense won Tampa Bay the Super Bowl. Period. Their offense has stunk since then with Gruden at the helm...a self-proclaimed offsensive guru...and their overall record since then proves what an overrated coach Gruden is. Give the award to someone who has the qualities and attributes players and assistant coaches should strive to have. Ask any current/former player that has played under Dungy...nothing but deep respect and admiration for the man. Not only is he a great choice for sportsman of the year...he's the right one.
I agree with Mr. Silver on his recommendation of Tony Dungy for Sportsman of the Year. This award should be given not just the winningest person in his sport(s), but to the person who exemplifies sportsmanship and who is a role model and example for children and adults. Who wouldn't want their child to grow up to be like Tony Dungy? Would they rather have them grow up to be like T.O. or Ray Lewis. I don't think so. Maybe Tony Dungy hasn't won a Super Bowl, but the persons in the past who have could never, by any stretch of the imagination be called sportsmen. He is a true gentleman and someone I would like to call friend. And for those who disagree with these and other positive comments, have the guts to put your name on your negative comments. Don't hide behind the anonymous moniker--Talk about weak.
What a sad reflection on sportsmanship. Those who disagree want to personally attack Tony Dungy and even call him a loser. Perhaps those who are so quick to criticize need to learn there is more to life than winning a Super Bowl is not what makes a person a winner or loser in life. Yes, it is about how you play the game. Amen for Tony Dungy for Sportsman of the Year.
As I've read through the comments posted about Dungy, it seems that his inabilty (till now) to get to the Superbowl is what prevents people to support him as Sportsmanship of the Year. Well, as a parent I'll just say this. I will rather see my children grow into somebody like Dungy that like many other coaches or athletes who have been more succesful in terms of trophies. Sportmanship of the Year to me means somebody who deserves to become a role model and works within the sports world. And to me Mr. Dungy, you are a role model.
response to the guy who posted at 12:50AM on 11/24 that it should be given to someone who knows the meaning of "Sportsmanship' maybe he should have looked it up first.....since Tony Dungy embodies the definition: SPORTMANSHIP conduct (as fairness, respect for one's opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport
I have always holded my comment on Coach Dungy as i did not wanted people to feel mercy on him. He is man among boy not only on the football field but in real life. You can take this to the bed weather he wins the Super Bowl (Which I am 100% sure he will before he retires) or he never wins one in my life he is the Best Damn Football Personality I have ever known and will ever know.
Coach we respect you for your Wisdom and Strength. You are the rock that really pounded in Tampa but your time will come soon....
Ill agree with one of the anonymous columns and say that Tony Dungy is weak. The guy is weak, face it, he has no control and Manning runs that team on offense, and Ron Meeks on defense. If the sportsman of the year would be a coach, how about picking someone who is the actual head coach on his team, and doesn't let his quarterback tell him what to do? I do remember in the playoffs (against my Pats) when Dungy sent the punting unit into the game, and Manning waved them back and called a play on fourth down instead. Dungy just stood there afraid Peyton would question him. Come on people, lets be real. Tony Dungy is weak.
I am an Ohio State alum, so I must admit to an extreme bias here. I would nominate Troy Smith. He has shown tremendous leadership qualities both on and off the field. He has earned his diploma, a rarity for most athletes of his calibre. He has also given an example that many of us can benefit from (especially young athletes) that you can learn from your mistakes and become a better person.
Forget that I love the Colts...Tony Dungy is everything I would want a son to grow up and be. He embodies everything that is right whether it be in sports or in life! For those who say he failed to get a ring in Tampa..hello..he set it all up and Tampa let Gruden walk in and take credit for it. That's not really a fair assesment of his worth as a coach. He deserves Sportsman of the year..hands down!
Tony Dungy is a class act all the way. To attack him as a person and a parent as one person did is just plain wrong. You don't know the man or how he is with his family. Perhaps you should pay more attention to your own family and quit ripping a man who has suffered a tragedy that causes unthinkable pain. You claim to be a father, would you like someone to mock your family values if your child were to commit suicide? I didn't think so. Shut your mouth!
Too many worthy candidates for Sportsman of the Year to choose just one but Dungy deserves to be considered.
OK, Im not here to debate whether or not Dungy should be sportsman of the year. Dungy is basically a hero in my book and I am responding to a quote by Anonymous who posted a massive message basically claiming he is a better father by virtue his son is still alive, and even named OJ and Dahmer is his post. Seriously man you really think your a better dad then him? In you time in Tampa did you happen to notice James on the sideline with his dad every sunday? Or maybe the fact that his second son Eric is in charge of picking up the kickoff tee for the Colts? How old is your child? James was 18 and in College, so no matter what Dungy's profession was there is a good chance by the time James was 18 he wouldn't be living with his dad anyways. The fact the someone could read this article then come lash out these ignorant comments is just sad. At the funeral it was obvious that Dungy was more then diturbed and you claim he basically being a coward for not crying. Sportsman of the Year? Who knows, but if you ask me I doubt Dungy even cares.
I respectfully disagree, Tony Dungy blames every loss on a non call by the refs. or the replay jumbo tron giving the home team the advantage. His press conferences always end up talking about how things should be changed. No other coach complains to make changes to his teams advantage as consistently as he does. How about Lovie Smith as a nominee. He's a class act! Fran
I can't judge what Mr. Dungy has done in private, but from the what I have seen Publicly he is hands down the right man for Sportsman oof the year. The Tampa superbowl win was from his hard work, and Gruden just came in to receive all the credit. What has Gruden done since then, completely dismatled a team that could have won another superbowl. For the writer that said Dungy's actions towards his son's suicide is a red flag: Who are you to judge the man's provate life?
I agree with the author that Tony Dungy deserves the sportsman of the year award. The individuals who say that he could not win a championship in Tampa has to look at what happened: He was fired (for a stupid reason) and Jon Gruden claimed a championship that was supposed to be Dungy's. What happened the next season? Tony Dungy started to fix the Colts up while Gruden started to show why he is a mediocre coach at best. Look at the stats now: Tony Dungy's team is contending for a championship while Jon Gruden's team is fighting to stay alive for the postseason (again). Let's look at the personal tragedy. I'm sure that he cried and wept when he heard his son committed suicide. I'm sure that he suffers everyday from the anguish and pain of losing his beloved son. However, he knew that life goes on, and if he doesn't move on, then life will pass him by. He became a rock for his family and for his team. He became a role model for those who have lost family members along the way. Just because an individual does not win championships does not mean he cannot win be an inspiration for others to follow. Let's see, would i rather have a Tony Dungy be a positive influence in the lives of myself and others, or would i have someone who is unstable, unsure, immoral? I'll take Tony Dungy any day.
I think the author and so many others have completely missed the point. It is the SPORTSMAN of the year award and NOT the manager or the coach of the year award. only give him the award if he has actually played something. The award is not for sportsmanship but, for being the best in sports.
I believe that it is unfair for him to be blamed for what happened to his son like some people have done. Also, it is ridiculous to give him the award because he has suffered a tragedy with dignity and composure.
Let me start by saying that I live in Indy and that I have been a Colts fan for over 15 years. With that said, Dungy is not sportsman of the year. Dungy IS a very classy man that represents honor, integrity, and everything the NFL could want in one of it's coaches. But to be Sportsman of the year he must excel, not only as a person but also as a coach. I continue to see my Colts outschemed and outcoached in elimination games that we have had the talent to win. Our defense, with the exception of last year, has not achieved the success that was the reason for Dungy's hiring. If not for Manning overcoming all of our deficiences, we would not even be a playoff team. We should have won at least 1 Super Bowl by now. But Dungy has failed to deliver and out window is quickly closing.
Michael Silver's article was a wonderful example of his opinion of what a great sportsman should be. I agree with him and many others who have given reason's why their choice should be chosen. What bothers me is some of the other post's that rather than give a good alternative they would rather bash Tony Dungy a great coach and an even better human being
I have no idea if Tony Dungy deserves to be sportsman of the year or what the criteria for such a portentiously "important" honor may be, but...
The poster who presumes to know what the suicide of James Dungy means about Tony Dungy's character, parenting, or his relationship with his son is wrong, reactionary and grossly uninformed about the realities of suicide and mental illness. With absolutely no knowledge of the factors in the younger Dungy's life that contributed to his mental and emotional state, to automatically point fingers at anyone or anything is ignorant, irresponsible speculation. These are the kind of baseless assumptions that perpetuate the stigma of mental illness both within families and among the wider public, and which I hope can one day become a relic of a less enlightened past.
As a reply of what the Ohio State fan said, I say being the Sportsman of the Year is not about being good and a leader, only. It is also about being a good person, loving your team and giving anything for it, as Dungy did. Dungy is the man.
The people who think gruden is the reason tampa won the S.B. obviously didnt watch that S.B.! In grudens very own words after the game was completed he said that this was the team Dungy built who won it,not him, much to the owners dismay,they didnt want to hear that of course! Dungy has class that few people will ever know! And to those who say he doesnt count because he hasnt won the S.B. tell your kid that when he loses the spelling bee or the little league game or anything he doesnt win at, go ahead and tell him hes a loser no matter how he handles it or how hard he tries,if this is your train of thought folks then you are not the person to be judging anyone elses class,but could use some lessons on class your self!!!
First, it's rediculous how some decide to attack the person and decide to completely ignore the meaning of the word "sportsman". And particular shame to the poster who decided to, in essence, say that Tony's son's death was caused in part by him. That's just revolting.
Second, I agree completely with what Mike said about Dungy. A GREAT guy, with a hell of a spirit. If I had to pick one person to coach my own children, if only to help them build good moral fiber, it would without doubt be him.
Lastly, let's not make this a one man race. While Dungy is certainly deserving, has anyone thought about LaDanian Tomlinson? For the nitwits above who demand success, they need to simply look at the past 6 weeks of his play. And his conduct on and off the field has shown that he keeps his attitude pure while crushing records. Another choice could be P. Manning. Same reasons as for LT.
I've read these comments for a while, agreeing with some, disagreeing with others. To blame ignorantly a father for the suicide of his son or to presume that only one reaction to loss is acceptable is cruelty beyond measure and the most presumptuous nonsense imaginable. I think Mr. Silver is right. Mr. Dungy has always, in public (and that's all we are able to demand in a coach)behaved with integrity, moderation, and respect for his players and fans.
Anmerica's Coach=Coach Dungy. Not since Tom Landry has football had a leader like Dungy. I was at the Dallas game and I have never seen so many opposition jersey's or fans at a non playoff road game as I saw in Dallas last week--America's team is the Colts-not Romo, not Parcells, not T.O. not the Cowboys or their cheerleaders. American's coach and SPORTSMAN of the year is Tony Dungy. Bob Knight take note.
I remember Tony Dungy as a very classy young Quarterback at the University of Minnesota. As a Vikings Assistant coach, he brought some much-needed class to a very tacky organization. I never cease to be amazed at what a classy man Tony Dungy is. He not only represents what is good in sport, he represents what can be good in all of us. Good luck getting to the Super Bowel, Tony-a bunch of us here in Minnesota are still rooting for you.
I am a woman who loves football and I've been a Raider fan since I was a little girl. When I watch Tony and the Colts I can't help but think this is a man that can lead a team to the next Super Bowl. Tony gets my vote as SI Sportsman of the year.
Dungy is just a glorified Defensive Coordinator in Indianapolis, remember the game against the Steelers last year????, manning simply overpowered him on that fourth down when he sent the punt unit back to the sidelines... On what other team would a coach allow that??? Do you think Brady would get away with that???? Dungy has had no effect on the Colts, hell... his defense is mediocre at best, benefiting from a superb offensive team... Manning and Moore are the ones runing the Colts... Dungy is a great personb but a really lousy headcoach, and his impact on the colts has been ZERO
This is a Sportsman award. It is not the best player, or the player who does the dumbest dances. For that reason, Dungy deserves this. He is a class act who is a great role model. Let't not also forget that he is a great coach with an amazing winning record. Who cares if he doesn't have a superbowl ring, this is the championship award, bu the sportmans of the year, somthing dungy clearly deserves