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Dungy decision: Good for us, bad for his family?

It's probably fitting that an introspective and candid figure like Tony Dungy elicits similar reaction from the people who try to write about him. In sports, we usually deal with the obvious by accentuating it with whatever flourish we can muster, whether it's the excellence of the Patriots and Tom Brady, or the surprise of the New York Giants and Eli Manning.

However, Dungy is a constant reminder of a greater purpose in life beyond the sidelines, off the court or away from the course.

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So when Dungy ended the short vigil being held by the Colts and the NFL, in general, by announcing late yesterday that he would return at least for another football season, it prompted the type of stories you don't normally see about a such a decision.

I wanted to bring a couple to your attention. One probably represents the mainstream outlook from ESPN's Len Pasquarelli  that echoes the sentiment of many NFL fans and observers that we're lucky to have Dungy back for however long he chooses to coach. But that this is temporal, as all things are, and that once Dungy leaves this stage, Len points out, it is unlikely we will see him return. Dungy's next move will be guided by his faith and there be no curtain calls as in the case of the seemingly perennial re-emergence of Bill Parcells, to use one of Pasquarelli's examples.

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But there was another, more jolting take on Dungy's return from Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz. The hometown writer goes out on a limb in calling the hometown icon a "hypocrite." Because Dungy's positions on parenting are so public, Kravitz is unable to reconcile the circumstances that Dungy's family has relocated to Tampa and that Dungy has decided to devote his time to the consuming job of running a football team in Indianapolis. Before judging Kravitz, read the column. He took up the matter with Dungy in public and in private before writing, so this isn't a sucker punch. And it's clearly a painful task for the writer.

However, if you read these columns, what you may come away with is how a guy like Dungy forces us to reach inside ourselves and do some of our own self-examination. In both cases, the laudatory Pasquarelli and the critical Kravitz reflect on their own experiences in trying to articulate what the Dungy decision represents. Think about all the comings-and-goings of coaches. How many of those evoke this kind of reflection?

In that way, Tony Dungy continues to accomplish what he believes is really his life's work.

Photo credit: Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images


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