Jobs don’t come much more high pressured and demanding than head coaching positions in professional sports. Winning is often seen to be everything. So the legacy of NFL Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy stands out even more.
On his way to a Super Bowl championship at the helm of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony built a legacy – not just of excellence on the field – but of integrity, calm and collected communication, and leading first by example. The beloved football fixture explains where that counter-cultural makeup originated.
“I think it really comes from Christian maturity. My parents tried to instill that in me. I have to say I didn’t pick up on the lessons early! In my high school career, and for most of my college career, I wasn’t that calm, measured person. But as I grew older and matured, and as I learned more about Christ and grew as a Christian, then it started to come forward.”
Along with that spiritual growth came a practical realization.
“I certainly realized once I got in the public eye, on national television, that you transmit a lot just by the way you appear. And how you answer questions. And how you do things. If I was going to proclaim Christ and say that I’m a Christian, then I certainly needed to demonstrate it in those tough times.”
Tony & his wife Lauren have a real heart for ministering to young people – their brand new Team Dungy children’s books are a big part of that. As Lauren explains, the earlier we discover our real identity, the more centered and purposeful our lives become.
“Having our identity in Christ is so important. We’re rooted in Christ, and not what the world says or what friends think we should do and how we should act. We try to teach our children that same principle – so that they don’t waver in their faith and their walk because they’re not looking to the world to determine if they’re doing right. Public opinion changes from day to day! But Jesus loves us, and we are His children, and we are growing the kingdom of God. So we are not looking to the world for our satisfaction and approval.”
Tony says that truth really shaped the way they approached living in the spotlight.
“I think that’s probably the biggest lesson we learned being involved with professional sports. You can be the hero one day, and an outcast the next day. So if you rely on the media, the public, the fans to give you your sense of identity – you’re going to be an up and down person. So you have to rely on the Lord.”
Tony & Lauren Dungy are the husband and wife writing team behind the newly released children’s books Austin Plays Fair & Maria Finds Courage – the first entries in their Team Dungy series. Tony is an NFL Hall of Fame coach, a celebrated broadcaster & a New York Times best-selling author. Lauren is an early childhood educational specialist, best-selling author, and frequently sought-after speaker.