Dungy staying with Colts at least another year
Vail, CO Colorado
INDIANAPOLIS ” Tony Dungy is sticking with the Colts.
The team said Monday that Dungy will remain with Indianapolis through at least the 2008 season before turning over the coaching to hand-picked successor Jim Caldwell.
Dungy, the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, spent a week meeting with his family, close friends and trusted colleagues while deciding whether to return for a seventh season with the Colts.
“It was a family decision,” Dungy said. “We’re on board, and we look forward to ’08, look forward to putting together a winner.”
Team owner Jim Irsay said Dungy would stay at least one year and could stay longer.
“This isn’t a victory lap for Tony,” Irsay said.
It’s the third straight year Dungy seriously considered retiring.
The debate focused on Dungy’s desire to balance family and football, especially after his family moved back to Tampa earlier this month. His 16-year-old son Eric now attends high school there, and Irsay’s willingness to let Dungy spend more time in Florida was a factor in the decision.
Irsay has said Dungy could spend Friday nights there watching his son’s football games, but insisted the Colts job would be more than a part-time gig for Dungy.
Dungy said he decided he could give coaching and his family life the “passion” both deserved.
“I wouldn’t shortchange my family,” he said. “I wouldn’t come back if my wife or my children were not for it.”
Team president Bill Polian said the 53-year-old Caldwell would be named associate head coach.
Caldwell has spent the last seven seasons as Dungy’s assistant, one year in Tampa Bay and the last six with the Colts. Over the past year, Caldwell has become a regular on the interview circuit over the past year, meeting with the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens this month and the Arizona Cardinals last year about their vacancies.
Dungy’s 80 wins in Indianapolis, including the playoffs, are a franchise record, and he ranks fifth in victories among those who coached in 2007 with 136 career wins, which also include playoffs. He enters next season tied for 19th in career wins with Hank Stram.
The Colts season ended with a 28-24 loss to San Diego in last week’s AFC divisional playoff.
Before joining Indy, Dungy spent six seasons at Tampa Bay, becoming that team’s career-victory leader (54) while turning around one of the league’s worst franchises. Dungy led the Bucs to four playoff appearances and the 1999 NFC championship game.
For Dungy, life has always been about more than football. He became a fan favorite in Indy and Tampa, where he was arguably more popular after he left than when he was there.
But it isn’t just the fans who like him.
“We love coach Dungy,” NFL defensive player of the year Bob Sanders said last week. “We’ll let him make the decision, then we’ll know and then we’ll go from there. But we love him around here.”