As a 13-year-old boy — growing up in Jackson, Michigan, in 1968 — Tony Dungy began to question the world around him.
Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy had both been assassinated.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two African-Americans and U.S. Olympians, each raised a black-gloved fist during the playing of the national anthem at their medal ceremony in Mexico City.
Dungy sought the advice of his father, a schoolteacher, as he searched for answers.
“He told me that I had to do what I felt in my heart was going to make the situation better,” Dungy said. “In our house, we were going to treat people with love, respect, and dignity — and not return hate for hate.”
Dungy has never forgotten his father’s words and still leans on them to this day, especially given the issues of racial justice that have plagued America since the unlawful deaths of George Floyd and others this past summer.
The Super Bowl-winning NFL player and coach — and now one of the lead analysts on NBC’s Football Night in America — visited (virtually) with a group of more than 50 Brunswick faculty members on Tuesday, Nov. 17, to promote excellence in coaching and to share his teaching philosophies.
The Zoom Q&A was facilitated by Peter Bevacqua ’89, who serves as Chairman of NBC Sports Group.
“He’s our moral compass,” Bevacqua said. “When you think about this pandemic and all the social-justice issues that have come to light — and the role that sports played in trying to help our country get through them — Tony is the person we’ve relied upon at NBC to guide us through these difficult times.”
Dungy encouraged ’Wick coaches to build relationships with their players, to get to know them and understand what makes them tick, and to help each capitalize on his strengths and improve his weaknesses — a recipe that he never wavered from during his 28 successful years (calmy and stoically) manning the sidelines in the NFL.
“To you coaches, understand that you have a marvelous platform to help shape young people,” Dungy concluded. “Use that platform well to help them become better people and players, as you’re molding the next generations of leaders.”