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Book Review – Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy
Many people know Tony Dungy as the NFL head coach who took Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl in 2007. You may also know from watching him on television as an announcer and just from watching his mannerisms that he is a decent guy. But many of us have no idea about his upbringing and the people and experiences that made him who he is today. Quiet Strength is a memoir which was written after Dungy’s super bowl victory and one of the most impactful years of his life.
The book takes us through Tony’s life in chronological order, starting with his childhood and home life. Dungy had two straight-forward, moral parents. He mentions in his book how they instilled a sense of calmness in him and the difference between right and wrong. Dungy always says that when he is frustrated or wants to confront someone, he must think back to what his dad used to tell him, and figure out if yelling out will accomplish anything and actually make his situation better. You can tell from the beginning of the book that Dungy is, and always has been a family man.
As a teenager, Tony was an excellent athlete. He played varsity high school basketball and football. As a tall, slender, muscular young man, he excelled in basketball and was actually a quarterback on the football team. He was so good in fact that he went on to play football at the University of Minnesota. Dungy played a solid four years for the Golden Gophers and thought that he had a solid chance of playing in the NFL. One thing though, he did not have the typical build or college statistics of a NFL quarterback and would have to work his way onto a professional team the hard way. He was skeptical about getting drafted, and his suspicions proved to be right as he never received a call from a pro team. However, the Steelers eventually gave him a chance and signed him as a free agent to play in their defensive backfield.
Dungy made the most of his time at the Steelers organization. He felt comfortable in Pittsburg because the ownership was more like a family to him than just a boss. He made the team as a defensive back due to his smaller size and won a Super Bowl during the short time he was there. Dungy happened to be playing for the very best team of that time and ended up with a ring during one of his three years as a player. Although he did play pro football, he knew his days in the NFL were limited and needed to think of another job he could perform once his playing days had ended. As an intelligent young man who had experience as both a quarterback and defensive back, he was in a unique position to become an excellent coach.
Tony held several coaching jobs for teams such as the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the NCAA, and the Pittsburg Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings in the NFL. Dungy knew all of the right people at the teams he used to play for and they accelerated him on his coaching career due to his diligence and character. His first head coaching job came after several years of being a coordinator and assistant coach. The Glazers, owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hired him as their head coach. The Glazers and Dungy had a great relationship throughout his entire career in Tampa Bay. They fully supported him and his straight-forward ideas about running a complete football team. Dungy ended up bringing his team to the NFC championships several years in a row, but could never quite reach the biggest game. The Glazers therefore decided to release Coach Dungy. Not only did he get fired, but his coaching staff did as well. This is what bothered Tony the most; he had a feeling that he could find another job in the NFL, but he had an awful time knowing his assistant coaches, hand-picked by Coach Dungy himself, may not have such a future.
Not long after being fired from the Buccaneers’ organization and not know what God had planned for him, Coach Dungy returned home one day to find a message from the owner of the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts owner told him that he recently fired his coach, and knew that Tony would be the perfect fit for the head coaching job in Indianapolis. Tony and his new boss would develop a football team as part of the community, not just to win games. Tony’s ideas of morality, self-accountability, and family-first for his football players would work well in Indianapolis.
Coach Dungy inherited an exceptional offense in Indianapolis, lead by Peyton Manning. The defense needed work and confidence, but with Dungy’s help, they were quickly playing on a whole different level. The team started to make the playoffs every year where they usually encountered their rivals, the New England Patriots. The Patriots usually got the best of the Colts, but not in 2007. Dungy won nearly all of his regular season games, beat everyone in the playoffs, and then destroyed the Chicago Bears in the NFL Super Bowl. Coach Dungy became the first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl, and instantly knew he had to apply his knowledge and fame to make the world a better place. Dungy knew that as a successful black man with such an important title and a world championship to his name, he could make an impact.
Tony Dungy has always been an extremely busy man, working seven days a week, usually with only a few hours sleep. However, he always has found the time to do charitable work. This includes church work, starting charitable organizations with his wife, Lauren, and running All Pro Dad. This organization focuses on making fathers all across the nation into better people, and to teach these men to be there for their kids. The concept is simple, yet profoundly important. Imagine how many kids in this world do not know who their fathers are and how they do not have a male presence in their life. All Pro Dad teaches fathers and even male figures to be role models to the younger people in the world.
While Coach Dungy has shown himself to be a great man and a noble person, it is what he does behind the scenes that truly makes him great; he puts his family first and always makes them his number one priority. Not only do Tony and Laura have numerous kids of their own, they have started to adopt. Since they are in such a fortunate position in the world and financially well-off, they have made better lives for black orphan children. Anyone who has children knows that they can be a blessing, but difficult at times. Often in life children can bring incredible happiness, but also sad moments as well. The first child Tony and Laura adopted is missing a critical gene which would allow him to feel pain. Since the child cannot feel pain, his parents must watch the child at all times to make sure he is not doing anything which may unknowingly harm him.
Most of Coach Dungy’s book is uplifting and has a positive vibe, but there is a part of the book which takes the reader by surprise. During Dungy’s 2007 championship season, he received a call in the middle of the night. Everyone knows that middle of the night calls are never good, and this call was heart breaking; Coach Dungy’s son, Jamie, had committed suicide. Dungy says repeatedly that he will never know what caused Jamie to take his own life, but he knows that Jamie had placed God first in his life and is undoubtedly in Heaven now. It is very sad to read about terrible things that happen to such great people, but Dungy put a positive spin on the situation. He said that Jamie blessed their lives for eighteen years and he should be remembered for all the joy he brought. Jamie never had an enemy and made friends very easily. From what Tony Dungy wrote about Jamie, it is very clear that Jamie was just as good of a person as his father.
After reading Coach Dungy’s memoir, one thing is evident: Coach Dungy lives his life for God. Life will put you through the highest of high moments and the lowest of lows. The thing that makes us all different and special is how we react to these situations. Dungy has learned to persevere through the tough spots in life and to stay modest through the championship-caliber moments. Tony Dungy is a role-model for everyone and we all can learn a positive lesson from reading his book. This book is rated 5 out of 5.
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