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Tony Dungy Retires; Calls Time With Colts 'Awesome, Special'

Jan 12, 2009 – 6:15 PM
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Ryan Wilson

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"You dream about having the kind of relationship with a head coach that I've head with Tony." That's how Colts owner Jim Irsay described Tony Dungy, who officially announced his retirement this afternoon.

The news was hardly surprising -- Dungy has contemplated walking away from the game in previous years -- although I can't remember a more emotional press conference. It says a lot about Dungy's impact on the organization, the community, and the league. "I can't thank him enough. I know he's pushed me as a man and made me a better person," Irsay offered.

President Bill Polian, voice cracking as he read from a script, added that "We'll miss his faith, we'll miss his optimism, will miss his patience ... all of which contributes to that Dungy magic. ... What an honor it was to reach the ultimate goal with a man who did it the right way."

As for what the 53-year-old Dungy plans to do with himself:

"I think I've got a chance to do some other things down the road. I think I've got a responsibility to be home a little bit more, to be available to my family a little bit more, and to try to do some things to help make our country better. And I don't know what that's going to be, but ... I wouldn't trade these 31 years [in the NFL] for anything. I wouldn't trade these seven that I've had here [in Indianapolis]; this has been very, very special, and all of you have been part of it. ... It's been awesome, it's been special."

The Colts have already named a successor -- longtime assistant Jim Caldwell. And as MDS wrote this morning, Dungy was motivated to retire now in part because he wanted Caldwell to inherit a strong team. In fact, he told the media that, "In my personal opinion, if Jim Irsay was looking for a coach and interviewed all these guys I'm seeing interviewed, he would interview Jim Caldwell and say that's the best guy out there."

Given that the Colts have won at least ten games since Dungy's arrival in 2002 -- including seven playoff appearances and one Super Bowl victory -- and that Peyton Manning is healthy and motivated, I'd say Caldwell is taking over at a pretty good time.

Inevitably, Dungy was asked about the possibility he might return to coaching at some point in the future. His response: never say never.
Filed under: Sports