INDIANAPOLIS - Tony Dungy plans to return as Colts coach but left open the possibility of retirement following a season marked by the death of his 18-year-old son.
“I really don’t know how I’ll react the next few days,” he said Monday, a day after the Colts were eliminated from the playoffs. “I think I’ll be back. But it will really be the first time I’ve had to think about it.”
Dungy has been one of the NFL’s most successful coaches over the past decade. He’s reached the playoffs eight times, won three straight AFC South titles and taken teams to the AFC and NFC championship games.
This year, he won his 100th career game less than two weeks after he turned 50.
But Dungy has always been a family man first. After the Colts’ season ended with Sunday’s 21-18 loss to Pittsburgh, Dungy said he intends to spend the next few days watching movies, spending time with his wife and children and reflecting on the death of his oldest son, James.
That has created a genuine conflict in Dungy’s future plans.
“I think this will be the first time I’ll really get to reflect on things and not be on autopilot,” Dungy said. “So we’ll have to see what the next few days bring.”
Indianapolis certainly wants Dungy to return.
Most players praise Dungy for his faith, philosophy and the relationships he’s established. It was one of the reasons that safety Mike Doss grabbed the football after beating Arizona in the regular-season finale, Dungy’s first game back after his son’s death, sprinted to the sideline and gave Dungy a hug.
“We really try and play hard for Coach Dungy, everyone loves him,” defensive tackle Larry Tripplett said after that victory.
“That’s one of the blessings from my son’s situation is that it puts everything in perspective,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll get over this a lot quicker than I will my son. It’s a tough deal, but there are a lot more important things in scope of it than us not winning a Super Bowl.”
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