Former Colts coach Dungy still busy, outspoken in retirement

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tony Dungy is busier than ever, even though he's no longer coaching the Indianapolis Colts.

In the past few weeks, he has met with former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick at a federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., been involved with an education project in St. Louis and attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes function for flood relief in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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On Wednesday, Dungy returned to Indianapolis to be the keynote speaker at a workshop for ex-offenders seeking jobs. That's a typical workload for him since he stepped down in January.

"I'm doing way more than I thought I would be, and maybe more than I should," Dungy told The Associated Press. "That's one of the fun things about not being tied down to an NFL schedule. You have time to take a day to go wherever. To be able to say I can go here on this day and work on this project, that's been the fun part of it."

Dungy became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, the first coach to make 10 straight playoff appearances and the first to win at least 12 games in six straight seasons. His regular-season winning percentage of .668 is fifth all-time among coaches with at least 100 wins and his 10.7 regular-season wins per year is tops among that group.

Dungy said he misses his colleagues, but not coaching. He visited the Colts' practice complex Tuesday to reconnect with friends.

"You have about 75 people, coaches, players and staff, that you talk to every single day," Dungy said. "They are friendships. You kind of miss having that. But the actual practices and all that -- I'm sure I'll miss it in the fall, but right now, I'm busy, and doing a lot of things I'm enjoying."

He enjoys helping troubled young men, and Vick, in Dungy's eyes, is simply one of them. Vick is serving a 23-month sentence for bankrolling a dogfighting conspiracy. Dungy wouldn't offer details about his meeting with Vick, but compared the quarterback's situation to many of the ex-offenders at the resource fair Wednesday.

"I think Michael is just like so many other guys that I have seen, so many other people who are nameless, faceless in that environment," Dungy said. "It's a young man that made a mistake and is looking for a chance to recover and move forward. That's where he is and that's where so many of the men who are here today are."

Dungy has been so successful in helping others that President Barack Obama wanted him to serve on a 25-person roster that is part of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Dungy declined, but said he still will be involved with President Obama's work.

"I think I'm going to be involved on some family initiative projects," he said. "It's something I really wanted to do, but I kind of looked at the schedule that I had and the amount of time that I'm on the road and the projects I already lined up. That was the conflict."

Dungy was honored to be considered.

"I can't even fathom it, really," he said. "He (Obama) said he wanted me involved in the fatherhood part of the program because he knew I was passionate about that. Just to know that the President would feel like you could be helpful -- that was quite humbling and gratifying."

Dungy's invitation was questioned by some because he supported efforts in Indiana to ban same-sex marriage in 2007, prompting some criticism from liberal groups when the invitation was made public.

Dungy reiterated his beliefs Wednesday when he spoke out against criticism that Miss California, Carrie Prejean, has received since she said during the Miss USA pageant last month that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

"I respected her for saying what was on her mind, rather than saying, 'Well, I'm in this pageant and if I say the wrong thing, will it cause me to not win?' Dungy said. "She answered honestly, according to her convictions. I think we're wrong to not credit people like that."

Dungy said he expected much of the publicity after her statement to be negative.

"I'm not surprised," he said. "I was proud of her for stating her opinion and letting people decide how they wanted to respond to that. She has a belief, just like I have a belief, and I believe I should be able to say that. That doesn't mean everybody has to agree, but if you ask my opinion, I should be able to state it."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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