Retired NFL head coach and African-American hall of famer Tony Dungy wants dads kicking dad-goals into the endzone.

The 66-year-old author, father of 11 children, and NBC gridiron analyst is also the co-founder of All Pro Dad, a non-profit branch of pro-marriage outreach Family First.

In his 2016 hall-of-fame acceptance speech, Dungy (pronounced: Dun-gee) credited his head coach, the late Denny Green, for some of his ‘All Pro Dad’ skills.

All-Round Champions

Dungy recalled how Green taught his team that being a dad and playing professional football didn’t have to clash; they could be great dads and still win on the field.

Green did this by ensuring his “assistance coaches had quality time with their families.”

 

“Making sure,” Dungy said, that “we were able to be husbands and fathers as well as coaches.”

Remembering how this worked in practice, Dungy gave the example of Green allowing him to bring his “boys to camp to be around their dad.”

Dungy said a lot of the credit comes down to his upbringing, which was grounded in the faith and determination of his parents:

“My dad always preached to us to set our goals high and not complain about negative circumstances. Just look for a way to make things better.”

He adds,

“My mom taught us as a Christian, your character, your integrity and how you honour God were so much more important than your job title.”

Alongside the true grit of his dad and mum Wilbur and Cleomae Dungy, Tony lifted up his wife and kids, crediting his success to their fair share of sacrifices.

It’s this nurtured link between Dungy’s vocation as a father and his career in the NFL that fuels the mission to coach dads into being better fathers.

The end game is to coach men into the All Pro Dad endzone — finding a great dad, and great career balance.

Pro-active Fathers

Inspired as he is, by men who never “complained about the lack of opportunities,” but chose to “find ways to make the situation better”, Dungy is about building men up to be successful dads.

Men like Dungy’s father and those Dungy has worked with over the years, who opted to live in a world of pro-active solutions built on support and self-reflection, not selfishness, sin, victimhood, regret and woe.

 

Cited by a Tampa Bay Times article in 2015, Dungy said, they started All Pro Dad in 1997, “expecting only 100 dads to show; 4,000 showed up.”

Enter the 2020s, and for an hour each month, the organisation runs chapters bringing dads and kids together at schools to engage in ‘memory-making events;’ providing a platform for ‘meaningful conversations, and activities centred around a character-based curriculum.’

Dungy’s fatherhood coaching involves day events, using football as the means to bring dads, and their kids together.

Last year, Dungy asserted to NBC,

“We know that if men are engaged in the lives of their kids, it’s going to be better for them. This helps families and the schools in the long run.”

All Pro Dad is an obvious success, evidenced by how dads are owning the vision for themselves.

Dungy explains,

“Some are seeing their kids getting off busses daily; where others took on security at ballgames. They’ve taken it to a whole new level.”

An all-important wider theme present here is the disconnect of the stereotypical father driving his kids into fatherlessness because of his escape into football.

All Pro Dad is another example of strong men smashing the slothful, inconvenience-free, beer o’clock binge around a televised football match.

Dungy puts fathers on the field to be mentors. In the process, he destroys the deified image of the lazy lounge lizard, the bitter and disinterested father figure.

I well remember as a young man growing up in a poorer class housing commission estate here in Australia. I witnessed firsthand how family can be replaced by football.

I’ve seen both sides and concluded that the joys and challenges of fathering far outweigh the cost of safely spectating from the sidelines.

I would rather play sport than watch it.

Far better to be attentive and involved, than disinterested and disengaged.

The All-Pro Dad life is not a spectator sport.

To quote Coach Dungy,

“I’m just as guilty. I didn’t spend nearly as much time with my kids as I would have liked, but I brought my kids to work. When I could I spent time with them doing things that they enjoyed doing and it is meaningful it’s not easy but it’s the best thing we can do for our kids.”

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Photo: Joni B. Hannigan/Baptist Press

Published On: June 17th, 20220 CommentsTags: , ,

About the Author: Rod Lampard

Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.

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