A Day After Playoff Loss, Dungy Says He Will Discuss Future With Family
INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Dungy said the process has started.
And while the Colts' head coach said on Sunday that process will continue in the coming days, he said the same thing is true as has been true the last three seasons.
He doesn't yet know his coaching future.
Dungy, whose seventh season as the Colts' head coach concluded Saturday with a 23-17 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game in San Diego, has contemplated retirement the last three off-seasons, returning each season.
As he did on Saturday, he said on Sunday afternoon he will consider his options again in the coming week.
"I have not," Dungy said Sunday when asked if he has made a decision. "I didn't expect to be having this press conference today. I didn't expect to be thinking about it today, but we'll start that process, probably right after we get done with this press conference.
"We'll figure out we're going to do and as soon as we know, we'll let you know."
Dungy's status has been the subject of much speculation each of the past three off-seasons, and last off-season, the Colts promoted Jim Caldwell to Associate Head Coach.
"He (Dungy) hasn't said he's leaving as of yet," Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett said. "Last year, a lot of people counted on him leaving and he came back. I know that he loves the game of football. I know that he continues to love this game. Whether or not he wants to coach, we'll see."
Said Colts center Jeff Saturday, "I'm not even going to go there. Whatever he decided to do, I'll suphim 100 percent. For he and his wife and family, that's his business. Whatever decisions he makes in the next weeks, I'll answer those questions when they come."
Dungy said the factors in his decision remain the same as past seasons, and he said Sunday he believes it important to not make a decision too quickly following a season.
And he said that's true whatever the result of the final game.
"You're always disappointed on this day, whenever you lose – whether it's Wild Card, Championship Game, Super Bowl," Dungy said. "There's a disappointment you have to let go of. The year we won (the Super Bowl following the 2006 regular season), there was kind of an emotional high that you had to come down off of."
Coaching burnout, Dungy said, isn't an issue.
"I enjoy it," Dungy said. "I had fun this year. I had a great deal of fun. I enjoy watching our young guys improve. I enjoy everything that goes with being a head coach. I couldn't have a better situation than I have here – better ownership. I know we're going to get players and that (Colts President) Bill (Polian) is going to do everything we can to win. It's not that at all."
Dungy said he and his wife, Lauren, will discuss the matter.
"We'll pray about it and see what options we have, and kind of where the Lord's leading," Dungy said. "There are family issues and other things you'd like to do, but the bottom line is we have a fun team to coach. We have some great players and we have a team that I know can win. I still enjoy it. We'll try to balance those two and see what happens. . . .
"I'm going to spend the next few days with my wife, then once we decide what we're going to do, I'll let (Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer) Jim (Irsay) and Bill know."
Dungy's son, Eric, was a sophomore safety for Tampa (Fla.) Plant High School's state championship team this season.
"It was good," Dungy said. "This year went well. I had fun watching my son play. They spent a lot of time up here on the weekends. It was actually time-wise better than the first two years I was here. That part of it, I know is doable. That really wasn't a problem."
Dungy said primary among his post-football plans is working on a more hands-on basis with young males.
"We've got such a crisis right now," Dungy said. "I get to talk with young guys occasionally and I just think there are some more things I could do hands-on to help, but the other side of the coin is you have a great platform as the coach of an NFL team. You have to balance that out."
Brackett said Colts players likely will reach out to Dungy to encourage him to stay.
"But I don't think that has anything to do with it," Brackett said. "He's definitely a family man, so it's more so to his family to decide. Obviously, he knows we would love to have him here. We definitely wanted to end him out right, but we just want to continue to play well.
"He definitely knows what he's doing and it has shown over the years."
Said Dungy, "I'm happy they would say that, especially at this time of year after you lose a game. I know how those guys feel about me and I know how I feel about them. That's one of the reasons why I'm still here, because five years ago I probably had the same feeling, but we've got such a great group that it is hard to leave those guys and it would be hard.
"That's good to know, but I don't think it's necessary."