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Posted on Mon. Feb. 10, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Former Colts coach Dungy eager to visit Fort Wayne

Tony and Lauren Dungy will have Tuesday book signing

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Dungy book signing

Tony and Lauren Dungy will sign their book, "Uncommon Marriage," at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Family Christian Store in Coldwater Crossing, 5509 Coldwater Road.

For more on the NFL, follow Reggie Hayes via Twitter at www.twitter.com/reggiehayes1

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Tony Dungy's connection to Fort Wayne came long before his suggestion the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears should have played Super Bowl XLI here instead of traveling to Miami.

The year was 1987 and the Pittsburgh Steelers sent assistant coach Dungy to Fort Wayne to try to talk draft pick Rod Woodson into ending a holdout and signing a deal.

“He was considering whether to run track or play football, so I came out and talked with him,” Dungy said. “There's another Hall of Famer that I was able to coach. I was always glad we had that conversation.”

Dungy, of course, would eventually become coach of the Colts, leading the team to a Super Bowl title built around quarterback Peyton Manning and a number of great players.

Upon retirement, Dungy has made a number of book-promotion appearances in Fort Wayne. He will return with his wife, Lauren, to promote their new book, “Uncommon Marriage,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Family Christian Store in Coldwater Crossing Shopping Center, 5509 Coldwater Road.

“We had so many fans who came down from Fort Wayne and supported us with the Colts,” Dungy said. “I've been up there for a couple different projects and I always get a really, really warm reception.”

It would have been nice if Dungy could have made this appearance as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he was not voted in after making the list of 15 finalists this season.

One of his former players with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, linebacker Derrick Brooks, did make the cut. Another former Buc, John Lynch, did not.

But Dungy was most surprised by the fact former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison was not inducted.

“If ever a guy had a career that demonstrated he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, it was Marvin,” Dungy said. “I was disappointed he didn't get in. …I don't know how they could not vote for Marvin Harrison.”

Dungy said he hopes to receive enough votes in the future, along with Harrison and Lynch.

Dungy's successes, however, have opened up a number of platforms for him to continue to work and produce. In addition to his analyst work for NBC, he continues to work with All Pro Dad and to write books.

His latest book, a collaboration with his wife, is his first book dealing with the subject of marriage.

The book is written in conversational style, as Tony and Lauren Dungy reflect on their lives together as spouses and parents. They discuss the highs and lows, and points where they agreed and disagreed.

“Lauren and I both thought it would be a good idea and could be an encouragement to people,” Dungy said. “The things we've faced, so much of them are common to what everyone goes through. We try to encourage people that if you work together and stay committed, and keep the Lord first, you can have a lasting marriage.

“Marriage is still a great institution,” he said. “It takes work but it's something that we need – that stability and life foundation for our country.”

Dungy's influence in the NFL continues to be strong even in his post-coaching career. Two of his former assistant coaches recently were hired for their second head coaching jobs: Lovie Smith returned to Tampa, where he had coached with Dungy; and Jim Caldwell, who worked with Dungy in Indianapolis and succeeded him when he retired, takes over in Detroit.

Dungy's home is in Tampa, so he has a special interest in Smith taking over the Bucs.

“I'm really excited for them to get second chances and to get second chances with good, talented teams,” Dungy said. “I think Lovie is going to do very well down in Tampa. We haven't had a buzz in the city like we have now for a while.

“Coach Caldwell going to Detroit, I think he's going to be perfect for them,” he said. “They need a little discipline and he'll do that. I think he'll work well with (quarterback) Matthew Stafford. I wouldn't be surprised if both of those guys make the playoffs, even though they're in the same conference.”

Dungy said he always enjoys returning to Indiana and reconnecting with Colts fans.

“I still speak with a lot of people in that organization, including (owner) Jim Irsay,” Dungy said. “I still have those roots, and those will never leave.”

rhayes@news-sentinel.com


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