Zennie62 on YouTube

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Anecdotes about son James Dungy provide fuller picture of Tony Dungy's loss

Commentary: Gary Shelton

LUTZ, Fla. -- Tony Dungy approached the lectern with a small smile. He said he was happy to be there. He opened with a joke about the preacher's verbosity.
Considering the body of Dungy's eldest son lay a few feet in front of him, it seemed Dungy was holding up better than his friends had feared.
Then Dungy's voice cracked, leaving him with a sound that was raw and wounded, and his face was so twisted it was possible to see the pain underneath. He stepped back, dabbing at hollow eyes with tissue, trying to gather himself before he could continue.
For 20 minutes, Dungy talked about faith and hope and loss, and several times, the emotions would visibly wash over him. Each time, he would step back, and the audience at Idlewild Baptist Church would applaud, as if to allow him time to overcome his emotions. Each time, Dungy would return to the microphone, trying to comfort those who came to comfort him.
How does a man find such strength? How does he share an agony so private with his public? How does he use faith as an answer when there are so many unanswered questions?
A man buried his son Tuesday, only five days after his death and only 18 years after his birth. A husband put his arm around his wife. A father embraced his other four children.
Away from the illusion of a game, away from the celebrity of his job, it is as simple as that. For the past week, that is who Dungy has been to the Tampa Bay community. It hardly matters that he is the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, or that he used to be the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, except that is how most of us came to know him.
Most of the 2,000 or so mourners who entered Idlewild were there because of Dungy's character, because most around here have a story or two about a decent man who has suffered an unimaginable loss. He is one of us, and for most of a week, those who live in the Tampa Bay area have wanted to put an arm around Dungy's shoulder.
There were no answers to what apparently drives a young man to suicide. There were only answers to why so many people miss Jamie Dungy so much.
He was a mama's boy. He loved the color pink and chicken quesadillas and put ketchup on almost everything. He liked stray dogs and old friends and practical jokes.
Dungy told the story about when Jamie was 7 and his father worked for the Minnesota Vikings. A player named Vencie Glenn had given Jamie a hat, and suddenly, Vencie, No. 25, was his buddy. The next year, the Vikings traded Glenn to the Giants.
On the first day of camp, Dungy saw his son in the dining room after the morning practice. Jamie seemed unhappy, and his father asked why. Jamie said he had followed No. 25 around all day, calling out his name, and Vencie ignored him.
"Son, that wasn't Vencie Glenn," Tony said. "That was Alfred Jackson."
McKay told one about Jamie being steamrolled by former Bucs quarterback Eric Zeier on the sideline. Jamie was looking away from the play when he glanced up at the scoreboard and saw the play coming toward him. He curled up just as Zeier and others plowed into him.
Pastor Jeffery Singletary told one about the fishing trip when a storm quickly developed. Most in the party were praying, Singletary said, when he heard the beep-beep of Jamie's video game. He also heard Jamie ask his father if it things were going to be all right.
"Things are going to be fine," Singletary remembers Tony saying.
In one of their final telephone conversations, Jamie told Tony the Colts were going to the Super Bowl, and he wanted to know if he could be on the sideline. Tony warned him about the difficulty of getting there, but yes, he said, there would be a spot for him on the sideline.
Together, the stories weave a more complete picture of Jamie Dungy. He quoted scripture. He was a polite kid.
"If you were nice to Jamie, you were his friend," Dungy said. "The other way was to look like you needed a friend."
The more you heard, the bigger the questions became about Jamie's final days. Was his pain deeper than most teenagers? Was his ability to cope with it less? We will never know.
Dungy said his son was searching for who that person was inside of him, who he was going to be.
"As he made that search, I knew he was never going to leave that compassionate, friendly, loyal, heartfelt roots," Dungy said. "But like a lot of teenage boys, I think he was hit with messages that maybe that's not the way boys are supposed to be. Like most of us, I think he went through a time as a teenager he wasn't sure his parents always had the best advice, that we always had his best interest at heart.
"My daughter Tiara said it best. She said, 'I just wish he could have made it to 20, because when you're 17 or 18, a lot of things your parents tell you don't make sense. At 20, they start to make sense again. I just wish he would have made it.' "
Again, Dungy's voice quaked. Again, he paused. Again, the audience applauded.
For most of Tampa Bay, Dungy quit being a football coach a long time ago. Instead, he was a neighbor, a man of grace and dignity.
Today, it would be nice if he could find a little peace.
Jamie, too.

Gary Shelton is a columnist for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

Owners approve Super Bowl for Kansas City

NFL.com wire reports
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 16, 2005) -- NFL owners voted to tentatively award Kansas City a Super Bowl, largely as a tribute to owner Lamar Hunt, who gave the game its name.

It comes with one giant string attached: improvements to Arrowhead Stadium, including a rolling roof to keep out the February cold. The team estimates the cost of the roof alone at $100 million to $200 million -- and that's not counting $300 million or so the Chiefs say they need in stadium upgrades.

The approval is for a 10-year window, starting in 2011, but Hunt said the most likely prospects would be for the 49th or 51st Super Bowl, after the 2014 or 2016 seasons.

"This is a very happy day, and in some respects a surprising day," he said at a news conference after the second day of the owners' two-day fall meeting adjourned. "This is something our organization has talked about for a number of years."

The team is now in lease negotiations with Jackson County and hopes to have a sales tax issue on the April ballot for Kansas City residents who live in the county. Last year, a bi-state sales tax proposal, for stadium improvements and arts in the area, failed to gain approval.

The Kansas City Royals, whose Kauffman Stadium sits across a parking lot from Arrowhead, would also have benefited from that tax.

The Chiefs, and other backers of stadium renovations, hope the prospect of landing an event with an estimated $400 million economic impact will provide enough reason to vote "yes" this time.

"The tremendous benefit to Kansas City, both in economic terms and prestige, are beyond calculation," Mayor Kay Barnes said in a written statement.

Jack Steadman, the Chiefs' vice chairman, said lease talks were to resume Nov. 17 and that he hoped they would be completed by December. He said the Chiefs would not specify their financial commitment to the project until negotiations were completed.

Hunt, a founding owner in the American Football League, gave the Super Bowl its name after it began simply as a matchup between the AFL and NFL champions.

"This decision is clearly an indication of the tremendous support the Chiefs have had from their fans in this area, and also the role of Lamar Hunt in the creation of the NFL today and the history of professional football."

Only three Super Bowls have been awarded to cold-weather cities. Detroit will host its second Super Bowl in February, and Minneapolis has hosted one.

"I think a one-off is a correct decision," Hunt said. "My request was for one game, in a 10-year window."

A rolling roof, which could be moved to cover either stadium, was part of the original plans for the Truman Sports Complex. It was designed only to keep out the rain, however.

Steadman said the new plan would allow panels to be lowered from the roof, to provide for a heated interior in cold weather.

"This is a new idea for an old concept," he said.

Visit the new Zennie62.com

Zennie62 blog net

Google Analytics Alternative