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Commentary: Dungy's book a real eye-opener

October 29, 2007

I watched the Indianapolis Colts' Oct. 22 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars with a sense of calm I'd never experienced before while watching a Colts game.

It wasn't because I was certain they were going to win-far from it-or because I had been sedated. It was because I had just read Coach Tony Dungy's best-seller, "Quiet Strength."

No, I wasn't "born again" while reading. But I was given a much better idea of how Dungy works and how things are with the Colts and in the NFL. The book put the games and the seasons in perspective.

In the past, I always found myself getting riled up. If the Colts are so great, why aren't they beating these guys by six touchdowns? If Peyton Manning is so awesome, why did he just throw that stupid interception?

The point is: You've got to take each season a game at a time; each game, a play at a time.

Honestly, I hadn't planned to read "Quiet Strength," mostly because the religious slant of the book was a bit of a turn-off for me. Sports are sports, religion is religion, and ne'er the twain shall meet.

But on a recent vacation, my traveling companion had a copy she hadn't started yet. I had finished my own book, and after coming up empty-handed at a bookstore for a follow-up, I picked up the coach's memoir.

I had grown curious and, in light of our upcoming Oct. 30 breakfast event with The Coach, I thought it might be a good idea to bone up on Dungy and his life. (Hey, I didn't get to this position by being stupid.)

What a wonderful surprise. I learned a lot and enjoyed the book immensely.

First off, Dungy is a class act. I realize this is not a news flash, but his book showed me firsthand just how strong his faith is and how it has been integral to his survival and success-from the death of his son to his team's victory in the Super Bowl.

Dungy doesn't just talk the talk; he walks the walk.

One of the key tenets of his philosophy is this: Don't let all the noise-i.e., the media hype, the rumor mill, a bad game-distract you from your mission. Pay attention to the details and what's in front of your face. Work on being your best, and you'll do well.

From a football perspective, his book shows how many working parts go into building a winning team. It's not just about a great quarterback or a great defensive end. It's about a multitude of things-from giveaway/takeaway ratios to special teams.

Most important, I learned that great teams can make bad plays, have bad games, and look stupid upon occasion. Nobody's perfect. What's important is how you learn from your mistakes and how you handle adversity.

Recent history with the Jaguars is a case in point. Last December, the Colts got smoked 44-17 in Jacksonville. They went on to become Super Bowl champions several weeks later and this season marched back into Jacksonville to beat the Jags on their home turf decisively.

That kind of resilience and perseverance is a byproduct of Dungy's philosophies and leadership style. "Quiet Strength" is a chronicle of how it has worked for him and how it came to be.

As we approach the sure-to-be-overhyped Nov. 4 matchup with the New England Patriots, the "noise" will be deafening. But it boils down to this: All things being equal, whichever team executes its plan the best will win the game.

The Colts may lose, but I know one thing for sure. This time, if they do lose, I won't count them out. It's just another game in the schedule, and there is always tomorrow to make things right.

I have to thank The Coach for giving me that kind of attitude.



Katterjohn is publisher of IBJ. To comment on this column, send e-mail to ckatterjohn@ibj.com.
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