Since retiring in January, Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy has been busy, speaking across the country.
While speaking is something Dungy is passionate in, he’s been offered numerous jobs — one was a liaison position with the NFL, and another was a position on a faith-based neighborhood partnership council that the White House invited him to be on. However, Dungy’s heart is in prison, where he spends time talking and counseling with inmates.
In a recent interview with USA Today, the former head coach explained why he’s so passionate about his current job.
“The first time I came, I was so nervous,” Dungy said. “But then I saw how young and impressionable a lot of these guys are. We could sit down and talk … about life, about sports or whatever. It’s deep. The main thing is to give these guys a little hope. But this is also a gospel message. It’s changing on the inside.”
Dungy’s goal is to make a social impact that stretches beyond family and football, especially with the youth. According to USA Today’s story, 10% of African-American males ages 18-24 are in prison.
“We have to change the direction we’re going,” the coach said. “And it’s got to start with the young people. We’ve got to put the emphasis back on education. There’s a 67% chance that if you don’t have a high school diploma, you’re going to end up incarcerated. So the whole thing is really starting with the decisions these kids are making in fifth, sixth and seventh grade about education. Then we don’t have the family structures, where parents are guiding these kids. We’ve got to break that cycle.”
He’s putting his money where his mouth is too. He recently donated $50,000 Tampa-based Abe Brown Ministries, whose ministry includes a food bank and an aggressive re-entry program that can accommodate as many as 10 former prisoners, when their tour bus crash.
Dungy hopes that any attention focused on his prison ministry will resonate with young people who need to look past the glorification of a prison culture that has become more prevalent in movies, music and video games.
“That’s the message,” Dungy says. “Young people need to understand the consequences and ramifications of decisions they make at a very young age.”
What about football though? The former coach says he is pretty oblivious to what’s going on in the off-season — which usually includes free agent signings, trades, etc — and spends time with his family. At present time, he doesn’t feel he will return to the NFL.
“I’d really be surprised if I’m back,” he said.
Read the full piece on Dungy at USAToday.com.