When Tony Dungy leaves a Buccaneer practice, he goes home to his most important job
They don't have a schedule They won't be donning uniforms or playing in a stadium this fall. They are, in fact, still looking for more players. Nevertheless, this is one team that's ready for action.
It's the All Pro Dad Team, so you might say this Sunday is their Super Bowl. The All Pro Dad Team is a powerful combination of NFL greats gathered together to focus on a single goal: to help men become better fathers.
The head coach of the All Pro Dad Team is a man familiar with the role: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Tony Dungy. Neither position is as important as his primary role of being a father to four, Tiara, James, Eric and Jordan. This weekend, Dungy's family will thank him for all that he does with a special Father's Day trip to Orlando.
To the Bucs' coach, however, Father's Day is more about being a son than a dad, as he remembers all he has learned from his own father, Wilbur Dungy. Now a proud and loving father of his own family, Dungy has come to realize the magnitude of the role.
"Coaching the Bucs is a big job," said Dungy, "but not nearly as big a job as being a dad."
Family First, a non-profit group based in Tampa, came up with the idea for the All Pro Dad Team after years of research into the epidemic of father absence. "There are so many men who are not connecting with their children," said Mark Merrill, president of Family First. "We wanted to get their attention and help them refocus on their family. What better way to do that than to let them hear from men whom they respect. Men who excel in both the sports world and the parenting world."
Among those men, Coach Dungy has some familiar company. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer are also on the All Pro Dad Team. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell, NFL Hall-of-Famer and U.S. Congressman Steve Largent, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna, and Kansas City Chiefs kicker Todd Peterson are the latest recruits to the All Pro Dad.
Fathers can hear from the All Pro Dad Team by visiting allprodad.com. There, they'll find fathering tips from the Team members, and other resources like books, tapes and articles that can help them become better dads. There is even an on-line survey that shows dads their field position in the "game" of fathering.
Dungy and Christensen have long been supporters of Family First. During the Buccaneers' 2000 training camp, the two Buccaneer coaches joined the organization at University of Tampa's Pepin-Rood Stadium after an afternoon practice to promote Father-Child Day to a packed crowd. At the time, they shared their priorities, with parenting squarely at the top. Christensen echoed those thoughts this week.
"Working as a coach in the NFL has been incredibly exciting, challenging and demanding but it doesn't compare to the responsibility, effort and fulfillment of trying to be a top flight dad," he said. "I have had the opportunity to work with world-class athletes at the top of their profession, and see the hard work and effort it takes. The All Pro Dad Team can help fathers experience the joy of making it to the top of their most important occupation."