Tony Dungy Analyzes Vick, NFL And Leadership Tony Dungy retired as coach of the Indianapolis Colts just two seasons after winning the Super Bowl. Since then, he's worked as an NFL analyst, a motivational speaker — and now, as a writer. His new book is about the importance of mentoring, a task he took on with Michael Vick.
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Tony Dungy Analyzes Vick, NFL And Leadership

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Tony Dungy Analyzes Vick, NFL And Leadership

Tony Dungy Analyzes Vick, NFL And Leadership

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Michael Vick is preparing for another season with the Philadelphia Eagles. The quarterback returned to pro football last year after time in prison over charges related to dog fighting. Earlier this summer, Vick attended a nightclub the same night that a shooting took place. The Eagles' owner says Vick did nothing wrong but he shouldn't have been there.

One of the people counseling Vick is former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. Dungy is now author of a book called "The Mentor Leader," and he's with us once again.

Welcome back to the program.

TONY DUNGY: Well, thank you very much. It's wonderful being back on NPR.

INSKEEP: Well, you know, we put out a call for questions on Twitter and several people immediately said, how's his mentoring going with Michael Vick?

DUNGY: It's actually going well. Michael is a work in progress. I think he really is wanting to do the right thing. I think the Philadelphia Eagles have been a great organization for him. He's had some ups and downs. He still has to learn to not put himself in, maybe bad situations, in terms of personal life and friends, and that kind of thing. But all in all, I think he's growing every day.

INSKEEP: Do you mean that, now and again, you've had to talk to him about his personal life?

DUNGY: Well, I have and other people have. His mom has, his coach with Eagles, the commissioner, people just trying to help him stay directed and stay on the right path. And as a father of seven kids, and been a kid myself at one point, I realize you don't always make the best decisions every time out. And life is a learning experience.

INSKEEP: I was fascinated. You write about Chuck Noll, the great coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers who led them to four Super Bowls, and with whom you worked. And you say that he was a quiet guy, not very emotional, not a guy to give motivational speech, so he had to contract that out.

DUNGY: He did. He knew how he could help people. He was a teacher. He was a guy that was very good at selecting people, getting them to fit in. He wasn't the guy that was going to sit there and motivate you, intrinsically. That wasn't what he was best at. So he hired people that were good at that.

And he had a well-rounded staff that way. And that's part of I think being a good leader as well, recognizing your strengths and making sure you utilize them, but also recognizing your weaknesses and coming up with ways to overcome that.

INSKEEP: Did it take you a while, before you were a coach, to understand what that coach was doing, sitting quietly on the sidelines or standing quietly on the sidelines?

DUNGY: You know, I actually saw that, I wrote about another part of that in the book. My dad took me to a high school basketball game and this very, very famous coach in Michigan, by the name of Lofton Greene - he was a guy that my dad was familiar with. He was from our hometown. And I watched the game and I said I didn't see this guy doing a lot of coaching. And my dad told me, well, it's just like a teacher - which he was - he said if you do a good job teaching during the week, when they take the test on Friday, that's not the time you have to do a lot of demonstrative things.


DUNGY: You've taught them their work and you just sit there and watch the students take the test.

INSKEEP: I suppose if you are talking during test you haven't done your job.

DUNGY: You have some problems. You have some problems. And I've realized that. And once I got into coaching, that's the kind of coach that I wanted to be.

INSKEEP: Well, given that you told us when you retired, that you felt that the job had become a little too all-consuming for you. I'm curious what you think of a recent development, that when we put out this call for questions, here's a question that came in. What does he think of the talk in the NFL of extending the season? Instead of 16 regular season games, there would be 18. At least that's the discussion?

DUNGY: I am against it. And I know that the thought - right now we have four preseason games that people kind of view as meaningless. They would rather for the season to start, if you're playing the game, it should count. But I believe that those games help you, as a coach, make decisions and get your team ready to go. And 18 games is going to be a lot. It's going to put a lot of pressure - physical pressure on the players. And I think there could be some unintended consequences of lengthening the season.

INSKEEP: Well, let's make it clear here. The proponents of this are saying, okay, come on, we're just going to have fewer preseason games in order to have more regular season games. You're saying that's not an even trade.

DUNGY: It's not. The regular season games are much more intense. And also, I believe that in 16 games, some teams separate themselves. The good teams separate themselves from the not-so-good teams. The longer the season is, the bigger that separation will get.

You look at a team that may be has two wins and eight losses, and now they've got eight more games to play...

INSKEEP: Maybe they'd like to go back to a 14 game season at that point.

DUNGY: Yes, exactly. Exactly.


DUNGY: So then it's a financial issue. The players are saying, okay, if we're going to play two more games, we need more pay.

INSKEEP: Can't let you go without asking who you like to win the Super Bowl this year.

DUNGY: Well, I'm probably going to be an Indianapolis fan. And I think the Colts, they have Peyton Manning and they have a lot of weaponry. Jim Caldwell has done a great job keeping things going in the right direction. I think they'll be hungry after losing the Super Bowl.

New Orleans has a great team, but it's hard to repeat. And so, I'm kind of leaning towards the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC.

INSKEEP: Why is it so hard to repeat?

DUNGY: Well, what happens is you have s shorter off season because you have all the accolades coming to you from winning.


INSKEEP: All the distractions, sure.

DUNGY: All the distractions, that comes. And then the schedule gets you, because every team circles you on their schedule - you get everybody's best shot. So the combination of those two things, you have to really be focused to be able to deal with that and it becomes difficult.

INSKEEP: Tony Dungy, always a pleasure talking with you.

DUNGY: Well, it is wonderful to be back with you, and I look forward to doing it again. I hope I don't have to write a book, every time, to be on this show.


INSKEEP: You do not have to write a book every time. Come back any time.

DUNGY: Thank you.

INSKEEP: His new book is called "The Mentor Leader."

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