Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy has penned a new book reflecting on what it takes to achieve significance. In "Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance," the man who was the first and only African-American coach to win the Super Bowl reveals the lessons he's learned during his lenghty coaching career.
Read an excerpt of "Uncommon" below and find out about his book tour below.
In 1998, the Indianapolis Colts were confronted with a dilemma. Finishing the prior season with three wins
against thirteen defeats, they held the first pick in the NFL draft that April. Their selection would affect the direction of the team for years to come, positively or negatively. At the time, I was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so I was worried about my team in Tampa, and didn't realize what a huge impact the Colts' selection would have on my life. Bill Polian, president of the Colts, was faced with a difficult choice between two great talents: Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning. Both were big players with strong arms: Leaf had set numerous records at Washington State University, and Manning had done the same at the University of Tennessee. In hindsight, it seems like an obvious choice, but at the time there was plenty of debate. Media analysts and scouts around the league were split evenly, but Bill decided to select Manning. There was no question Peyton had the physical skills to be a great player, but what tipped the scales in Bill's mind were Peyton's work ethic, his love for the game, his approach toward football as a job, and his quiet private life. Ultimately, when faced with the choice that would define the course of the franchise, the Colts based that decision on character, and that choice has resulted in great success for us and for our future Hall of Fame quarterback.
For the Colts, character is a quality that can be measured
just like height, weight, and speed. In fact, we put more
emphasis on this area than we do on physical tools. Coaching
ability or talent cannot make up for a lack of character. In the
draft, there are only a few things that will knock a player out
of consideration for our team, and this issue of character is
one of them. We have a category on our evaluation form that
is labeled "DNDC"—Do Not Draft because of Character. Every
year, many players that we put in that category get drafted
in the first round by other teams, and some even go on to
become household names in the NFL. But we pass on them
because of something we see in their character that makes us
believe they are not worth the risk. Most of the time, we're
right. And those times when we are make it worth even those
times when we're not.
That's not necessarily the common approach today, though. So often there is such an emphasis on results that it doesn't matter how you get them. Moving up is more important than the way you move up. It doesn't matter what kind of person you are, just what kind of player you are. It doesn't matter if you follow the rules or break them, just as long as you come out on top. After all, that's what everyone will remember at the end of the day. That's why we have to have steroid testing in the NFL. That's why medals are forfeited in the Olympics. Competitors have to ask themselves: Since everyone is doing it, if I want to have a legitimate chance, I have to do it too, right?