I'm back in the great Hoosier state for the weekend, celebrating Christmas. I was given the opportunity to play in my high school's alumni basketball game this evening and generally have had an opportunity to kick back and enjoy time with the family. I wanted to offer a quick note about a Washington Post column on the one-year anniversary of the death of Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy's son. Michael Wilbon is one of the most talented sports columnists in the country and he typically is right on the mark with his material.
I say this because his piece on Dungy was vague on matters of faith. Normally this would not be a big deal in a piece on an NFL coach, but remember how the stories on the death of James Dungy were saturated with religion? The column does not explicitly ignore the faith angle, but the change in coverage got me thinking:
[Peyton] Manning smiled at the thought of talking to his coach as he does his stretching, which apparently happens often. Dungy almost always leads those conversations. Last week, Dungy talked about the death of Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, the force behind the creation of the AFL and its merger with the NFL. Manning thought about the many Saturdays over recent seasons when Dungy inquires about players' pregnant wives and ill parents or children in school assemblies. "He's always there for us," Manning said.
"I think of the Saturdays when he's checking up on all of our families, asking us if we need something or if he can help with something.
"But who can relate to what Tony and his family are going through? We all feel for them and want to be there for them. But the only people, really, who can relate to this are people who have been through something similar. . . . I know this. He's got such a wonderful, tight-knit family, and his faith is so strong. . . . I know I just want to be there for him if I can."
Perhaps it did not need to be explicit the way it was a year ago. The news a year ago was different. As you can see from Manning's quotes, the faith aspect of Dungy's life shines throughout the piece. It's not in the lede, or featured throughout as it was a year ago, but it's there, as you can see in Wilbon's words:
Winning may get them through this week leading up to Christmas, but it's going to be much more difficult than that for Tony and Lauren Dungy and their five children. It's going to take the same faith they relied upon last year and hugs from friends, players and acquaintances. Probably, it's at a time like this when a coach most appreciates his team and when his players know that, in this case, being there is the most important -- and only -- thing they can do.
The faith aspect is subtle and reflective. You can't ignore it. And perhaps that's the way it should be?
Since I won't be posting again until at least Monday, Merry Christmas, everyone.