Colts' owner and CEO Jim Irsay
"Good afternoon. I am here to announce the retirement of Tony Dungy. The guess the word ‘bittersweet' is used sometimes in terms of describing moments in time. I knew this day would come at some point. It always does in life when time rolls along. Nothing stays the same and things change. It's been an incredible journey. As an owner, I think that you dream about having the kind of relationship with a head coach that I've had with Tony.
"Through the history of our league for 90 years, coaches and owners have had special relationships. I can remember in 2002, when Tony and I spoke on the phone and he was in Florida and I was here and we had a long conversation. We really talked about what we wanted to do moving forward and what we wanted to achieve both on and off the field. I think in life, I always believe we're not human beings having a spiritual experience, but it's the reverse. We're spiritual beings having a human experience. There's a difference, meaning there's something behind everything that you do that's tied to a power greater than you. You try to keep that focus as you go forward because the human existence is temporary. On the other side, sometimes in life we're blessed to be given a platform to do different things in life that can affect people, and you're given a stage and there are a lot of bright light on Tony and I talked about that. We talked about not just wanting to win.
"Certainly in our business, winning is critical, but when you win, how will you be remembered. There have been great coaches throughout the history of our league that have won and each one is remembered differently. I think the key thing about Tony coming in, about the horseshoe, about the things we talked about that night dealt with us having no idea what journey we were about to go on or how long it would last. We certainly dreamed and had our feelings about some things we wanted to accomplish. To say the least those things were far exceeded by Tony. It's been a special relationship, like I said. We've had a lot of conversations sometimes it wasn't about football and it wasn't about winning. It was about going through life, dealing with personal loss, staying together, and really having faith and belief. I think that's the thing with Tony that I talk about the magic in our sport and in the National Football League, and I believe in that magic. There are people like Tony throughout history who have come in and added chapters to that, and Tony's belief always and how we do things and doing things the right way in saying what it says to the youth of America, and what it says to the bigger picture and to our community was always woven with what we were trying to do and trying to accomplish. He had amazing powers of belief. It always made me wonder where they came from. I got to know his parents and Wilbur and then you could see. You could hear about his grandfather and those sorts of things. You could see how this man developed his belief system, his strength and his faith. There are many times we went through a lot of ups and downs, mostly ups, but we set the bar high early.
"I know in the season we won the Super Bowl, I can see it vividly now. I can remember Jacksonville's locker room when we had that really tough loss. I know that locker room and I can see it now with Bill and Tony and I there as we would gather and that sort of thing. Logic would have it that when you give up that many yards rushing, and you're getting close and ready to go into the playoffs, that you don't have much of a chance. Tony said, ‘No.' He stood there with the faith and the belief. That started from him. He said, ‘No. We can do this thing and we will do this thing.' The believers gathered behind him.
"It truly is one of the most miraculous runs that that we had that year after coming out of Jacksonville. Sure enough, we really talked about it being our time and we had the AFC Championship Game set up against New England, a tough rival throughout the decade and we were down, 21-3. He said, 'No. It is our time still.' He walked the sidelines and said that and believed it. That's the thing about what people say with their footsteps and what they really say. It always was with Tony. You could get that sense. He had that magical aspect of leadership.
I've always said when hiring a head coach, the No. 1 thing is leadership. That's first and foremost. It's been an incredible journey with Tony and with Lauren and both of our families and our whole organization. Like I said, I can't thank him enough. I know he's pushed me as a man and made me a better person. Our conversations together have meant the world to me and they'll continue. We were around long enough just to see so much happen in those seven years. I told Tony he's going to be around the organization, around the community and will be a Colt forever. I just can't thank you enough Tony for all you've done and the way you brought the horseshoe back at such the height that it stands for so many special things."
Team president Bill Polian
"Thank you Jim. You'll have to forgive me if I read from a prepared text. I don't trust my emotions. This isn't a time to celebrate Tony's monumental coaching and civic achievements. There will be time for that when he goes on the (Colts') Ring of Honor and ultimately at the Hall of Fame in Canton.
"This is a time for those of us who work with Tony — player, coach, football staff, front office employee — to say farewell. Not goodbye, but farewell to a mentor, role model, and a cherished friend. What an incredible privilege it has been work with this extraordinary man. In training camp, on the bus, in the office, in the draft room, and most importantly on the practice field and in the meeting room. His teaching ability, his example and most importantly his unshakeable faith and optimism inspired us all.
Most of you don't know, that it never rains on a Tony Dungy practice. It's true. Terre Haute or the westside of Indianapolis could up to its ankles in water but it doesn't rain on Tony Dungy's practice. In fact, I'm certain it wouldn't have rained in Miami except that Tony and God talked about it decided it was OK. Just before the half of the championship game that Jim referred to, when we were down badly, we were driving for a field goal and I turned to Dom Anile and said all we need is just a field goal. Just get a field goal and Tony will go in at halftime and do his magic and everything will be straighten out and we'll be just fine. We did and he did and we went on to win the world championship.
"Earlier this season, we were 3-4 and injured and things looked as bleak and they possibly could, a friend of mine said to me you know there's no God-given right to winning. You better get used to the fact that one of these years the brakes will go against you and the injuries will become too great and the obstacles will be too high and you won't have that magical season. I said, ‘No, that's not the case. We have to keep scratching and patching and sooner or later, Tony will do his magic,' and so he did. This season, I think and most of us around this football believe, was his greatest coaching job of all.
"We'll miss his face. We'll miss his optimism. We'll miss his patience. That's something he taught me in abundance. All of which contributes to that Dungy Magic. What a joy it was to work with Tony Dungy everyday. What a privilege it was to work with a man who talked the talk, albeit softly, but walked the walk emphatically. What an honor it was to reach the ultimate goal with a man who did it the right way.
"Last night as we were reminiscing, Tony said that his only regret was that we didn't win more world championships. That's a heck of a regret to go out on. We won everything else. Tony, on behalf on all your colleagues all your friends, you're wrong. We were winners everyday we worked with you and I and everybody else in this building wouldn't trade that time for all the trophies in the world. Tony, Lauren, thank you and Godspeed."
Head coach Tony Dungy
"It's funny, you really don't think about this or preparing something for when you retire. I've been blessed, tremendously blessed; played three years in the NFL, coached 28, and those 31 years have been fantastic. And because of that you're going to have to bear with me because I have a lot of people to think. My wife, Lauren, she told me to bring some Kleenex, I thought I would make it a little farther than the first sentence.
"I would like to kind of go in order, thank my mom and dad for raising me right and teaching me how to treat people, and that was the most important lesson I probably ever learned in life, and I got that from them. And then I had the chance to grow and play for some great coaches, high school and college and then I got to the NFL and played for Coach Noll and I learned not only how to live and how to treat people but how to play the game and ultimately how to coach the game.
"Then I got married in 1982 and my wife Lauren became my confidant and my counselor and my best friend, and I learned a lot from her. She's been by my side now for 27 years and been there through the ups and downs and I definitely want to thank her and our family. It's tough in this business without the support of your family, and I've certainly had that. Then I got a chance to work for some other great coaches, and I learned a lot from each one of them. I just have to thank Marty Schottenheimer and Denny Green and Bill Walsh and guys who helped shape me. Then I got a chance to become a head coach 13 years ago, and (Tampa Bay Buccaneers Owner/President) Malcolm Glazer just gave me a tremendous opportunity. I thank the Glazer family for letting me get started as a head coach and the great time that I had in Tampa.
"Then seven years ago I had the chance to come here, and I'll never forget (Colts Owner and CEO) Jim (Irsay) calling me and saying what he wanted to do, and he said something that was very important to me. He said, ‘Here in Indianapolis, we don't have the tradition, we don't have three and four generations of Colts fans and we have to connect with our community and we have to turn our young people into Colts fans, and that's what I want to do by winning, by winning the right way.' That was very enticing to me. Right after that I met with (Colts President) Bill (Polian) and we were in a little hotel down in Tampa and we talked about six hours about philosophy and how you win, and it became very evident to me that this was the place to be.
"I came up here and from day one, you think optimistically that this is going to be a great job, we're going to win, it's going to be a great place to live, and these seven years have been better than I could have ever imagined because of the people that Jim Irsay has here, the way he built the organization and a lot of the people you see standing around here. The staff that we have, our equipment people, our trainers, our video people, our assistants, everybody that goes into making the Colts what they are, it's just so special. I just have to thank every one of them. I wish I could go by name because they're all very special. And then you have to get into coaching staffs, and our assistant coaches have been with me, many of them a long time, some guys 13 years which is not done very often in this business. We've developed a bond, and it's been awesome to come to work every day and know that everybody is pulling the same way for the same goals and trying to win, but trying to win the right way. We've had a tremendous staff in place for the last seven years, so I want to thank them.
"It's been very, very special. The Lord, it was a perfect storm. The Lord brought people with the same vision, some great players, some great leaders on the team, and allowed us to stay focused on the goal for seven years. That's why it was always fun to come to work, because we had everybody pulling in the same direction, and it's not often that you have that.
"I remember my first press conference standing up before you in 2002 and saying that our goal was to win, win consistently, win a Super Bowl or two, but if that's all we did, it really wouldn't be that meaningful; that we needed to win in the right way, we needed to win with the right kind of players that would be role models, that our young men and young women in this community could look up to and say, ‘I want to be like him or him or him,' and we wouldn't have to worry which player they picked, that they would be good role models, that our guys would connect to the community and give back and that we would represent the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana and the National Football League well. And I think we've done that. We haven't won as many games as we would have hoped, but we won our share and we did it with a great group of young men that are tremendous role models, and I'm very, very proud of them.
"I've been really blessed, been blessed in these 31 years in the National Football League. I've worked the last seven years for the best owner and the best president in the league. I can't think of one time when I went home at night and said, ‘I wish we had this, if we had this a little bit better, if we could do this we'd have a chance to win.' Anything that a coach wanted, you had, and it just made it so easy to try to get things done. I am thankful to the Lord for the career that I've had. My wife and I talked and we just felt that this was the right time. You don't always get to go out on top. It's hard to go out on top because it's so much fun winning. When you're winning you don't want to stop.
"I think I've got a chance to do some other things down the road. I think I've got a responsibility to be home a little bit more, to be available to my family a little bit more and to try to do some things to help make our country better. I don't know what that's going to be, but I hope to do that. I wouldn't trade these 31 years in for anything. I wouldn't trade these seven that I've had here. This has been very, very special, and all of you have been part of it. I thank you, I thank our staff that's (in the back), I thank Jim and Bill, Lauren and my daughter Tiara. It's been awesome, it's been special.
"Don't shed any tears for me. I've gotten to live a dream that most people don't get to live. What phase two is we'll find out, but phase one has been awfully special and awfully sweet, and I'm thankful for it."
On the process and how he came to the decision:
"My plan was that we would win a Super Bowl and we would walk off the field in Tampa where it all started for me, and that would be the perfect time to retire with our second one. And it didn't quite work out that way. So after we lost in San Diego, I wanted to think. You're initial thought is, ‘I have to come back, we have to make up for this, this is not the way to go out.' But Lauren and I talked and then in the early part of last week we had to go with our son Jordan. He needed surgery and that gave us a little more time to think and talk and get over the bitterness of the San Diego game.
And you just think, ‘Is this the right time?' There were a lot of factors that went into it, family-wise, what we wanted to do, and also it was a sense for me that I knew Jim Caldwell was following me, and Jim's going to do a great job. He's ready. He's going to be fantastic. We're going to keep winning. But when I did leave, I wanted to leave with pieces in place to still win, and I think we have that. So it was a balancing act of when to go.
"As I said, it's tough to leave when you're winning and you have great guys around you, but Lauren and I just prayed about it and we felt that this was the right time."
On when he was comfortable with his decision:
"We talked about it and it was probably mid-week, but I always like to give it a little time. We said that we're going to let it go over the weekend and think about it, and if I woke up and if Lauren woke up Sunday morning still feeling the same way that I would go in and talk to Jim (Irsay). And that's what I did. That's probably when I knew for sure, at the very end of the week. I went in to talk to Jim yesterday and he said, ‘Have you had enough time to think about it?' And I told him that we had. Then we spent about two-and-a-half hours just crying and talking about the last seven years and how beautiful it's been. I have a real peace about it that this is the right time."
On if this is it or he may come back down the road:
"I can't imagine coming back right now. You never know what's going to happen, and who knows what five years is going to bring. My mother was an English teacher and if someone had told her that I was going to write a book she would have never believed that, so I guess you can never say never. But that's one of the things Lauren and I talked about, to coach as long as I needed to, to satisfy what was inside of me, and I have. So this really is a retirement, but I am smart enough to know that a lot of guys have said that and come back. I don't anticipate it but we'll see."
On where he will spend his time:
"I think our home base is going to be Tampa, but I plan on being in Indianapolis a lot, and I'm going to be a Colt forever and I still don't know what the right word for it is, an Indianapolis-ite, or Hoosier, I don't know what the term is, but I do plan on being here a lot and being around. Indianapolis has been special. I've been part of some really, really fun and unique things and I plan to keep those ties. So you'll be seeing me quite a bit."
On his seven years here:
"I think we'll look back on this time and see that it was really, really special, in the time of free agency and the changes that go on in a team year in and year out. The seven years that we've put together, I think people will look back and say it was special. I think my legacy will be more of how we did it. In talking to some of the players today—that's been the hardest thing to do, I know I'm going to miss those guys so much—but most of the guys talked about things that really didn't involve what we did on the field, and that's important to me. As Jim (Irsay) said, when he called me, that we needed to connect with the community and turn Indianapolis and Indiana into Colts Country, and I think we've done that. So I think that's going to be part of it, that I was someone that helped our players in every stop that I've been at, helped them connect back with the community and be the type of role models that our young kids need. So if I was going to hope, it would be something like that and maybe very little talk about what we did on the field."
On the grind and what he's going to miss:
"You get in kind of a body clock, and I'm going to miss next week talking with Bill (Polian) about the combine and who's coming out, who we should keep our eye on, who he likes and getting ready and the preparation. It's hard to explain to someone outside that, we have 18 coaches and you spend so much time together and you develop a rapport that most people don't because you come in at seven o'clock in the morning and you go home sometimes at nine o'clock at night. You're with guys 15, 16 hours a day and you're going after a common goal, and you're going to miss that rapport.
"And I'm going to miss seeing 21-year-old guys come in and watching them mature and grow into veteran players that lead your team. And just the back-and-forth camaraderie and being in the huddle and watching guys, talking to guys and learning about their families and just that connection. And you're going to miss the competition, being out there on Sunday where it's three hours and you get graded at the end of the day and everybody knows if it's pass or fail. That's fun, that's been fun and that's been a big part of it, but the relationships are what you're going to miss. Most of my best friends are either guys that I've played with or that I coached or that I coached with. So that camaraderie that you build in the locker room and the meeting rooms, I'm sure I'll miss that more than anything."
On if he wishes they could have won one more Super Bowl:"You always think you can do a little bit better. I'm enough of a football historian to know that it's not always your time. I thought '06 was our time and it turned out to be. I was in Pittsburgh during a great run and our '76 team, if you ask any of those guys, that was the best team, and that one didn't win. I thought our '05 team was special and we didn't win. So you always think you could do a little bit better and win a few more, but I won't look back and think that I could have done anything more, that if I had put more time in maybe we could have won one more game. I think I did all that I could do. I think our coaches and players did all that we could do. The Lord blessed us with one and that's one more than a lot of people win."
On if he has thought about television at all:
"I really don't know what I'm going to do from here. I know that I want to do something that will allow me to spend more time with my family and I want to do something that will allow me to connect with young people. That would be my goals. Television gives you a chance to do things and still have free time. That's one good thing about it, but I'm not so sure, I really don't know. I haven't thought about exactly what path I'm going to take, and I'll probably sort that out in the next few months."
On how many players he has spoken with and if he has spoken to Peyton Manning:
"I did talk to Peyton. I've spoken with five or six guys today. Our guys text now. I've gotten a lot of texts and I don't text back as fast, so they haven't heard from me quite as fast. I have heard from a lot of people, and that's the tough part. That's been the emotionally draining part of today. I've walked around and talked to most of the people in this building and told them how special they've been to me, and it's always the same way. You start out and you're laughing and you're talking about memories, and then by the end of the time you're crying because you realize we have spent some special times together that will never be the same. They're not going to come to an end, but they'll never be quite the same. And I've talked to a bunch of players and told them how special they've been and how proud I've been to be their coach. So hopefully in the next few days I'll get a chance to connect with everybody."
On if he has spoken to Lovie Smith or Herm Edwards:
"I have not. I have some messages in, they have some messages to me and we've kind of missed each other. I really wanted to concentrate on this building today, but I have talked to some guys that I've worked with. Those guys, they'll carry the banner, they'll continue to go. I'm very proud of the guys that I've been around, that are not only here but are other places. That's been one of my motivations in this whole process, to coach well and to put out winning teams and be involved in winning programs, but show people that you can do it in a way that—I don't want to say the right way because there are a lot of ways to do it — but you can treat people right, you can be professional, do it with class and still win. I think we have a lot of guys in the NFL that are doing it that way and it's something that I'm going to be proud to be associated with the rest of my life."
On the impact he has had on people, particularly former players:
"It's funny because I was talking to Tom Moore and when those guys will write me or text me and say how much they appreciated being around me. It's very, very gratifying. I asked Tom today, ‘I wonder if Coach Noll knows the impact that he had on me?' So I'm thankful for the guys I've been around, the guys that were older than I was, that kind of showed me the ropes in this business and I'm grateful that the Lord has given me an opportunity to bring some guys into the league and young coaches and coach with them and hopefully show them some things."
On Jim Caldwell being ready to be a head coach:
"I think this, and I'm not going to speak for Jim Irsay, but my personal opinion, if Jim Irsay was looking for a coach and interviewed all these guys that I'm seeing be interviewed, he would interview Jim Caldwell and say, ‘That's the best guy out there.' The fact that Jim's been here for seven years, knows our organization inside out, has the respect of our players and our coaches, there's no question in my mind he's the best guy for this job. And I think the way we did it, it was great for me because I can take my time and make this decision. We didn't have to worry about losing him. I didn't have to make the decision quick because, ‘Oh, someone else might hire Jim Caldwell.' He is ready, he's more than ready. He and I talked today just about some of the things that he has planned, some of the little changes he wants to make and tweak things. He's going to do a great job."
On Jim Caldwell operating a lot like himself:
"I think that's unfair to say. We're not sure how he's going to operate. He's going to do a great job and it's going to be Jim Caldwell's team. He's not going to try to do it like I did it. He is I'm sure going to be like I was, he's worked for some great people — he's worked for Joe Paterno — and a lot of coaches that he has taken something from. He's going to put his stamp on this team and they're going to continue to win."
On the pride he takes in watching his former coaches in the NFL — Lovie Smith, Rod Marinelli, Herm Edwards, Mike Tomlin:
"I always do, and everybody you work with you pull for and you stay in touch with, and it's another way I've been blessed. I have had some tremendous, tremendous assistant coaches that have gone on to do some great things. Guys on this staff are going to go on to do some great things. I am proud of them. I'm going to continue to be proud of them. You do watch and pull for them and that's something I look forward to doing."
On when he felt he was helping build a football town:
"I think it started building in '03 and by the time we got to '04, you would come into the stadium and everybody's wearing jerseys. It's blue and white and you leave after the game and there's still 10,000 people around the stadium in the parking lots and they're tailgating and blue and white. That was a great feeling. I know it's what Jim (Irsay) wanted, what he was hoping for. And then to see our players go out and do things in the community, and they're at high schools and junior highs and doing charity work. The letters that I would get back that, ‘Hey, your team, your players, have done something special — not on the field, but around town.' And you could start to feel that connection build. It was in the middle of the '03 season when you really noticed it."
On if his decision had anything do to with being geographically separated from his family:
"No, that wasn't part of it at all. This year was actually fun. It was not draining at all. We almost made the same decision two or three years before. We started to talk about this in '05, actually, and ‘What's the right time?' So, no, that part of it didn't really enter in."
On opening two stadiums:
"That's something special and unique and not many people get to do that, to open two stadiums. Again, it was just fate and the way it happened, but I've been blessed to be part of two communities really coming to support their teams. You always want to leave with the situation better than when you came. For Tampa and for Indianapolis to have new stadiums and have the fan support that they have and have the type of teams they have, it's been pretty special."
On his plan large-scale down the road:
"That I don't know. Where my heart is, though, is really with our young men right now. We have so many guys who didn't grow up like me, didn't have their dad there and didn't have that person to look at and say, ‘This is how you should do things.' That's one of the things we have to get corrected in this country, and that's a big, big—I don't want to say weight for me—but something that I'm very, very interested in. So as I go forward, that's one thing that I'll always have my eye on, how I can try to help that and be involved with that. I'm working with a great organization in Tampa, Family First, and they have an initiative called All Pro Dad that I'm involved with. We've been kicking around the idea of how we can have an outreach to teenagers, and that will be something that I'm looking forward to. I'm really going to see where the Lord directs me. It will be something, I hope, where I'm helping people."
On how it will be to wake up tomorrow morning and not be a head coach:
"It will be different. I woke up today, I knew I wasn't going to be the head coach of the Colts — and not everyone knew that — but it was even strange in that regard, that for the first time in 28 years I wasn't going to be coaching. I didn't necessarily have to get ready for the next part of the calendar year, and walking in today and speaking to our coaching staff for the last time and thanking them and then saying, ‘We have a saying around here, Next Man Up, and Jim Caldwell's the next man up and he's going to run the meeting from here.' It was great in a way to give Jim my chair, but it's going to be different. It was bittersweet, it was."
On what he will do in his spare time:
"It will be nice to have that discretionary time. To tell a story, we had a Monday night game this year and usually I don't get off early on Wednesdays but when we were playing Tennessee I was off early and I went to Wednesday night church service. A lady in our church told me that her son was struggling and his dad wasn't around and she was worried about him. I called him on the phone that night and we started texting a little bit and I could see that he really just needed that male touch, somebody to just be around to care. Fortunately I could call the guys at Family First and say, ‘Do we have someone we could refer this young man to?' They did, and these guys, this young man and the mentor that we set (him) up (with), struck up a great relationship. I saw him on New Years Eve and he was doing great, eyes bright, smiling. I said, ‘It would have been great if I could have taken some Saturdays or time just to be — fortunately we had someone who could — but there will be a time when I will be able to do that. It's going to be good to have time where I'll be able to do things that I want to do. So that's what I'm looking forward to."
On if he plans on going to the Presidential Inauguration:
"Yes I do as a matter of fact. My wife really wants to go. I'm not one for crowds, but she wants to go so we are going to. It's going to be historic and I'm looking forward to being there and being a part of that."
On his civic participation:
"I served on President Bush's council for Service and Civic Participation and it was pretty awesome. I'm probably going to take a month or two and just stay away from everything and find out what some of the possibilities are, but I'm looking forward to whatever the Lord has out there."
On a passage he mentioned in another interview and what he meant:
"I was talking to Chris Mortensen and what I mentioned to him was that there's a passage where Paul is trying to, he says, ‘If I stay here and live with you that's good; if I die and go to heaven that's better.' I told Chris that's kind of how I feel about this decision. It's not that if I do one thing, that's bad, the other thing is good. I have two great choices. I can stay here and work in a great organization with some great young men and have a chance to win another Super Bowl, or I can spend a little more time with my family and hopefully do some other things that will help a different part of our country and try to find out which one was better. That's what I was wrestling with at the time."
On if he has a favorite memory here:
"There are a lot. That's what kind of got us to crying a little bit yesterday for two hours, because there are a lot of good memories. I remember coming in the very first day and helicoptering in seeing this facility and saying, ‘Wow, this is going be really, really special.' I remember the AFC Championship Game and the fans not leaving and being there and just hugging everybody and saying, ‘Hey, we're going to the Super Bowl. We're going to a goal that we set five years ago.' I remember a lot of our guys coming in. I remember Marlin Jackson especially, coming in and Jim (Irsay) always brings the number one draft pick in that night, and his family and the people that he brought with him. It just kind of exemplified everything, these young guys coming in and they're excited to be here and then watching them grow. That's been very special as well. So, there have been a lot, there really has been, just special times that we've had with the team, plane rides back from away games where everybody's excited about winning the game and you just see that camaraderie of a group working together. Those are the things that you can't really put a price tag on."