ANDERSON, Ind. — As Tony Dungy stood on the sidelines before Sunday’s afternoon practice at Anderson University, members of the Indianapolis Colts intermittently stopped by to shake his hand reverentially.
The head coach for the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI championship team was greeted by each player as if he was a visiting head of state. First came Reggie Wayne, one of just seven players still on the roster from Dungy’s final season in 2008. Austin Collie was next to pay his respects, followed a short time later by reserve quarterback Chandler Harnish — who grew up a Colts fan cheering for Dungy in Bluffton.
Finally, it was Andrew Luck’s turn. And the two men shared a handshake that bridged the franchise’s highly successful past and its suddenly promising future.
“Tony was great,” said current Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who had an audience with Dungy on Saturday night. “He’s got so much, and he’s done so many great things. What I told the team (was that) he is the all-time winningest coach in Colts history. Every one of his teams here went to the playoffs, 93 wins, won a Super Bowl and more importantly than that it’s what he’s done off the field and how he is as a man and how he is as a father and all the lives that he’s impacted.”
Dungy was at training camp at the invitation of Colts owner Jim Irsay. He said it’s the first time he’s been at any NFL practice since he left the sidelines following a run of seven straight playoff appearances in seven seasons with Indianapolis.
He spent time on the sidelines at Lucas Oil Stadium during NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI in February, and he said that if the excitement on that field didn’t lure him back to the coaching ranks nothing likely will.