SEARCY -- Tony Dungy's message resonated with most of his players in the National Football League.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame coach hopes his message did the same for Harding University students Thursday night.
"What is going to be your life's work?" Dungy asked students in the Benson Auditorium audience.
Dungy, who spoke as part of Harding's American Studies Institute's Distinguished Lecture Series, spoke about his playing and coaching career in the NFL and how a four-time Super Bowl winning coach helped mold him into the head coach he would become.
When Dungy was coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the late 1990s, linebacker Derrick Brooks paid a visit to his office and told his coach that he had lost more games in his rookie season of 1995 (9 losses) than he had lost in his entire college football career at Florida State (3 in 1992-94).
But Dungy told Brooks that football wasn't just about winning games. He wanted his players to make a difference in their lives and communities. Brooks went on to create a charitable foundation that provided educational opportunities in Florida.
Brooks' former Buccaneers teammates, running back Warrick Dunn and fullback Mike Alstott, were also inspired by Dungy.
Dunn has helped build more than 150 homes for single parents in honor of his mother, who was killed when he was a teenager. Alstott is currently the head coach at Northside Christian School in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"That is a life's work," Dungy said. "Winning games, the Lombardi Trophy or making millions of dollars doesn't matter."
Dungy, 63, was a head coach for 13 seasons with the Buccaneers (1996-2001) and the Indianapolis Colts (2002-08). The Colts won Super Bowl XLI in February 2007, defeating the Chicago Bears, which made Dungy the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
While with the Colts, Dungy coached quarterback Peyton Manning, who was the team's signal-caller for the Super Bowl title team in 2006. Dungy said Manning is one of the best players to ever play the game.
"He prepared so much," Dungy said. "He worked as hard as anybody."
Dungy added that he and Manning will be filming a segment in April as part of the NFL's 100th anniversary celebration this season.
Before becoming a head coach, Dungy was an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings. He played quarterback at the University of Minnesota, then played four seasons in the NFL (Steelers 1977-78, San Francisco 49ers 1979, New York Giants 1980). Dungy won a Super Bowl title with the Steelers in the 1978 season.
Chuck Noll, who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl titles (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979), was Dungy's coach in 1977 and 1978. Noll stressed the importance to his players of not making football the only priority in their lives.
"You're going to leave here disappointed," Dungy, a safety for the Steelers in 1977 and 1978, recalled Noll telling him and his teammates.
Currently, Dungy is an analyst with NBC Sports and is a No. 1 bestselling author. His books include Quiet Strength, Uncommon, The Mentor Leader and Uncommon Marriage.
Football has been a platform for Dungy. But it's also a great way to prepare for life, he said.
"It is the ultimate team sport," Dungy said. "It doesn't guarantee success. I like the camaraderie, the closeness and the intangible feelings that you need. You have teammates and teamwork. You don't win every game, so there's something to be said for bouncing back."
Sports on 03/29/2019
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