I’m not surprised.
Saddened. But not surprised.
Incensed. But not surprised.
My former colleagues named Green Bay QB Brett Favre their 2007 Sportsman of the Year today. Great guy. Great QB, and he’s having an unexpectedly great season. (At least he was until that little visit to Dallas at few days back.)
But, uh, Tony Dungy?? Great Guy. Great coach, and he won the freakin’ Super Bowl! He led his team, the Indianapolis Colts, to the biggest championship in pro sports a year after his teen-aged son committed suicide. A year after Dungy showed America what it was like to be a man of great faith in the midst of unspeakable tragedy.
And during that year – when he questioned whether he should coach again, comforted his wife and children, and dealt with his own great pain – Tony Dungy lived that faith, talked that faith and walked that faith, and he touched all of America as his team reached the pinnacle of its sport.
Tony Dungy was America’s coach.
And oh yes, he became the first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl, and in doing so, achieved a milestone that stands alongside all the great firsts achieved by so many people of color throughout our nation’s tortured racial history. But to me, that’s secondary to the way he embodied being a man in the midst of the storm of storms. That’s why he was my selection for SI’s 2007 Sportsman of the Year. No-brainer.
But I don’t work there any more. That’s full disclosure for those who find this post and don’t know that 12 years of my professional life were spent at the magazine.
I was there long enough to not be surprised at this selection. Favre has long been a favorite of the top editors there. Years ago, when it looked as if his Hall of Fame career was done, as he fought on gamely while it looked like his prodigious skills had eroded and that he should perhaps retire, they were looking for ways to tout him.
In fact I chuckled when the magazine published the cover below in December, 2006, a year after I last departed. I chuckled because there had been discussions about a Favre cover touting “Leadership” as far back as when I was still there. When I saw the “For the Love of the Game” cover I said to myself: “They finally figured out a way to get that cover.”
Yeah, they love them some Favre over there at SI. Little did I know how much.
Too bad. They missed a great story. They missed a great opportunity. They missed a great man.
I’m not surprised.