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Dungy, Richt join forces for All Pro Dad

9:05 pm March 18, 2009, by Chip Towers

Tony Dungy told a story Wednesday about interviewing for an NFL coaching job some years back and having an owner tell him that he planned to pour millions and millions of dollars into the franchise and needed to know how committed Dungy was to winning.

“I need to know if this job is going to be the most important thing in your life,” Dungy recalled the owner asking him. “I said, ‘No, it won’t be.’ . . . I didn’t get the job, and I was OK with that.’”

Dungy, the recently-retired head coach of the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts and a father of six, shared that anecdote during a joint press conference held Wednesday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall with Georgia coach Mark Richt. The occasion was to announce their new partnership in one of Dungy’s longtime passions, the All Pro Dad program.

First of all I have to say I was impressed with the media turnout. It appeared that every Atlanta television station and pretty much every newspaper and dot-com that covers the Bulldogs was present. There were a number of onlookers as well, coaches and athletic department personnel that probably just wanted to stop in and meet Dungy. In any case, it filled to standing-room only the expansive team-meeting room on the first floor of the football complex. That said a lot about the drawing power of these two men for what is ostensibly a charitable cause.

I’m a father, so I’m biased, but I found their message and cause to be quite worthy of the attention it got, especially in the day and age we live in where so many children grow up without fathers in their lives. All Pro Dad, an off-shoot of the national non-profit Family First, is dedicated to strengthening the bonds between fathers and children. It does this by providing daily tips via email and its website and a kind of road map for ways to spend more time with your children. They’re best known for their creed of “Ten Ways to be a Better Dad.” It’s a sort of club for fathers and they have monthly and annual events dads and their kids can attend.

Dungy, a father of six, founded the program while he was head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucanneers in 1997 and it was eventually adopted by the whole of the NFL. Now retired, he wants to expand the program’s reach into colleges and, already of good friend of Richt, he chose Georgia as the jumping-off point.

Both Richt and Dungy break the stereotype of the 20-hours-a-day, sleep-in-the-office football coach. Richt, a father of four, has staff meetings late enough in the morning that his assistants can have breakfast with their families and drop off the kids at school. He has Family Night dinners at the football complex at least once a week but mothers and children usually show up at the end of most every day.

“I’m so appreciative of Coach Richt because I think he’s been doing it the right way and setting an example that you can be a good husband and father and still be successful,” Dungy said.

Said Richt: “We want our guys to grow up and become wonderful husbands and fathers. We’re constantly planting those seeds for these young men’s lives.”

A big event at UGA is still in the planning stages, likely some day in June, in which dads and their kids will come to Sanford Stadium for a whole day of activities. We’ll let you know when we know. .

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Another article.. Great to see why Dungy picked Mark Richt as the first coach and UGA as the first school for this great cause.

ATHENS --- The University of Georgia football team practiced for two hours during its second spring practice of the year at the Woodruff practice fields on Wednesday afternoon.

Following Wednesday’s session, head coach Mark Richt was pleased with his team’s performance this early in the spring.

“We had an outstanding practice today,” Richt said. “There were some things from (Tuesday) that we talked about in the coaches meetings and to the team and I think we corrected all of them for the most part. The defense was leading us with their effort and enthusiasm and as a whole, I though we got better today.”

While the Bulldogs do not have a practice scheduled for Thursday, Georgia will be hosting its annual NFL Pro Day, which gives the seniors from the previous season and any underclassmen who declared early a chance to work out for scouts, coaches and administrators from NFL teams. Richt said the workouts were not mandatory for his current team to attend, but he did encourage his players to come and watch.

“This is one of, if not the, biggest Pro Days we have had since 2000 so I told our current players to stop by at some point to see what it’s like for these former players to basically have a job interview for what they consider the job of a lifetime,” said Richt.

Prior to Wednesday’s practice, former NFL head coach Tony Dungy held a joint press conference with Richt as they announced the expansion of the national fatherhood program, All Pro Dad, into collegiate football. Dungy then addressed the team for 30 minutes before the Bulldogs’ second practice of the spring.

“I can’t tell you how many hours we spend trying to find ways to help our guys enrich their lives,” said Richt. “We are thrilled to have (Coach Dungy) here with us and I think it is always beneficial to have someone here who is dead serious about helping our players grow into being great fathers.”

Dungy was also excited to involve Georgia in the All Pro Dad program.

“We thought UGA was a great place to start because I know what kind of man (Coach Richt) is and what kind of heart he has so I think this is a great fit,” Dungy said.

There are 12 practices scheduled before the spring culminates with the annual G-Day football game at Sanford Stadium. This year’s game will be on Saturday, April 11 at 1:05 p.m. and be televised by ESPN. Admission is free.

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