When the saga of Tony Dungy and Michael Vick began, it seemed like the case of a one-time counseling session of opposites attract. But Michael Vick, giving an address on his return on August 14th, seemed different than he did in 2007.
Here's why: Tony Dungy is a man of complete integrity. My guess is, with Dungy talking to Vick, the former Falcons' Quarterback realized something important. It can all go away in a second. One mistake and it's gone.
Tony Dungy, for 5 years, had been the outstanding head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Standing on the sideline, you could see his calm, trusting leadership's effect on the field. He held complete trust in Peyton Manning, as well as the rest of his offense and Tom Moore.
They trusted him and the result was a well-oiled machine of an offense. At it's peak in 2004, the Colts' record stood at 14-2. Peyton Manning threw for over 4,000 yards and 49 touchdowns, and in 2006, they won Super Bowl XLI, beating the Bears 29-17.
Dungy rode into the sunset at the end of the 2008-2009 NFL Season.
Michael Vick, for 6 years, played in the NFL. In Atlanta, he was the franchise man for the Falcons. A star whom everybody loved and admired for his athleticism and talent. He starred on the cover of Madden NFL 2004.
But in 2007, at his Virginia home, police investigators found evidence of a dogfighting ring, Vick was involved and sentenced to 23 months in prison, just shy of 2 years.
Nobody heard from Michael Vick for two years.
Until August 14th, 2009, when Michael Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tony Dungy attended the same press conference where Vick showed everyone who watched that he was a different man. No longer the "diva" young quarterback we saw in Atlanta, but a man.
During his time in jail, and even now afterward, Dungy has become Vick's mentor. His role model and guide, Tony Dungy has shown Michael Vick what it means to be an NFL Quarterback. It means to trust your teammates and hold them higher than yourself. It means to be a leader, a man of integrity. I think Vick got the message.
As a coach, my friend Peter always told me, "A good coach wins championships, a great coach leaves a legacy." Tony Dungy is certainly in that great category. There has never been a coach of his caliber and style. He's completely original and shall be missed in Indy.
As for Mike Vick, He will once again bloom into that amazing, athletic mold we saw him in years ago. However, I am now completely convinced that thanks to Tony Dungy, Vick will act more professional, more humbly, and most of all, with more integrity.