Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Dec 2005

Tony Dungy's Son Dies

WTHR in Indianapolis reports: The 18-year-old son of Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy has been found dead at the Campus Lodge apartments in Lutz, Florida. Fire rescue and deputies went there because of a call from his roommates and girlfriend. A death investigation is underway, but the sheriff's office says there's a high probability that the death of James Dungy was a suicide.

UPDATE: WTHR has now removed any mention of suicide from its Web site. Indychannel.com has also changed its Web site, from "Police are investigating, but said Dungy's death was likely a suicide" to "Police said there were no signs of foul play, but would not confirm if the cause of death was suicide." James Dungy was a student at the University of South Florida.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 22 Dec 2005

54 comments, Last at 27 Dec 2005, 1:02pm by LnGrrrR

Comments

1
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 11:56am

Wow, Dungy is having a bad week. I really feel for the guy.

2
by Kevo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 12:02pm

Wow, and from suicide. That's a shame. Poor Tony.

3
by krugerindustrialsmoothin (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 12:09pm

puts alot of stuff into perspective. My condolences to anyone for whom the Christmas season brings up painful memories.

4
by OMO (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 12:20pm

Parents should never outlive their children.

Damn.

(going to find kids and hug the bejesus out of them)

5
by Russell Levine :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 12:39pm

I'm just heartbroken at this news. Whether or not you think Tony Dungy is a great coach, he's a great man who appeared to have a tremendous family life. James used to be a ball boy for the Bucs and was often seen on the sidelines at Indy games, yukking it up with players. I can't imagine the sorrow that Dungy feels right now, especially given the time of year.

Dungy will always hold a special place for me as a Bucs fan. He's the man who turned around the Buccaneers and did with such grace and class. When the team tried to hire his replacement before bothering to fire him, he left town with his head held high, as always taking the high road.

My thoughts and condolences go out to him and his extended family.

6
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 12:52pm

Wow...very sad to hear.

I guess it's good that the Colts wrapped up homefield...Dungy won't have anything to worry about besides his family, as is rightfully so, and he will be able to properly take care of things and grieve.

7
by Domer (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 12:54pm

This is one of those situations where you don't know what to say. There's no appropriate or sufficient comment.

Tony Dungy has always been such a classy person. This is horrible for anybody to go through.

8
by EJP (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 1:06pm

Tony Dungy = Grade A Class Act. Period. I can think of no better way to describe him. Class. It's reflected by his team, too. Even before this, I had hoped the Colts would win the Superbowl this year. Now I will cheer for them with unbridled enthusiasm.

9
by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 1:08pm

OMO has it right. No parent should have to bury their child. My condolences to the Dungy family.

10
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 1:17pm

My heart goes out to Tony Dungy. This horrible loss makes all of us remember how precious life and children are. Our prayers for Mr. Dungy and all his family.

May God watch over you and give you all you need at this awful time.

11
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 1:18pm

Yes it is a shame. I hope the rest of the Dungy family lives long and healthy lives.

12
by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 2:03pm

I heard about this on FOX News. (work) The quote from the anchor, "This is a bad week for Tony Dungy. First, the Colts lose to end their undefeated season..." Yes, I'm sure that he's thinking, "If only we were still undefeated..." My condolences to Tony Dungy and his family.

13
by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 2:38pm

Re 12

I've noticed the same sort of thing in a couple places -- people trying to tie this story back to football. Even this article mentions who the Colts are playing this weekend, as if that's relevant.

14
by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 2:42pm

Heartbreaking.

Condolences to all involved.

15
by bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:24pm

I am sure glad he is a man of faith. I can't imagine the anguish, sudden, utter, inexplicable, breath-taking... If there ever was a model for fatherhood in a business that is not conducive to good, consistent parenting, it is Dungy. This is so horrible. How to explain to my five year-old son why I'll be crying when I watch Saturday's game... even worse (you parents out there will understand) my son will pat me on the back and say "It's okay, Dad."

16
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:26pm

Give him the biggest hug in the world when he does, bob.

17
by Dave Glass (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:07pm

I'm a single dad raising 3 boys..a few mos ago I had a vivid dream that my 4 yr old had died, luckily I awoke to see him in bed with me. That 1 brief moment of terror when I awoke and thought the dream was real is something I'll never forget..I cannot imagine actually living through such a nightmare.

My thoughts will be with the Dungy family as they go through this.

18
by b-man (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:09pm

This just hits you like a ton of bricks. I swear I feel like the wind just got knocked out of me.

19
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:19pm

I've never really thought of Dungy as a great coach, and I'm not a fan of the teams he has worked for, but he has always struck me as a non-a_s in a buisness full of them. They don't know me from anyone, but my condolences go out to the Dungy family and to all of the friends of someone too young to die.

I will even resist the urge to make derogatory comments about religion being shovelled into the thread. Don't we get enough of that from the president? Sorry.

-Sean

20
by Mshray (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:32pm

Very heartfelt reactions from Mortenson & Pasquarelli on ESPN.com. Nobody is using the "S" word at the moment, & I for one certainly hope that it turns out to have been some other cause of death.

Bobman, my son turns 6 today & I expect the exact same thing will happen in my TV room on Saturday.

21
by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:50pm

RE #19:

I'm glad you showed restraint!

/sarcasm off

22
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:07pm

I dont often agree with Samurai, but there is a proper place for religious expression, and this would be it.

23
by Francisco (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:28pm

The class that Dungy showed when he was coaching the Bucs made me a Bucs fan, and I was overjoyed when he came to Indianapolis. I always enjoyed the fact that his kids were there on the sidelines, smiling and joking with the players. The Dungys don't know my family from anyone either, but our thoughts will be with them.

24
by JAT (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:51pm

This is horrible, my heart breaks for Dungy and his family. I'll be like you, bobman, when I watch Saturday's game.

25
by thevertex (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 6:04pm

"Tony Dungy = Grade A Class Act. Period."

Why are people always so convinced that they intimately know and understand public figures that they only are exposed to in relatively brief controlled circumstances? For all any of us know Tony Dungy might be a rapist or something.
I have absolutely nothing against the man and my sympathies go out to him but I am not about to crown him Best Human Ever simply because he seems decent the 20 or so times a year I might see a glimpse of him.

26
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 6:05pm

Losing a son is one of the worst things imaginable, but if it's a suicide on top of that... wow. I'm not surprised that mention of it was removed. There are still far too many people that think of suicide as something that shames the rest of the family. It's an awful and confusing thing.

27
by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 6:51pm

Re 25

I don't recall anyone saying he was the "Best Human Ever." Several people have used the word "class," and comporting oneself with class is a trait that can generally be observed from afar.

28
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 7:19pm

Well, #25,I don't know Dungy personally, but I know a half dozen very worldly guys (in the sense that they have had extremely varied professional careers) who, to a man, say that the finest leader of men they have ever known was the guy they played football
with, one Tony Dungy, thirty years ago. I am sick.

Words are insufficent to this hideous situation, but if it is
suicide (and I pray that it isn't) I hope people can keep their mouths or keyboards quiet regarding speculating
on the "cause". Clinical depression is an insidious, horrible, disease that most people don't understand very well, and it often leads to them inadverdantly saying some absolutely hurtful (to the survivors) things.

May the Dungy family find strength in the days ahead.

29
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 8:05pm

Re: #29,

Cmon Kim Jong Il, this isn't a debate. It's just some people saying he seemed to be a really classy person, and they are sad that a classy person passed on. Not one of us here probably actually KNEW him...but we can recognize that the fact that this child died is a sad one.

Even IF Dungy wasn't a great person, that doesn't mean that the loss of his child isn't disheartening. And the fact that he DID seem to be a good person may cause some to think it's even more sad.

Personally, no matter how Dungy was as a person, the situation would still be unfortunate and sad.

30
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 8:07pm

Excuse me, I meant to say that they are sad that the SON of a classy person passed on, as they probably assume that he raised his child in what seemed to be by all accounts a loving, caring atmosphere.

And also, if 200 people say they witnessed something, and the claim is not incredible, it is good reason to believe said claim. Extraordinary claims may require extraordinary evidence/proof, but someone saying that Dungy seemed to be a classy person is, by no means, an 'extraordinary' claim.

31
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 8:08pm

And for the second time today, I respond to a post that gets deleted.

I swear I am not talking to myself people. :)

32
by Theo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 8:13pm

I hope Dungy finds enough love to get on.

33
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 8:27pm

LnGrrrR, sorry, I'm the one who deleted both posts you responded to. One I deleted just because I wanted to confine the topic to the right discussion thread. The other, if the person who posted it is wondering why I deleted it, I encourage him to e-mail me.

34
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 8:55pm

Thank you, MDS, for doing that. It's rare for the Voweless Wonder, Trogdor, and I to have such agreement, but I think we would be able to supply you with any invective you might need in case of a response.

35
by bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 9:25pm

Regarding religion, I mentioned it fairly obliquely in an earlier post (and am no fan of the president's injection if it all over), Sean #19, but all accounts indicate that it IS a cornerstone of Dungy's personality and is very pertinent here. He's lucky to have it.

BTW, it's helped reading through this thread; thanks. If I need more therapy, I may just try to endure the Brady/Manning thread from beginning to end.

Hope the humor came through in a non-tacky fashion.

36
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 9:36pm

35 -

Hey Bobman, it's all good, I just think that religion should, in general, be a private thing. A man's* business between him and his god is his OWN business, and I don't want anything to do with anybody else's. I'm probably oversensitive.

*please forgive the masculinity of the noun/pronouns - I'm not a fan of "his/her"

21 - CatSam - well, I DID say I was sorry.

-Sean

37
by lagfish (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 10:58pm

My condolences to the Dungy family, this is tragic. Does anyone think it could have been some kind of accidental death? If speculating on this is out of line I can respect that and am sorry.

38
by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:32am

RE #36:

I understand you apologized, but what else do you think people would talk about in a thread about a coach's son dying and that same coach having a strong religous faith? It isn't like they were going to talk about the differences beween Ryu and Ken in Street Fighter Alpha or quantum physics.

39
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:10am

One thing that really bothers me about this is that I get the sneaking suspicion that the reason ESPN etc. respect Dungy's privacy in this period (as they should) isn't because they actually care, but because of anticipated viewer backlash. If the viewers would stand for and tune into them hounding the family all over the place, thats what they would be doing (or so their general conduct leads me to believe).

40
by Optical (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 9:54am

#39

While that may be true, I believe that Chris Mortensen would probably refuse to do so, as well as a few other of their football guys, out of personal respect.

41
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:06pm

39, 40 -

Sign me up on Becephalus' side.

I have absolutely no doubt that the marketing weenies at ESPN looked at this and set the policy for the network - no hounding someone that everyone believes to be a good guy in his moment of turmoil.

I will say that I'm glad that they did. But if they believed for ONE SECOND that it would improve ratings by a tenth of a point, the kid gloves would come off so fast it would make you sick. Chris Mortenson? Don't make me laugh. ESPN makes him a rich man. He would toe the company line. He would sing "The Lumberjack Song" dressed in a tutu carrying a parasol if they told him to. They don't need him - he needs them.

-Sean

42
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:15pm

Sean (b_a, #41 )--

You have no way of knowing that.

Is there something about this topic, that compels you to gratuitously insult people? If so, maybe you need to step away from the keyboard for a while.

43
by kleph (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:57pm

no. 37: there usually is not a heck of a lot of doubt what occured given the method one has chosen to commit suicide. that the rescue crews tried to perform CPR makes it pretty clear what occured.

i imagine that most news outlets who changed the wording of their earlier stories were quite aware that family members and close associates would be learning about what happened through news reports rather than through those close to them.

that said, the redacting of earlier stories is less an issue of tastefullness as legal necessity. until the coroner makes an official declaration of cause of death - something that can take weeks if he chooses to wait for blood test results to come back - it is technically an open case for the law enforcement agencies involved.

44
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 2:12pm

42 -

Wow, I don't think I was gratuitously insulting anyone. I would like to think that I'm a good enough gratuitous insultor to be able to do that when I want to, and to do it better than I have possibly managed in my posts here.

I will happily admit that I was expressing my well-backed-up opinion of how the media presents the "news". I think that I mentioned that I was GLAD that most of the media have not taken that tack, and have instead pointed their boats rather higher in this case.

There is very little on this website or any other that anyone KNOWS about any topic. There are opinions, observations and perspectives, absolutely, but what one person defines as fact is merely an opinion to others and flat-out wrong to some.

If I have insulted you, please understand that I do not know you and do not have any personal axes to grind with you or (almost) anyone else. You have never done anything wrong to me, and even if you had, I don't think it likely that I would waste my valuable-to-me time insulting you on a message board as my way of response. If you take the words of someone you have never met and are unlikely ever to meet as some kind of personal affront, perhaps it is you who need to look away. If I have been gratuitous, you have been specific and direct. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

In the effort of maintaining order and not offending anyone else, though, I will drop out of this thread.

Peace,

Sean

45
by Goober King (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 2:15pm

Some people feel the need to be snarky and cynical no matter what the topic is. Welcome to the Internet.

And my condolences to the Dungy family as well. I've seen what suicide can do to a family, and it's not pretty. I can only imagine what he's going through...

46
by Mshray (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 3:14pm

I have had 2 uncles (one at least 3 times) and one cousin attempt suicide. This strain of mental illness seems to run strong through my dad's side of the family, although our immediate branch hasn't felt it yet. When I was roughly James Dungy's age I had 3 good-but-not-really-close friends successfully commit suicide and another severely cripple herself for life in a failed attempt.

I only say all this because despite my experiences I think suicide, especially among the young, is nearly impossible to 'understand'. For myself I absolutley don't 'understand' anything about the people I know who tried, even my own uncles. This is the great tragedy, because they can't tell you what they were thinking when they did it, including most of the ones who survive their attempt. It can be utterly bewildering and it leaves those behind in a state of complete emotional desolation. There is nothing worse.

Most of the posts on this thread have been very thoughtful, and all I can say is kudos to you all for showing your own humanity at, of all places, an NFL analysis website.

Peace,

Mark

47
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 3:41pm

Sean (#44 )--
Wow, I don’t think I was gratuitously insulting anyone. I would like to think that I’m a good enough gratuitous insultor to be able to do that when I want to, and to do it better than I have possibly managed in my posts here.
That's why they're gratutitous -- you didn't mean to insult anyone, but you managed to, anyway. Let me help you identify them:
I’ve never really thought of Dungy as a great coach, and I’m not a fan of the teams he has worked for, but he has always struck me as a non-a_s in a buisness full of them.
At least two swipes at Dungy, with one of the more backhanded compliments I've seen to balance it.
I will even resist the urge to make derogatory comments about religion being shovelled into the thread. Don’t we get enough of that from the president? Sorry.
I'm going out on a limb and thinking you have a low opinion of the president. So, by comparing all the religious commentors here, and Dungy, for that matter, to GWB, you get to revel in just how much smarter you are than them. Insult no extra charge.
Chris Mortenson? Don’t make me laugh. ESPN makes him a rich man. He would toe the company line. He would sing “The Lumberjack Song� dressed in a tutu carrying a parasol if they told him to. They don’t need him - he needs them.
If I were Chris Mortensen, I'd be pretty insulted. Did you have a specific example of his lack of personal ethics and/or journalistic integrity, or is speculating the worst about a person, not insulting to you?
If you take the words of someone you have never met and are unlikely ever to meet as some kind of personal affront, perhaps it is you who need to look away. If I have been gratuitous, you have been specific and direct. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
I'm not personally affronted. I'm not Dungy. I'm not religious. I'm not Mortensen. I don't know any of these people personally.

But it bothers me that you feel the need to snark at all these people you and I both don't know, so I'm telling you about it. Saying "sorry" and "peace" doesn't make up for generally dumping on them, nor does blaming me for your insensitivity.

I sincerely hope you at least read this thread, so you understand what I'm trying to say.

48
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 4:45pm

47 -

Well, I lied. I would not have continued this nonsense, but I felt that another rip deserved a riposte.

First, you are right, not that it is germane to your point nor to this thread, I do, in fact, have a very low opinion of the president. However, I definitely did not have any intention of comparing anyone in this thread to George W. Bush. If anyone except Starshatterer had the opinion that I was comparing you to a member of the Bush family, or if anyone thought I was denigrating your intelligence or implying I was smarter than anyone else in this thread, I sincerely and humbly apologize. Unless you thought it was a compliment; then I meant it.

If you think Dungy is a great coach, and he thinks he is a great coach, why does my opinion qualify as an insult to you (when I'm certain that it doesn't to him)? I think that Dungy is a good coach (though, as stated, not great) and he seems to be a stand-up guy (as stated, quite a good trait anywhere, especially in the spotlight), I'm just not ready to nominate the man for sainthood (like many seem to be doing) based on that, just because someone close to him died under unknown circumstances. And please, don't turn this into me suggesting he had anything to do with it, or that the circumstances are fishy, I am not saying that at all. I'll come out and say that there are no lines here to read between - I'm saying exactly what I mean.

Let's see, players have been benched, coaches have been fired, and some FO readers and staff have lambasted, reamed and otherwise done their best to coat them all in vitriol. So, for some (I dare say, you?), the slippery slope ends at that level of personal pain and dissapointment.

About Chris Mortensen, I didn't say the guy rapes kids, murders for racial reasons and eats puppies. I said he would do his job if his bosses told him to. His job, 100%, is to make money for ESPN. How on Earth is that "speculating the worst about someone?" If I used colorful terminology, well, I am prone to do that. Live with it or don't. My self-worth is determined by fiat, not consensus. I'm not an elected official.

Finally, I do understand exactly what you are trying to say. You are expressing your opinion just as much as I am expressing mine, but please let me take this paragraph and rephrase it for you:

If I have bothered you, please understand that I do not know you and do not have any personal axes to grind with you or (almost) anyone else. You have never done anything wrong to me, and even if you had, I don’t think it likely that I would waste my valuable-to-me time bothering you on a message board as my way of response. If you take the words of someone you have never met and are unlikely ever to meet as bothersome, perhaps it is you who need to look away. If I have been gratuitous, you have been specific and direct. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Thank you for taking the time to respond cogently, completely and directly. I hope I have done the same and assuaged your worries that I am some kind of heartless, self-righteous, superior monster. I'm really going to be OK, at least my mother says so, and my wife seems to still love me. It may take therapy, but I'm OK with that.

-Sean

49
by J.S. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 5:30pm

I compleley agree with the comment in #8

Tony is a class act and this is a huge tragedy for his entire family.

I hope he and all of his family extened or not have a chance to grieve.

I would not care one iota if he did not coach the rest of the year.

he deserves and needs as much time as he needs to be with his family

50
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 5:56pm

49 -

The deal for Tony, I would guess, is that, as a class act, upstanding guy and good coach, he wants to give his players, his fans and his management as much effort as he can to bring them where they all want to go.

To take it a step further, speaking from experience and as nearly anyone who has gone through a VERY difficult time can tell you, getting on with life and focusing on something tangible and hopeful is much better than dwelling on negativity. Just an idea, but abandoning something that has occupied probably significantly more than 40 hours a week of the last who-knows-how-many years of Dungy's life might not be the best idea for him or anyone else.

That said, his team has clinched through January, and I'm sure his family needs him a lot more than Peyton and Edge do this Christmas. Good luck and best wishes to Dungy, his family, his fans, the Colts and everyone who has had to read my "debates" with SS.

-Sean

51
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:29pm

Re: #50
I agree....Dungy should take a week or two to grieve, then immerse himself back into work with his coworkers and team. It's probably more conducive to healing process than dwelling on negativity. Of course, if he can't stand to go back, well then he can't. But it's probably healthier if he does.

52
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:59pm

51 -

At this time, it's a personal thing and he has to do what works for him. Given that his job has worked for him for a long, long time, I would expect him to somewhat lose himself in that and in his family. You have to go with what you know when your world is upside down. Well, I think.

-Sean

53
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 9:09pm

It gets worse. ESPN reports that the ME issued a preliminary finding determining suicide. The final results will take 4-6 weeks to determine, waiting for lab work. However, he was hospitalized for an attempted suicide in October, taking 14 painkillers. Damn, that just sucks.

-Sean

54
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2005 - 1:02pm

Depression can be a very nasty thing. :(