Dungy to evaluate future in coming days
MIAMI -- Tony Dungy's first Super Bowl celebration gave him a few moments to remember why he still enjoys coaching football.
Looks like the retirement plans can wait.
After getting drenched in the rain, soaked again in Gatorade, and enjoying a sleepless, festive night, the 51-year-old Dungy sounded as if he's ready to do it all again next season.
"I still have a lot of passion and enthusiasm for the game, and after a night like last night, how could you not love it? So I'm not burned out, I'm not tired at all. I'm very fired up and looking forward to coming back. But I'll evaluate it and see where we'll go."
-- Tony Dungy
"Every year, for probably the last three or four years, I've evaluated where I am at the end of the season," he said Monday morning. "I still have a lot of passion and enthusiasm for the game, and after a night like last night, how could you not love it? So I'm not burned out, I'm not tired at all. I'm very fired up and looking forward to coming back. But I'll evaluate it and see where we'll go."
Some may consider that not definitive enough to quash all the speculation that Dungy might retire after winning the elusive championship ring. But it sure sounded as if Dungy was preparing to become the first black coach to chase a second Super Bowl title after becoming the first to win one with Sunday night's 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears.
For Dungy, it was a night to embrace.
He talked about how special it was to watch those final 15 seconds tick off, the thoughts racing through his mind and even a phone call that surprised Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning.
"I was talking to a friend on the phone, and Tony said 'You better take this call,' " Manning said. "I said 'Why?' and he said 'Take this call.' So I hung up on my friend and it was the president congratulating us and inviting us to the White House."
Dungy knew it was coming after White House officials called earlier in the week to make sure they had the right cell phone number.
Not everything went so smoothly.
The weather was the worst in Super Bowl history, with steady rain from start to finish, and it suited Dungy and his Colts just fine. When the slick ball forced them to rein in their potent passing game, their defense and running game assumed a championship-caliber share of the load.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn't seem to mind, either.
"Including the rain, it was a great game, and the elements are part of the game," Goodell said.
Dungy and Manning also showed they could win the big game, shaking labels they've been saddled with for years. Dungy made the breakthrough in his 11th season as a head coach and his fifth with the Colts, until now perennial title contenders and late-season disappointments.
Manning, meanwhile, strengthened his standing among the game's great quarterbacks by winning his first Super Bowl title.
"It has been hard to watch these other teams hoist that trophy," said Manning, who threw for 247 yards and a touchdown. "That's a hard pill to swallow. You have to learn from it and realize how badly you want to be up there."
Manning's younger brother Eli has yet to come close to a title in three seasons with the New York Giants. Their father, Archie, was a star NFL quarterback for 14 years who never reached the playoffs.
Now the family has a ring, thanks to Peyton.
"If people think he needed to win a Super Bowl, that is just wrong," Dungy said. "This guy is a Hall of Fame player and one of the greatest ever."
The Bears (15-4) managed only 11 first downs, committed five turnovers and came up short playing in their first Super Bowl since Walter Payton led them to the title 21 years ago. But Lovie Smith achieved a cultural milestone when he and his former mentor, Dungy, became the first black head coaches to reach the Super Bowl.
Shortly after the game, Smith spoke of returning in 2008.
"We took a big step this year," he said. "Hopefully next season we can take one more step and finish the job."
Dungy sounds ready to spar with Smith again -- if that's what it takes.
"Generally, after a couple of days, you feel like everything is rolling," Dungy said. "I do look forward to helping these guys defend this title."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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