MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Five-thousand people packed into Eden Prairie’s Grace Church Saturday morning to hear Tony Dungy speak – part of a program called “Rise with the Guys.” Dungy flourished as an NFL coach, and he’s still flourishing.

Leslie Frazier learned while coaching with Tony Dungy, and he still receives frequent phone calls from his mentor. Dungy certainly has advice for the Vikings head coach.

“This is really the tough time, because you’re so focused when things haven’t gone exactly the way you want them,” Dungy said. “You got to just keep working and get it turned around. But now you see the light at the end of the tunnel and you just say, ‘We need one more piece,’ or ‘We’re close.’ And that’s when got to really be diligent, make sure you’re doing things the same way.”

Next week is the NFL Draft, which means scouts have been blanketing the country. The goal of a coach is to fortify and win in the draft – which starts with what you decide to prioritize: talent or character?

“Talent, you need it obviously. But I had seven teams in Indiana, and our Super Bowl team was probably number five in terms of talent, if you just looked at it that way,” he said. “But that was a group that was close, it was together, you had great character guys. And so that’s what you got to keep adding, and that’s what the Vikings need to do. You want talented guys to come in, but guys who are going to buy in to how you’re doing things, that are going to be great teammates. And if you get that, they’re gonna be rolling.”

Dungy says that if you want to know the true character of a player, talk with the equipment manager from his college team.

“He sees everything,” Dungy said. “He sees behind the scenes, how they are in the locker room. Are they someone who needs to be waited on all the time, or are they someone who’s going to be a good teammate?”

What Dungy has also learned is that there is life after football. He is by all accounts one of the most respected to come through the game.

A man of deep faith and conviction, he’s created his own in-demand pulpit from which to preach. And he feels he’s done his best work since leaving the coaching profession.

“Today I read a letter that I got right at the end of my coaching career from a lady who saw a PSA and went to a homeless shelter, and ended up adopting a little boy,” he said. “With letters like that, you realize that there’s a lot more significant things going on in life than winning Super Bowls or winning one more game. And not that it wasn’t fun, not that it wasn’t great. But I just felt there are other things the lord had in store for me.”


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