Tony Dungy recently shared how his mother's favorite Bible verse influenced his life and legendary career as an NFL player and coach and credited God with his incredible success.
The 60-year-old two-time Super Bowl winner was among those inducted into the league's Hall of Fame this weekend. During his inspirational speech, Dungy shared how his Christian faith guides his life, both off and on the field.
"[W]hen I got the news, my first thoughts were of all the people God placed in my path to help make this possible," he said of the honor. "It started in Jackson, Michigan, and I couldn't have had a better upbringing. I'm just sorry that my parents, Wilbur and Cleomae Dungy, aren't alive to see this, because they'd be so proud."
He added, "My mom taught us as a Christian, your character, your integrity and how you honor God were so much more important than your job title. One of her favorite Bible verses was Matthew 16:26: 'What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul. And I know that she's happy to know that her son never forgot that verse."
Dungy, who is the first black head coach elected to the NFL Hall of Fame, shared three particular instances where God used disappointment to help him grow.
He discussed how he went undrafted in 1977 as a quarterback out of the University of Minnesota, but was eventually signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two years later, he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers and then to the New York Giants. By 1980, his playing career was over, and Dungy decided to coach. He was named head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996, but lost his job after a playoff loss after the 2001 season. However, God used a "painful disappointment" to "lead me to a blessing."
He went on to coach the Indianapolis Colts and their star quarterback, Peyton Manning, from 2002 to 2008, and became the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl in 2007 before retiring after the 2008 season.
"The Lord has led me on a wonderful journey through 31 years in the NFL, through some temporary disappointments to some incredible joys," he said.
During his February address at the Super Bowl 50 breakfast, Dungy further shared how God has used a number of tragedies - such as the suicide of his 18-year-old son and the health issues of his 15-year-old son - to bring him closer to Himself.
"God is there for you also, and is waiting for us to say, 'I need to follow the Lord and have things respond in the right way,'" he told attendees. "if you follow the Lord, you're going to be okay."
He quoted Mark 8:36, which states, "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?"
"If football is your entire life, and you don't have a relationship with the Lord, you're going to be messed up, no matter how your life turns out," he stressed. "Even if you achieve fame and riches, if you forfeit your soul, it won't profit you.
"Where are you in terms of the Lord spiritually?" he asked before concluding in prayer. "That's the most important thing in life."