Dungy opts to stay with Indianapolis



By Michael Marot

INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Dungy is sticking with the Colts.

Dungy announced Monday he would coach Indianapolis through at least the 2008 season and possibly longer before turning over the duties to hand-picked successor Jim Caldwell.

Dungy, the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, spent a week meeting with his family, close friends and trusted colleagues while deciding whether to return for a seventh season with the Colts.

It’s the third straight year Dungy seriously considered retiring.”I wouldn’t come back if my wife or my children were not for it.”

The debate focused on Dungy’s desire to balance family and football, especially after his family moved back to Tampa earlier this month.

But Dungy said he didn’t plan to alter his approach to his family, his job or his team.

Dungy is the first coach in Colts history to make the playoffs and win at least 10 games six consecutive years. He has won five straight AFC South titles, taking the Colts to two AFC championship games, and winning last year’s Super Bowl.

Dungy’s 80 wins in Indianapolis, including the playoffs, are a franchise record, and he ranks fifth in victories among those who coached in 2007 with 136 career wins, which includes playoffs. He enters next season tied for 19th in career wins with Hank Stram.

Caldwell has been the quarterbacks coach the last six seasons and has had the title of assistant head coach the past three years. Now he’ll get another new title, associate head coach, and the Colts have signed him to a contract that will keep him with the organization for the foreseeable future.

Early reports suggested Dungy would coach only one more season, but Irsay, team president Bill Polian and Dungy denied that. Dungy signed a three-year contract extension in 2005 that runs through the 2009 season.

Under Dungy, the Colts became the first team in league history to win at least 12 games in five consecutive years. Their season ended with a 28-24 loss to San Diego in last week’s AFC divisional playoff.

Before joining Indy, Dungy spent six seasons at Tampa Bay, becoming that team’s career-victory leader (54) while turning around one of the league’s worst franchises.

“We love coach Dungy,” NFL defensive player of the year Bob Sanders said last week.