Vikings coach Mike Tice opened his Thursday press conference with an emotional look at his own family life after the death of James Dungy, the son of Tice's former coaching colleague, Tony Dungy.
James Dungy, 18, was found dead in his Tampa-area apartment at 1:30 a.m. Thursday, and Tony Dungy flew to Tampa Thursday morning.
Tony Dungy's loss hit throughout the NFL community, including Minnesota, where he was a standout quarterback at the University of Minnesota in the mid-1970s and was the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-95. During that time, he impacted his players and fellow coaches with his kind, calm demeanor that was rooted in his religious beliefs.
James' death left an impression on Tice, who began his Thursday press conference with tears in his eyes, eventually wiping them off his face while talking of his own family and the impact the death of a youth brings to many who knew him. After speaking for just over one minute, Tice walked away from the podium and left the media room for a minute to compose himself. Tice talked of his wife Diane, daughter Adriene and son Nate, who attended the Manning quarterback camp with another of Dungy's sons, Eric, last summer.
"This morning I was talking to Diane about Nate's basketball game, which was moved to 4:30 and we were talking about, ‘You've got to finish that practice tape and you probably should miss (Nate's basketball) game. I told her I could get up early tomorrow and finish the practice tape, that I wanted to see Nate's game. Then I came into work and found out about James Dungy, Tony's son. Then it makes you realize that, yeah, I need to go to the game because this is football, this is a job and really puts into perspective what I do, what Tony does and what you guys do – this is a job.
"Your family and God are so much more important than your job. With that said, it's been a tough morning for me," said Tice, who then excused himself from the media room and took a minute to gather himself.
When he returned, Tice spoke briefly of the Dungys again.
"What a great family – I'm shocked, just shocked. … I'm not like Tony Dungy's best friend, but I will tell you that Tony and I are friends. He was one of the guys that called me when things weren't going too well. Tony is just top-notch," he said.
University of Minnesota athletics director Joel Maturi issued the following statement:
"The entire University of Minnesota athletic department is deeply saddened by the passing of James Dungy. The Dungy family will always be a part of Golden Gopher athletics and our thoughts and prayers are with Tony, his wife Lauren and their family during this difficult time. Tony is a caring individual who is dedicated to his family, and the loss of his son will affect all of us."
Indianapolis assistant Jim Caldwell will coach the Colts on an interim basis while Tony Dungy deals James' death.
Dungy's Loss Affects Tice
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