Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Shoot the messenger

I am in an odd position today. I sort of agree with Bob Kravitz. Let's be clear. I think this article is a hatchet job by a man who sees the chance to grab the national spotlight. Bob will be called to do radio shows and interviews, and maybe even PTI(!) where he can spout his opinion. He'll preen, and act like he's uncomfortable. He'll mention that everyone loves Tony Dungy (even though Bob doesn't agree with him about everything!). Then he'll quietly rip him and call him a hypocrite. I think that's deplorable and opportunistic.

Having said that, I don't think Bob's questions are unfair. Tony opened himself up to this. Listen, I don't know the details of his situation. I don't know his family. I do know something of what Tony believes and advocates in a very public manner. I do know that Tony has put himself in a position to receive this kind of examination. It doesn't come with the territory of being an NFL coach, but does with being any kind of spiritual leader in the Christian community.

I am also in a position where almost my top work related goal is to get men to be better husbands and fathers. It's a mantra with me. Because of what I do, I recognize that this starts with me and my life. Tony and I live in very different kinds of places. I live in a dangerous slum; he lives in a gated community. This mere fact changes things for us. I have made it a life rule that I only travel twice a year without my family. I have kids under the age of 4, and live in a place where my wife lacks many conveniences (dish washer and clothes dryer, just to start). It wouldn't be fair of me to say that my rules should apply to Tony. Our wives face different challenges each day. But I do know that if my job required me to be away from my family with great frequency, I'd quit. Tomorrow. I couldn't be a good example to men of how to care for my wife and kids if I wasn't there. And I can't preach what I don't practice.

Again, let me be clear. I'm not drawing a one to one comparison. I'm NOT saying that Dungy is a hypocrite, a bad father, or anything else. It may be that his family will be less stressed, more happy, and better off living in Tampa while he commutes. It certainly sounds like they have taken certain steps to ease the strain that would not be available to the rest of us. I AM saying that he has left the door to criticism open, especially should he continue on after this year. If this really is it, then I don't really have a problem with his decision. If this is going to be a lifestyle, then I think it's questionable.

Is it fair to question a man for his life choices? If he asks you to, then yes. I don't think Kravitz has been fair; I think he's slimy, but it doesn't make him wrong. I'm uncomfortable too.

Demond Sanders: I think this is a bizarre column. Tony Dungy is a man who doesn't make decisions lightly. He is doing what he thinks is right. That's all I ask for out of a man. It is inappropriate for Bob Kravitz or anyone else to question how Tony raises his family.

You argue that because he is a Christian leader and works with the All-Pro Dad program he leaves himself open to criticism. I suppose that is true - he has put himself out there. But that doesn't make it right when people take that opportunity to criticize him.

Would you like it if I used this space to criticize your parenting style? Or decisions you have made regarding your family? After all you have put yourself out there, like Tony has. Of course you wouldn't like it. I could say well, gee, DZ it sounds like you put your family in a dangerous situation. That may not be best thing for the kids or your wife. But you are a man who doesn't make decisions lightly. That's all I ask of people. Only a cheap-shotting punk would publicly criticize how a man raises his kids.

If Bob really cared then he should have left it in private. Tony responded to his criticism by assuring him that he had carefully prayed and considered the issue. It should have been left there, but Bob has papers to sell. You could see this coming from miles away. Bob's been pro-Colts for too long. He was waiting for a slip-up in the playoffs to go back on the attack. This is the second time he's criticized Dungy's fathering in his columns. I think the Star should make sure it is the last time.

DZ Replies: Wow, those are amazingly good points. And you're right. Just because someone is open to criticism doesn't mean you have a green light to commit character assassination. I feel bad for all the divorced dad's who can't be with their kids every day, who Kravitz just implied aren't good fathers and don't put their families first because they can't be with their kids every day. I guess my problem has nothing to do with Tony as a father. I only question whether he can be an effective role model (a role he has invited). Dungy is living a life that is impossible to imitate for most men. Most men with job pressures can't fly a private jet home. I'm certain that Tony is making the right choices for his wife and kids. Demond put it well; he makes serious decisions. If he hadn't taken time off to think about this, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. He could have moved right on with his life, and most of us wouldn't even realize the family had moved. Tony has tried to make his life about more than just HIS family, however. My question, and uncomfortability, lies with whether or not he's putting in jeopardy his ability to serve as a functional role model. Not because he's not a good father or husband, but because he's living a set of circumstances so far removed from the rest of us, that no one could really try and live like him. That's what makes me a little sad. We all, myself very very much included, need men to imitate and show us how to live.


zac said...

Just read the article and honestly I think Bob is a bit of a punk. Classic case of trying to have it both ways, criticizing a man for making a business decision that impacts his family without actually coming out and saying anything of substance.

Now, I have issues with Tony about football, namely how his squads have laid giant turds on the field in the playoffs multiple times, but I don't question his devotion to his family.

And if Bob does, then he should come out and say it. Enough of this cloak and dagger BS, Kravitz, either say what you think or shut the hell up.

JC said...

Wow. What a dead-on-balls article.

I'm not saying this as an antagonist, believe me. But the national sentiment about this guy is pretty much what Lenny said.

A bible-thumping, preachy hypocrite. He "prayed through it"? Makes me sick.

How about he just made a pragmatic, monetarily based decision to come back and coach an uber-talented team?

Anyhow - the article was a little aggressive. But to his credit, he asked the toughest questions at the press conference (I heard them asked, didn't know who it was until I read the column) then came correct in the next day's edition.

But I'm glad someone went after Dungy. He's gotten a free pass for way too long.

Demond Sanders said...

A free pass on what? Tony's a good dude and a Super Bowl champion as a player and coach.

You've been anti-Dungy since your first post on this blog. Frankly, you've said more than enough over the past year to prove that you are a racist. Constantly referring to Dungy as "ashy."

What's wrong with you? I'm embarrassed to have you as a reader.

zac said...

jc has his finger on the pulse of national sentiment.

That's hilarious because the broad national view of Dungy is that of the classy, cool, calm and collected head coach who has been extremely successful.

There is a world outside of NE, and as the Simpsons would say, there is a country in between the West Coast and East Coast that is called America. All of those people like, respect, and admire Dungy.

JC said...

He is ashy! It's not like I made that up. Look at him, especially in HD.

And I'm not raicst DZ.

I dislike Dungy for the same reason I dislike Huckabee.

I don't like having God thrown in my face.

Doesn't mean I don't think he's the best, or second best coach in football. I do.

Deshawn Zombie said...

I'm sorry that someone praying about something makes you sick.

I'm really sorry the media got a hold of this story and made it a big deal.

The plan always was for him to finish after next year. He made a hard choice for the good of his son to let him change schools early so he didn't have to do it his senior year. He always evaluates after each season what he's going to do. If he hadn't "prayed" and considered next year, and just sent his family down to Tampa a year early, this wouldn't even have been a story. You are calling him a preachy hypocrite for taking time to sit back and consider thoughtfully his actions and what he really wanted to do. I think that is inexplicable.

I think Tony's choice weakens not his family, nor his team, but his ability to have others follow his example. That's what makes me uncomfortable. I wish he would live a life that was a little more relevant to the common man, but only because that is a course that he set himself on. I think he's made himself hard to follow on this point. That's too bad.

JC said...

Sorry, I meant Demond.

Anonymous said...

And DZ:

Your hyperlink the other day read "Non-story".

You couldn't have been more right.

Who cares, everyone knew he wasn't going out like that.

- J

Deshawn Zombie said...

DS called you a racist, not me. Get your initials right! LOL.

There's a big difference between Dungy and Huckabee. Dungy says, this is my life. This how I live. This is what's important to me. He takes stands on issues as a citizen when speaking to a group of people who agreed with him, which is his right. He didn't march around shouting his mind or his beliefs. He was asked to give them. He did. He was begged to write a book. He did. People liked it.

Huckabee is trading his faith for votes. That disturbs me greatly. He is asking that his views be adopted as everyone's. I have a problem with that, and with him. I like it when people of faith, share their faith. I don't like when they use it to attain politcal power.

Don't throw everyone in the same boat just because they speak the same language. I'm sure lots of people would claim both Dungy and Huckabee, as is their right. I see them as very different kinds of men.

Deshawn Zombie said...

The only thing that's changed from this year to last year with Tony Dungy is that he's decided his family is better off living in Tampa than in Indy. That's the change. Coaching the Colts isn't the change. If he decides his family is better off somewhere else for reasons he doesn't care to discuss, that doesn't make him a hypocrite or a bad father. It just means that his life circumstances are really different from the rest of us. It makes it hard to follow his example, sure. But not becuase his example is bad necessarily, it's just too far removed from most of our realites and circumstances to be relevant.

It seems that people would have been ok with him forcing his family to stay in Indy so he could coach one more year, but they aren't ok with him moving them to Tampa where they would be happier for whatever reason? Again, the whole story is nothing. The Tampa paper caught wind of some family business and turned it into a bigger story.

I'm probably just repeating myself, but I thought that was a clearer way of stating things.

Bob M. said...

I may be mistaken, but all-pro dad is focused on inner city, at-risk youth, right? Big difference between them and the educated, affluent offspring of an edcuated, "grounded" millionaire dad who has proven repeatedly that he puts a high priority on his kids.
It's like holding a 1984 Yugo and a 2007 Mercedes to the same standards. The Mercedes is a known quantity--you can probaby go 130 MPH if you really have to, or skip an oil change or two... the Yugo? You're taking your life in your hands if you do. It needs more TLC.
It's not like TD is abandoning his family. I agree that this move opens TD up to some questioning, but sheesh, show some flexibility, jc & Kravitz.
I imagine if one of these at-risk dads came to TD for advice and said "Hey, I love my kids, but I have this job opportunity that is 1,000 miles away from home. They're better off staying at home, but I think I need to do this for 9 months a year for the next couple years. Then I'm theirs full-time. (Plus I'll bank enough in the next two years to pay for college for the next seven generations of progeny)."
What would Tony say? Leaving conversations with a higher power out of this, my best guess is along the lines of "If you think it's best and they think it's best...." This is not a one-size fits all universe, people.
Questioning him is fine--possibly even required to get further understanding. Calling him a hypocrite is way too harsh.
I imagine he'd preach "don't take the easy way out" and "do the best thing," which may not always be what others perceive as the best thing. In this case, the Dungies know TD best and if he retired today it might be the "easy way out" and he might have this ember burning in him the next ten years to get back into the game. Maybe they figure let it burn itself out so he can retire and truly "be" with his family and not looking over their shoulders for coaching openings as so many guys do. That's just a for-instance, I have no measure of the reality of their decision-making matrix. Maybe he's still working through the suicide (it's only been 14 months!) and work is the only way they all agree he can face it without breaking down. I have no idea. Sometimes what's best for the kids ALSO HAPPENS TO BE what's best for the parents. Sadly, there's no way to prove it except maybe by waiting 20 years or so.... and in 20 years we'll all have forgotten this tempest in a teapot.

colts girl said...

I have to agree with Bob M. The All-Pro Dad campaign is focused on trying to reach dads who are otherwise basically just sperm donors. It's aimed at getting men who generally avoid their kids (or any responsibility for them) to own up to their responsibility and become better, more-involved fathers (and to realize the benefits of doing so). There are a lot of ugly statistics surrounding inner-city fathers' (especially black fathers')involvement in their kids' lives. All-Pro Dad is one of many programs aimed at encouraging those and other dads to be involved in their kids' lives for both the kids' betterment and for the dads' as well. There's definitely a huge gap between the guy who avoids his kids on purpose (to avoid having to pay for them, to avoid any sort of responsibility, to avoid his ex-wife/girlfriend/whatever) and Tony Dungy being temporarily separated from his kids with his capabilities.

Something else to consider? Do you know how many hours a head football coach puts in during the season? It's nuts. And not just a little nuts. 80 hours? 100 hours? More? Yup. This is not a guy who probably gets to be around his family as much as he'd like during the season anyhow. I'm not sure being this far away will be an enormous change.

And it's for a year. One year. Almost certainly no longer than that. It's a compromise for the whole family, certainly, but one that they seem to have considered carefully. I can't imagine that it's easy for anyone to make that sort of decision, and I think it's pretty rough to criticize someone for doing what he and his family have agreed upon as the right course of action. Maybe it will be hard for people to understand, but for me it's simple: his family is happier in Tampa (I'm not sure how, as I like Indy very much, and I have been to Tampa--maybe it's the cold), so they're moving back there as soon as they deem appropriate for their family, and he will join them full-time as soon as he and his family feel the time is right. You can't say he's not a stand-up dad for doing what's right for his family, even if it's hard.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that Tony D is a better father than Tom Brady.


coltsfanawalt said...

Ha! Stan, you just made my day. Hilarious post, my friend!

King Ding Aling said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Deshawn Zombie said...

I debated responding to that last comment. Instead I'm deleting it.

Deshawn Zombie said...

Keep posting, I'll keep deleting it. If you want to know why, send me your email address and I'll respond to you privately. 18to88@gmail.com.

King Ding Aling said...

Don't worry Deshawn keep praying I am sure that will get you over the fact your coach is a bad dad.

King Ding Aling said...

Don't worry Deshawn keep praying I am sure that will get you over the fact your coach is a bad dad.

Deshawn Zombie said...

He's not as bad a dad as you are person.

King Ding Aling said...

Actually he is. Think it over it is self evident why he is a BAD father.

Deshawn Zombie said...

You aren't welcome here. Your points are neither:

a. valid
b. constructive
c. interesting
d. funny

I'll take any of the above. Since you are incable of meeting the criteria, you can post somewhere else.

Deshawn Zombie said...

Comment moderation has temporarily been enabled in this blog.

This is our blog. People can write us emails with whatever horrible crap they want, but when it comes to what is public, there are things we won't even tacitly endorse. KDA crossed that line without even considering what his comments might imply or how they would affect others. Somethings don't deserve to read. We tolerate dissent pretty well around here, but what was written was hateful toward a lot of parents who have suffered deeply. It went beyond football and this debate, to mock and insult wounded people. I won't stand for it.