Coach Dungy poses for a picture with Annette Watkins and Sheila Morgan.
Coach Dungy poses for a picture with Annette Watkins and Sheila Morgan.
Faith in God and the role talent and teamwork play on the football field and in life was the message given by Tony Dungy, former Super Bowl champion head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, to over 400 people Friday night in the coliseum.

Dungy, now an analyst for NBC's "Football Night in America," was the keynote speaker of the "Laying the Foundation: An Evening With Coach Tony Dungy" event, hosted by East Central Community College.

The sold-out event served as a fundraiser for a new $4.8 million football operations center at EC.

Following a steak and lobster dinner for attendees, Dungy took the stage, recalling the words his high school coach spoke on his own first day on the team.

"Talent is God given," he said. "Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful, because it's not all about you."

This theme of talent and teamwork was the centerpiece of Dungy's speech.

Dungy recalled the words of University of Minnesota coach Cal Stoll when he was a member of his team: "Success is uncommon and not to be enjoyed by the common man. I'm looking for uncommon people because we want to be successful, not average."

Dungy said there were two ways to be uncommon: have talent that God has given you or have the desire and drive to push yourself.

"The second one's me," he said.

Dungy said he had such a good college football career that he was sure he had a shot at the NFL because he pushed himself.

"Unfortunately, the draft came and went without my name being called," he said. "It was the first major disappointment of my football career."

However, two days later Dungy received a call from the Pittsburgh Steelers to be a free agent.

This deal enticed him and he knew then that it was part of God's plan for him.

During his time with the Steelers, Dungy played under another Super Bowl winning coach, Chuck Noll.

Noll, he recalled, came out the first day and welcomed the players to the NFL. Then he surprised the team members by saying football was not their life.

As time went on, Dungy said, he learned that Noll believed his job was not to be a great coach but instead to train young men.

After a short period with the San Francisco 49ers, Dungy accepted an assistant coaching position with the University of Minnesota.

He later returned to the Steelers as an assistant coach.

"I thought I would have a great future," he said, of his coaching career.

After signing his contract, Dungy asked Noll what his job was.

Noll said: "To help players play better."

Dungy said he did just that for eight years, getting to know his players and making them better.

A distinguished career followed, includes coaching the Super Bowl XLI winning Indianapolis Colts against the Chicago Bears.

Dungy then shifted his speech to East Central Community College and the school's football program.

He said that ECCC head football coach Ken Karcher, his longtime friend, was all about making his team better players and people.

"He will help them grow in four ways: academically, athletically, socially and spiritually," Dungy said.

Part of that task includes building a new football operations center on the EC campus.

"It will benefit all and is an investment in all young men," Dungy said, noting he spent the day with EC President Dr. Billy Stewart.

Dungy praised the Christian principles in the NFL when he was a player as opposed to now where there is a lack of church and fathers among other positive influences on players.

That, he said, is a big niche that EC can fill.

"You never know what difference changing one person's life will make," he said.

After he ended his speech, Dungy was joined on stage by Dr. Stewart, who presented the former NFL coach with an honorary EC jersey.

Stewart thanked Dungy and asked him if he would consider returning once the football center was complete.

Dungy agreed.

Estimated to cost $4.8 million, the new facility will be located in the north end of Bailey Stadium and will include a state-of-the-art weight room and athletic training facility for all student-athletes.

Also included in the plans is a $1 million turf field to replace the existing grass surface.

Stewart ended the night by stating the event was a "rousing" success.

"This has been a message of hope and a sign of a great future ahead," he said.

Besides the speaking and dinner, the event featured a silent auction of items, including sports memorabilia, like a Sports Illustrated magazine signed by Archie Manning, and specialty items, like a guitar signed by musician Jon Bon Jovi.

The auction also included a trip to the Kentucky Derby as well as tickets to an NFL game. Serving as corporate sponsors for the event were Rush Health Systems (Gold Sponsor), Anderson Regional Medical Center (Silver Sponsor) and Valley Services, Inc. (Bronze Sponsor). There were also 17 table sponsors.