More Summer Reading (Better Hurry) Tony Dungy & James Blake

By
Updated: July 30, 2007

MORE SUMMER READING

( BETTER HURRY )

TONY DUNGY & JAMES BLAKE

Tony Dungy THE NEW TONY DUNGY BOOK

Yes thank God

some of us do

anyway Summer

will soon be over

but still time for

more summer

READING

As you get ready for those frosty days of Fall ( where we live anyway ) and FOOTBALL he said F O O T B A L L which quickly brings us to one of today’s featured books. First up the Head Coach of the SuperBowl Champion Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy’s new book “Quiet Strength.”

And today we are going to let

Tony speak for himself

right here in the Box

about his book and life

as he recently did

in Newsweek ….

Why open the book getting fired in Tampa Bay rather than winning the Super Bowl?

People think when you win a Super Bowl it’s your defining moment. For me, that spot in Tampa at the end of 2001 season was about what direction my life would go from there. I had lived in a way where I believed that God was doing something special with my life. But now where was I going? Starting there was a way to show people that what’s great about sports is that you don’t win every game—that part of it is disappointment.

Race appears to have been an obstacle for you over the years to getting where you wanted.

Certainly race was part of it. But it wasn’t just a minority issue. I think it was also style. For years and years in the NFL the coach had to project a certain image. You very much had to be someone who intimidated people. You’ve got these big brutish guys and they only stay in line if they’re afraid of the coach. If the coach isn’t somebody who can control them, then they’re not going to perform. So when I talked about going in and getting the right type of guys, and we’re going to win ’cause we’re going to create a family atmosphere where they’re going to really like each other and play for each other, well, not everybody related to that.

What do you believe is essential to convey to your team?

That being a great player is not the most important thing. What we do is important and it’s going to feed your family, but it’s not going to define who you are. I know for a fact that to the guys I played with in the ’70s who have Super Bowl rings, the most important thing is not that we won those games at the end of the year, but what’s going on in their lives and what they are doing now with their families. That’s going to be way more long-lasting than whether we win that last game.

Did you reveal to prospective bosses that, to your mind, winning wasn’t everything?

I remember one specific interview where the owner said, “This is my football team and it means everything to me and I want it to mean that much to you.” I said, “Hey, it’s very, very important to me, but it’s not the most important thing and it never will be.” He asked me to explain and nodded as if he understood, but that interview was pretty much over there.

How did your son’s death test your faith?

It really makes you think, “Do I really believe what I say?” I counseled so many other guys and said, “Your bedrock faith is what gets you through.” And suddenly it’s happening with us and can I follow my own advice. I have a good friend who says, “It’s easy to say that you have faith that God will provide when your refrigerator is full.” It’s not until the time that you don’t have anything that you really know. When [Jamie's death] happened, it was a test to see if we really believed.

Now that you’ve won the Super Bowl, how do you put it in perspective?

For me, it’s something I tell my players all the time. My favorite verse in the Bible is Matthew 16:26: “What would it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul?” I never wanted our players to think the Super Bowl was the ultimate. I always talk about “Yes, we’re going to win, but what are we going to do as we’re winning? What are we going to do after we win?” Winning the Super Bowl is not the destination. It’s not an end point. It’s what you do from here.

But the victory does seem to have given you newly elevated stature.

At the post game press conference, someone said, “Do you think this compares with Jackie Robinson?” And I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” But the more I’ve gone on, I realize that 30 years from now, people will talk about this, that they remember back in ’07 when the Colts won with an African American coach and nobody had done that before. And I started thinking it’s similar—still not in that category, but similar. It’s crossing a landmark in a sport that is very popular.

But the victory does seem to have given you newly elevated stature.

At the post game press conference, someone said, “Do you think this compares with Jackie Robinson?” And I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” But the more I’ve gone on, I realize that 30 years from now, people will talk about this, that they remember back in ’07 when the Colts won with an African American coach and nobody had done that before. And I started thinking it’s similar—still not in that category, but similar. It’s crossing a landmark in a sport that is very popular.

If you don’t want to derive your identity from football, how do you want to be seen?

Probably just like my dad, a teacher who helped students become better and reach their potential. And someone who helps make the places he lives a little bit better.

These quotes from Tony only hint at what the book delivers. You have to immerse yourself in his life as you can only do reading the hundreds of pages Dungy delivers in “Quiet Strength.” Tony Dungy exemplifies the very best in Football today Black or White and with many years ahead of him all you can do is wonder the accomplishments yet to come. Read his new book !

At a lower level of accomplishment and much younger Black Tennis Star James Blake his delivered a biography of the first part of his life the part so far that at least one reviewer has called the best sports book ever. Well that may be a bit much but on the other hand unless you read ” Breaking Back: How I lost Everything and Won Back My Life ” you will never know..

With Blake’s new book his memoirs rather than an interview here are some key passages from the recent The New York Times Sunday Book section review of “Breaking Back.” ………

” Blake is easily the best African American male player since Arthur Ashe, but “Breaking Back” is about more than tennis and race. That’s because Blake, like Ashe, is smarter and deeper than most athletes, and also because in 2004 Blake lived his own year of magical thinking. First, in a freak accident on a wet clay court in Rome, as he ran for a drop shot he tripped and flew headfirst toward the net post. He turned his head at the last second and dodged paralysis by inches, crashing into the steel pole with his neck.

. “I wanted to do a quick analysis of the situation, but my mind was whirring much too quickly. I was strangely disconnected from the world around me, in a place beyond pain and discomfort. I hadn’t quite blacked out, but my eyes were closed and the darkness was comforting, transporting. Deep down, almost subconsciously, I was aware that I had just suffered a serious injury, and that once I opened my eyes, there was a terrible reality to be confronted. ”

” So I lingered in the darkness, putting off the inevitable for just a few seconds.” His neck broken, Blake returned to his hometown in Connecticut to spend time with his father, who was dying of stomach cancer. ”

” After his death, Blake developed zoster (shingles), which paralyzed the left side of his face. He ended up going back to tennis’s minor leagues, the Challenger Series, to get his career going again. Soon he was back in the majors, with more confidence and maturity.”

While praising the book the reviewer has some criticism . ……

” The problem with memoirs by active athletes is that guys still in the locker room feel bound to keep that world a secret, and Blake is no different. I longed for a few stories from behind the scenes about Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, even that rascal Vince Spadea, but no. Blake says: “The ATP Tour is like a kind of traveling neverland, where no one forces you to grow up. So a lot of the guys are indistinguishable from overgrown adolescents.” But he never elaborates.” Maybe a deeper criticism is that Blake largely avoids dealing with race unlike the other recent tennis book ” Charging The Net.” Also worth reading.

So that’s it you cannot go wrong reading GOOD sports books even more since there are so many BAD sports books written if written is even the word for all those ghost written gooey PR driven phony book length fabrications so many athletes are encouraged to “author.” (sic)..

As summer dwindles

to a few ‘precious’ weeks

( the faster the better )

just enough time to

read both these

books before turning

all your attention to

FOOTBALL

Whenever you want to reach us with comments or better yet an idea for a topic for the Box ……. blackbox@blackathlete.net

AND JAMES BLAKE’S NEW BOOK