Sat, Dec 24, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Son of Tony Dungy dies while at home

THE WORST LOSSA sheriff's deputy gave James Dungy CPR before an ambulance took him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead

AP , LUTZ, FLORIDAAP, NEW YORKAP AND NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE,NEW YORK

Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman gets set to pass against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, on Sunday. It was Grossman's first appearance since being injured in a pre-season game.

PHOTO: EPA

James Dungy, the 18-year-old son of Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, was found dead after an apparent suicide on Thursday, the sheriff's office said.

James Dungy's girlfriend found him when she returned to the Campus Lodge Apartments at about 1:30am, Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

"Based on evidence at the scene, indications are that this death appears to be a suicide," Carter said. She said an autopsy was pending.

Dungy wasn't breathing when he was found, Carter said. A sheriff's deputy performed CPR before an ambulance took him to University Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Tony Dungy took the team plane from Indianapolis to Tampa, Florida, where he had coached the NFL's Buccaneers from 1996 to 2001.

The Colts (13-1) travel to Seattle for a game today, and team president Bill Polian said assistant head coach Jim Caldwell will take over "for however long Tony will be away, and however long he will be away is entirely up to him."

Dungy is immensely popular around the NFL and known for his soft-spoken style, ever-steady leadership and commitment to balancing family life with football -- a rare trait in NFL coaches. He shared the blame when Indianapolis lost its first game on Sunday against the visiting San Diego Chargers, ending what had been a perfect season.

The Dungys have four other children: Daughters Tiara and Jade and sons Eric and Jordan. James, their second-oldest child, was taking extension classes at the University of South Florida.

Two other NFL head coaches lost close family members this season, both in November. Don Parcells, brother of Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, died of brain cancer in New Jersey at age 62; Steve Belichick, father of New England Patriots' coach Bill Belichick, died at 86.

A month ago, the Washington Redskins had a 5-6 record and were tied for last in the NFC East division.

Now they are 8-6 and can clinch a NFL playoff spot on Saturday and give themselves at least a chance for the division title as they seek their fourth straight win. The third was a 35-7 victory last week over Dallas, the team they most like to beat.

This week's game is against the New York Giants, another division opponent they'll be motivated to beat after a 36-0 thrashing administered in the Meadowlands on Oct. 30. That was five days after the death of Wellington Mara, the Giants' longtime owner -- New York was inspired and Washington wasn't.

New York (10-4) leads Washington by two games in the division and needs only a victory on Saturday or in the finale at Oakland to clinch it. If Washington wins both (at Philadelphia the final week) and New York loses both, Washington wins it with a better division record.

But both could get at least a NFC wild-card spot this week if Washington wins.

In that scenario, New York would make the playoffs if Minnesota loses, or Tampa Bay loses and Chicago wins. Washington would get in with that win and losses by Minnesota, Dallas and Tampa Bay.

"I thought we had the potential to do something," says 43-year-old Ray Brown, who will start at right guard for Washington in place of Randy Thomas, lost for the season with a broken leg. "It looks like we're heading that way. It's not all over, said and done, but it's all in front of us, and I'm glad to be a part of a team that's playing for something in December."

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