Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, announced his retirement on Monday after seven National Football League seasons guiding the Indianapolis Colts.
The 53-year-old has contemplated retirement after each of the past few seasons, including after the Colts won the 2007 Super Bowl.
But this time, he decided it was time to quit, informing club owner Jim Irsay of his decision last weekend.
“I’ve been blessed to have played and coached in the NFL for 31 years,” Dungy said before tearing up with emotion. “I thought I would make it further than the first sentence.”
The Colts went 92-33 under Dungy and made the playoffs in each of his seven seasons since arriving in 2002 after six years as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“These seven years have been better than I could have ever imagined,” Dungy said.
“My wife and I talked about it and felt it was the right time[to quit],” Dungy said. “It is a chance to do other things, to be at home a bit more. I have a real peace about it.”
“It has been an incredible journey,” Irsay said.
The Colts went from NFL doormats to consistent contenders under Dungy and became one of the top offensive teams in the NFL.
“This is a time for all of us that worked with him to say farewell to a role model and a cherished friend,” said Colts president Bill Polian. “His unshakable faith and optimism inspired us all.”
Associate coach Jim Caldwell will replace Dungy in guiding the Colts, who were eliminated from this season’s NFL playoffs on Jan. 3 with a 23-17 over-time loss to San Diego.
Dungy said the playoff defeat had prompted him to wonder about another campaign.
“The initial feeling was not to go out like that,” he said, adding that his aim this season was to go out on top. “My goal was to win the Super Bowl and walk off the field at Tampa where it started.”
Dungy said he was particularly proud of the way his team had interacted with the community in Indianapolis.
“Our goal was to win, to win a Super Bowl, but also to win in the right way, to be role models to our community, to represent Indianapolis, the state of Indiana and the National Football League,” he said.