Tony Dungy's 'Mentor Leader' Approach to Life

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 6, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: How are you? Good to see you, Coach.

TONY DUNGY, FORMER HEAD COACH, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: I'm doing well. Thank you. Good to be back.

HANNITY: Well, it's an honor to have you. I'm a big fan and a huge admirer of yours and your work. And this is a great book, you know, because it's about life. And sports in so many ways reflect life doesn't it?

DUNGY: It really does. And we tried to put it together, the mentor leader. And sometimes people look at that as being an oxymoron. That if you're the leader, you can't work closely with people. You can't mentor them. I can't get close and help you. And in my mind that's what a leader does. He's helping his guys, and that's what we tried to get across, and that's what the book is about.

HANNITY: Well, you talk about that. But you lead by example through step-by-step teaching. And so you walk them through. And like for example, what would you tell your -- your -- the kids that I call them kids, that you were coaching when you were the coach of the Colts?

DUNGY: This is how we're going to win. We're not going to fool people. We're not going to come up with exotic stuff. We're going to do what we do a little better than everybody else. We're going to be a closer knit unit than everybody else. When the going gets tough, we're going to stick together, and that's how we're going to win. And teach and encourage. Those are the two things --

HANNITY: And you were a little bit of an anomaly. You didn't curse the team. And you had high standards in how they had to treat each other, right?

DUNGY: We really did. And that's what we felt was going to be our advantage. And I tried to show them, "Hey, No. 1, I can help you. I know what I'm doing. But I care about you, and I want you to be the best you can be." And once your guys believe that, whether it's a family, whether it's business, whether it's a sports team. If people believe you're there to help them and you can help them, you're going to get that loyalty.

HANNITY: You said, "If you take only one thing from this book, let it be this: relationship -- relationships are ultimately what matters. Our relationship with God and with other people. The key to becoming a mentor and a leader is learning how to put other people first." It's pretty simple, but it's profound on the other hand.

DUNGY: Simple, straightforward, right from the Bible. That's what Christ did. I'm here to serve and help. And I think it works.

HANNITY: It's proved. You've got a pretty good track record, Coach. I think it does.

A lot has been made of the fact, Michael Vick. Very talented quarterback. Got in all this trouble. You took him on as a mentor to him. I love dogs. I've got to be honest, that killed me. And recently, he's gotten into a little more trouble. How's he doing?

DUNGY: Michael is actually doing well. He's going in the right direction. I think going to Philadelphia has been great for him. Their organization has put people in place to help him and help him grow. And that's what it's all about.

And I think so often we don't understand that with -- especially these young athletes they have not had the mentoring. They have not had that discipling that you and I would take for granted, we got from our parents.

And so to come alongside and say, "Michael, tell me what you want to do. What do you want to do in life? How do you want to help the younger generation? OK, if you want to do that..."

HANNITY: Is he a different person, really?

DUNGY: I think he is.

HANNITY: One of the things that I see as an outsider to professional sports. I'm a fan of sports. I love -- I love sports. I've loved them my whole life -- is, you watch these athletes. All of a sudden they've got fame, they've got fortune, they've got money, they've got women throwing themselves at them. You're a Christian first; you make that very, very clear.

And what do you tell these young guys when they walk out of the locker room and there's you know -- you know, a hundred great-looking women that are looking to take them home that night, to be blunt here.

DUNGY: You have to talk about that. That's what I found.

HANNITY: And you do talk about it.

DUNGY: I did, with my guys.

HANNITY: What did you say to them?

DUNGY: Say, "Here's what's going to happen to you." Exactly what you're saying. You're going to be a target because you're young and you have money. People are going to come after you strictly because you have money. Not because they want to be your friend; because they can get some of your money.

You have good looks. You have virility. You have money. You're a target for women. You have to learn how to handle that. What is going to be your priorities? Do you want to be a great football player and a good person in the community, or do you want to just have fun and flame out in a couple of years? And those are conversations we would have, because I thought it was my --

HANNITY: And a lot of them don't listen to you.

DUNGY: Well, a lot of them do.

HANNITY: Fair enough.

DUNGY: Some of them, it takes a little while longer. But I felt it was my job to help them not only be better players but to be better men. And so we'd have those conversations.

HANNITY: You know, so I was reading in your book about -- you know, you talk about parents at these sporting events. My kids play competitive tennis. And there's a lot of pressure on those kids they put on themselves.

And you know, you talk about mental toughness. But you don't like it when people yelling at the umpires. You don't like it when they're putting too much pressure on their kids to win and -- and things like that. What's that -- where's the balancing at?

DUNGY: It's what we're teaching our kids, No. 1. Are we teaching them to compete and do the best they can and accept the results? Or are we teaching them that the only thing that's important is coming out on top? Are we trying to let them have fun at six and seven years old? Are we trying to get them to be No. 1? And there will be plenty of time to get to be No. 1 and grow their competitiveness.

Coach Noel (ph), my coach in Pittsburgh, always used to say that fundamentals is important, but the first three letters of fundamental is F-U-N. And don't ever forget that, whether we're playing for a Super Bowl or not. And I think many times parents forget that, that part of it.

HANNITY: It gets crazy.

DUNGY: Well, it is.

HANNITY: I've been to Little League baseball games where the people want to fight the umpire, for crying out loud.

DUNGY: We're having trouble getting Little Leagues going, because we can't get people to coach, and the reason they don't want to coach is they don't want to deal with the parents.

HANNITY: Yes. No, I think this is the No. 1 rule that we have.

Greatest player you ever coached?

DUNGY: A lot of good ones. Peyton Manning I put right at the top.

HANNITY: Hey, he's got to be there. He's awesome.

Coach, always good to see you. Thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate it.

DUNGY: Thank you, Sean.


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