Review

Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life

Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker

Although it’s easy to gloss over Indianapolis Colts head
coach Tony Dungy’s QUIET STRENGTH memoir as just another
sports-filled tell-all, readers who spend more than a few pages
with the book will be delighted that it is much more. Not just a
football book --- and more than an autobiography --- Dungy’s
basic faith-based principles will serve anyone from a homemaker to
a businessperson well.

Football lovers, don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of
pigskin particulars to satisfy hardcore fans and enough
play-by-play details to discuss over morning coffee. Dungy, the
first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl, details the
games he has won and lost, trades, hirings and firings (himself and
his players), locker room pep talks, and the ins and outs of the
football world.

Biography buffs will appreciate the (mostly) birth to Super Bowl
chronological order that lends context to the rest of the narrative
and helps readers understand where Dungy is coming from. It’s
not an earthshaking backstory, but it is told well. Dungy grew up
in Jackson, Michigan, just an hour outside of Detroit, to
highly-educated parents (Dungy has a bachelor’s degree from
the University of Minnesota). He recounts how his hot temper got
him in trouble in high school sports (Dungy was quick to take
offense at any implications of racial prejudice) and how his
parents helped him develop his character. There is the obligatory
recounting of menial jobs worked throughout college (a meat-packing
plant shift helped him value his college education and football
scholarship) and an overview of his college and professional
career. He later details his sweet romance with future wife Lauren
Harris, and their family life and adoption of several children.
This biographical information is nicely balanced; there is just the
right amount of detail without becoming banal.

What may surprise you is the amount of humor woven throughout.
Dungy is genuinely funny, which comes across naturally in his
narrative. This is not to say that the book is lightweight. Dungy
includes some of the disappointing moments in his career and the
tragedy of his son’s suicide before Christmas 2005.

The core of Dungy’s book --- his principles for football and
for living --- isn’t anything new, but it is solid and bears
repeating. No excuses, no explanations. Respond to adversity;
don’t react. Be on time. Take ownership.
And perhaps,
most importantly: Do what you’re supposed to do whenever
you’re supposed to do it. Not almost. All the way. Not most
of the time. All of the time.
Integrated throughout are lessons
Dungy has learned from other coaches, mentors and teachers along
the way who have shaped how he acts both on and off the
field.

As he unpacks his personal story, Dungy peppers his narrative with
philosophical questions that provoke the reader into thinking about
his or her life more deeply. “What will people remember us
for? Are other people’s lives better because we lived? Did we
make a difference? Did we use to the fullest the gifts and
abilities God gave us? Did we give our best effort, and did we do
it for the right reasons?”
Good questions for
reflection.

What also comes through is this: Dungy is a very private person.
Although he easily shares about his faith --- and is careful to
include talk about some of his feelings --- there is a point where
the emotion stops. He has obviously drawn some tight boundaries
about how much of his feelings he is willing to share. Some readers
will respect this, while others may wish for a little more
here.

Although Dungy is quick to acknowledge how important football ---
and winning the Super Bowl --- is in his life, he also hammers home
the point that “God’s definition of success is really
one of significance --- the significant difference our lives can
make in the lives of others. This significance doesn’t show
up in win-loss records, long resumes, or the trophies gathering
dust on our mantels. It’s found in the hearts and lives of
those we’ve come across who are in some way better because of
the way we lived.”

Words worth pondering, both on and off the field.

Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on January 23, 2011

Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life
Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker

  • Publication Date: July 10, 2007
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 301 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale
  • ISBN-10: 1414318014
  • ISBN-13: 9781414318011