The old coach is a Detroit Lions fan.
Dungy, one of the game's "good guys," a Super Bowl winner and a man generally regarded as one of the brightest minds in football (now a respected media member), has the same disease most of Michigan does every single fall as it relates to professional football. Refreshing to know. Strength in numbers.
A Lions fan, though? Despite the fact that Dungy grew up in Jackson, Michigan, surely he could still be pulling for his old team, the Indianapolis Colts, right? Since he played football for the University of Minnesota, maybe he could have been a Vikings' fan? No on both accounts, apparently. He's maintained loyalty to the Lions forever, even in the wake of going on television.
There Dungy was last Sunday night, admitting to NBC's Dan Patrick that he watches Lions games as a fan and has for years. When asked about the team's maddening loss on the road to Arizona, Dungy reacted as most Lions' fans would who've been saddled with frustration and disappointment since 1958.
"S.O.L., same old Lions," Dungy said regarding the defeat, to the amusement of Patrick and Rodney Harrison, his co-hosts. Though some Lions publicly took exception to Dungy's words this week, his thoughts were likely tepid in comparison to some of the other jabs being thrown the team's way in countless living rooms, pubs and football gatherings across the state.
That's why any criticism of Dungy's choice of words is unfair in this case. Every Sunday, he gets paid to give his opinion to a national audience. When the topic of his Lions came up, he reacted as any other frustrated fan would have in front of a camera, sans of course expletives or crude analysis. Take exception to the fact Dungy isn't chuck full of optimism, perhaps, but don't harp on him for being passionate about the Lions and expressing frustration with the way the team has made a habit of losing forever. Credit him for letting his inner-fanhood show through in a business where that's usually frowned upon.
The Lions can talk about how they've turned over a new leaf and how Dungy's words don't hold water, but until they start winning consistently and avoid the usual errors in the process of their losses, those questions will continue to linger and be discussed, and certain criticisms won't always be welcomed or pretty. Dungy's same line might even remain a refrain among scores of fans.
On Twitter, the coach said it best on Thursday and most eloquently as it related to his "Same Old Lions" argument. In the process, he managed to get the last word on the matter for everyone.
"(They) have 14 games to change my mind," Dungy tweeted. Touche.
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