Though Detroit Lions' fans can't expect hometown hero Tony Dungy to ride in on his white horse, take over on the sideline and take the team to the Super Bowl as the next coach, they can count on the former Michigan native to continue to talk up their favorite team's job opening.
Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show Friday morning, Dungy commented that the Lions' job is the best one available, citing the presence of a franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford, a passing game which can make things happen in a passing league and a quality defensive line. If Dungy was coming back, he said he'd be most intrigued by the Lions' position above all the others because they can "win immediately."
Despite some prodding from host Dan Patrick on the issue, Dungy remained firm that he was not interested in returning to the sideline in Detroit. In spite of that, the end of the elongated interview offered fans some tantalizing thoughts about Dungy and a possible sideline return.
What if Dungy came back just for Detroit's opening? Could he take the team to a Super Bowl? How fast? Imagine if Dungy came back for only two or three seasons, restored some discipline and winning in Detroit, had success and left the Lions much better than he found them. Even if he didn't win a Super Bowl over the time period, he'd still go down as a football hero in the Motor City just for helping to make things better.
If only timing was different for both the Lions and Dungy, we might get to find out what an established, Super Bowl winning head coach would look like running the show in Detroit. Instead, all Dungy can do is make recommendations about the next man the Lions might hire. Friday morning, Dungy commented on Twitter that his former assistant Jim Caldwell, set to interview with the Lions on Friday, would help Detroit "tremendously."
Still, with the knowledge that Dungy is a Lions' fan and now considers the opening the best one currently available, it's hard for Detroiters to not lust for him as their next coach, even in spite of knowledge that it won't be happening. For those thoughts, fans of Dungy might have to end up settling for Caldwell, the man who replaced him in Indianapolis and a person who represents a similar type of quiet, committed and stable personality on the sideline.
Many will question Caldwell's candidacy thanks to his average, 26-22 record as a coach, but for those questions, Dungy, a man most would widely approve for the job, has an answer as well. On Twitter, he responded to a question that Caldwell "failed" in Indianapolis quite succinctly. "Is two playoffs (appearances) and losing a Super Bowl failing?" Dungy tweeted.
That's for the fans to decide. Dungy won't be coming back just for the Lions despite his respect for the position, but is his hand-picked successor a good enough consolation prize? Quietly, that might end up being the case.
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