For Tony Dungy, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach who has spent his career in the National Football League, Sundays have been about football for many years.
Today, though Dungy will be breaking down games as a TV analyst, his thoughts are turning to Abe Brown, his former pastor, friend and partner in prison ministry. Brown, 83, died Saturday after his third battle with cancer.
“Abe was all about helping other people,” Dungy said in phone interview today from New York, where he’s working as an analyst for NBC. “What he taught me was that giving even one minute of your time to someone can have a profound impact. And Abe was never too busy to give that time.”
Dungy said his family started attending Brown’s church when they first moved to Tampa. His wife, Lauren, volunteered in the church’s food pantry. When Brown invited him to go to one of his prison crusades, Dungy witnessed firsthand the minister’s “big heart of service to others.” That was the beginning of a 14-year friendship.
People like Brown don’t come around very often, said Dungy, who wrote about Brown’s work in his bestselling book, “Quiet Strength.”
“I run into guys in the barbershop in town who tell me stories about how he helped them along 30, 40 years ago,” Dungy said. “We really can’t measure the gift he’s given this community in terms of all those people he’s touched.”