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09-25-2010, 09:04 PM

Tony Dungy gives Yankees a pep talk

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* Originally published September 25, 2010 at 5:36 p.m., updated September 25, 2010 at 6:37 p.m.

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By Jim Baumbach



Seeking to motivate his players as they eye another postseason berth, manager Joe Girardi turned the Yankees clubhouse over Saturday to a football coach with a Super Bowl win on his resume. Enter Tony Dungy, the positive thinker who led the Indianapolis Colts over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

Speaking to reporters on the field about an hour before the game, Dungy estimated that he spoke to the Yankees' players in the clubhouse for about five minutes, focusing on perseverance and "hanging together down the stretch."

Using examples from the Colts' Super Bowl run, Dungy said he spoke to the Yankees about the importance of being a team in every sense of the word. "In the important games it's not necessarily who has the most talent but who sticks together and executes their fundamentals the best," Dungy said.

Girardi originally tried to get Dungy to speak to the team during spring training, but Dungy said his schedule never worked out. So they put it on hold until this month, which worked much better for Dungy because he is in New York every weekend during the NFL season because of his work with NBC's "Football Night in America."

"I admire him tremendously - for his faith, for his beliefs, the type of man he is, the type of family man, the type of coach," Girardi said. "I've read his books. I subscribe to his web site. Yeah, a ton of respect."

Dungy said he has given motivational speeches to college football and basketball teams but never before a major-league baseball team. He also said the Yankees did not pay him.

"It's nice to have guys like that, who have had so much success in other sports, not necessarily talking to you about the fundamentals of baseball, more about preparing for what's ahead of us," Phil Hughes said.


Erik Boland contributed to this report.