Dungy returns to Colts complex
By Phil Richards
Tony Dungy returned to the Indianapolis Colts this morning with little fanfare but a huge impact.
Safety Gerome Sapp was lying on a table in the training room, icing his sore back at about 7:30 a.m. Sapp was drifting in and out of sleep.
“I heard his voice and I woke up: ‘Coach Dungy’s back,’” said Sapp, his smile spilling off both sides of his face. “By this time, he’s right by me, and he leans down and gives me a hug, and like, ‘It’s good seeing you guys.’”
“Everybody just perked up, and when he left, it was just a different mood.”
Dungy was not immediately available for comment, but he is expected to address the media after practice this afternoon. The Colts’ head coach has been absent since last Thursday, when his eldest son, James, was found dead in his apartment in Lutz, Fla.
The Colts have been a team in mourning, but spirits soared all around Union Federal Football Center.
Defensive tackle Larry Tripplett was eating breakfast in the pavilion a little after 8. Dungy walked in.
“He came in and gave everybody a hug,” said Tripplett. “Just seeing his face I think it just uplifts everybody’s spirits.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay and club president Bill Polian told Dungy to take as long as he needed to be with his family, but were thrilled to have him back.
“He loves these guys and as he’s fond of saying, 'We do what we do,’” said Polian. "And this is what he does."
Most of the players learned of their coach’s return when they walked into the football auditorium for the day’s opening 9 a.m. meeting.
“We’re just very, very, very pleased,” said defensive tackle Montae Reagor.
“When he walked through the door this morning it was a sight to see. I think everybody’s eyes lit up. It was a great feeling.
“To have your leader back in place is wonderful. He’s like our father. We respect him that way. We respect him as a man and as a coach and a father figure. We know that he’s all of the above.”
The Colts have adhered to their routines. They have tried to maintain something approaching normalcy, but normalcy began to return in earnest Thursday.
“It’s back to normal having him out there running the scout team, organizing the practice, the walk-through,” said right guard Jake Scott. “It’s going to be nice.”