The Indianapolis Colts are 13-1, won their division, will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and may very well advance to the Super Bowl.
But this story puts all of that into stark perspective:
The 18-year-old son of Tony Dungy, head coach of the top-ranked Indianapolis Colts football team, was found dead on Thursday in Tampa, police said.
A spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were called to James Dungy’s apartment at about 1:30 a.m. by his girlfriend. They were unable to revive Dungy and he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Dick Bailey, a spokesman for the Hillsborough Medical Examiner, said an autopsy to determine the cause of death will not be completed until Friday at the earliest.
The St. Petersburg Times quoted Bailey as saying that Dungy’s death was “apparently a suicide.”
Asked by Reuters about whether it was a suicide, Bailey said, “I know of nothing to conflict with that,” adding that the cause of death would not be conclusive until the autopsy was finished.
Tony Dungy, in his 10th season as a National Football League head coach, directed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 until he was fired after the 2001 season. He turned the Buccaneers from perennial losers into winners that made the NFL playoffs four times in six years.
After he was fired following a playoff loss in January 2002, Dungy was immediately hired by the Colts.
This season the Colts won their first 13 games before losing last Sunday at home to San Diego. They play at Seattle this Saturday.
Colts team president Bill Polian said that assistant head coach Jim Caldwell has temporarily stepped in for Dungy:
“The thoughts and prayers of everyone in this building are with Tony and (wife) Lauren, their children and their extended family, and for the repose of James’ soul,” Polian said at a news conference at the Colts’ training facility in Indianapolis. “This is a tragedy for the Dungy family and by extension his football family here with the Colts.”
Owner Jim Irsay and Polian met with team officials and players to break the news.
“It was not easy, and it was somber, to say the least,” Polian said.
Caldwell will take over “for however long Tony will be away and however long he will be away is entirely up to him,” Polian added.
Chaplains were brought in to talk with the team.
“I don’t think there’s anyone here that would wish to play a football game under these circumstances, but it’s our obligation and we’ll fulfill that obligation because that’s what Tony wants us to do,” Polian said.