I promised some more about Tony Dungy, and now I am being scolded by thepittsburghchannel for not doing it sooner. I had never been to a Mel Blount Roast benefiting his Youth Home, but wanted to attend this year, since I did a story about the home, and his cutting horses, last November. It is such a great cause, and Mel and his wife, Tianda are deeply passionate about giving these young boys a chance to turn their lives around .

I didn’t realize Coach Dungy was one of the roasters for Lynn Swann until I got there. When Tony was introduced and walked to the dais, the place erupted. I don’t know whether it is because he was a former Super Bowl Steeler player, a Steeler assistant , or just that he is one of the most respected men in pro sports.

Lynn was so funny when he finally issued his rebuttal to the roasters. He said he had had to wait 9 years to be roasted and, wouldn’t you know it, but the beloved Tony Dungy would show up just several months after winning the Super Bowl and steal his thunder. Tony was very funny, recounting time after time that Lynn, as teammate, would say one thing, then do another. He ended his roast by saying, ” Now I know, after 30 years, what he was doing. He was just preparing for a career in politics.” The timing was just perfect, and the place broke up.

I have said before, that he was so kind the eve of the Monday Night Football game we played in Indianapolis during the 2005 season. He granted a one-on-one interview, which Billy Hillgrove said is unheard of so close to the game. I think he did it because of his fondness for Pittsburgh. Thinking back, it was only a week before he lost his son. Someone told me they had heard he has a book coming out soon about how his faith and family have enabled him to persevere through times like that. But I digress. I went over and congratulated him at the roast, and told him how much I liked the Motorola commercial where he tells the player what to do when the player is on a date. You remember the one–the player is dressed in a uniform with a silly helmet on and whacks the date in the head. Tony said he was just being himself…but I think he’s got future in cameos, if nothing else.

After the dinner was over, Lynn and Mel were talking about how much Tony had done to help African-American coaches. As they both put it, a lot of people rise to the top, and forget to help those coming behind them. Tony, on the other hand, made sure he placed the ladder there and elevated others like Herman Edwards, Lovey Smith……Mike Tomlin

Speaking of Tomlin, I have seen and heard so many mixed reviews on him and Kevin Colbert’s draft. One rated it a B-. I don’t have a problem with the tight end or punter. But I wish they would have drafted an offensive lineman in an earlier round. Can’t say that I was disappointed about the defensive tackle/linebacker, Woodley. Go Blue!!! And going back to Dungy and the Colts–they drafted three Buckeyes!!! Including wide receiver Antonio Gonzalez in the first round. One pundit gave them an A and another analysis I read said no better than a C. Who the heck knows anyway?

One last connection to Tony Dungy. This past week-end was the Carson Scholars Fund Awards Luncheon. The Fund was started in 1994 by renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, and is wife, Candy. It recognizes students, grade 4-12, for both academic,humanitarian and civic activities. There were 80 kids from Allegheny County this year, and one of them just happened to be the daughter of County Executive Dan Onorato. The Pittsburgh Chapter was started several years ago by Dr. Alfonso Costa, who is a great friend of Jerome Bettis. Jerome is now on the national board, and so is Tony Dungy. As well as Cal Ripken, Jr., Colin Powell, and some Fortune 500 CEO’s. Now there are chapters all over the country, awarding $1000 scholarships to students like Aaron Horne from St Bartholomew’s in Penn Hills, shown here, with Dr. Carson.

I am honored to be a part of the local chapter, and to have emceed the event the last two years. The only disappointment was Jerome couldn’t make it, because he is now the proud father of a baby boy, born just a few weeks ago.Congratulations!!! It is a Mini-Bus!!


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