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OTL: Higher Calling

Originally Published: January 28, 2010
By Howard Bryant

NEW YORK -- It is Dec. 27, two days after Christmas, a holiday once religious but turned overwhelmingly commercial. Tony Dungy, himself a deeply religious man, navigates a world in which sport was once viewed as vital to building character but now is dominated by the dollar, with all other considerations rendered secondary.

He speaks deliberately and enthusiastically over hot tea and orange juice. Tony Dungy maintains an unhurried demeanor, but his mind nevertheless is split between the past and the future: The self-recriminations of opportunity lost are balanced against the regenerative power of what is possible. He speaks with his hands, the large, nimble hands of a former athlete. His back is to the expanse of the dining room of The London, a boutique midtown hotel, and thus he is oblivious to the star-struck patrons gawking at him, pointing surreptitiously in recognition of little more than the back of Dungy's head.

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