ME: 4-6 weeks to determine cause of death

Updated: December 24, 2005, 11:38 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

A medical examiner's preliminary report Friday confirmed that the 18-year-old son of Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy took his own life, although the cause of death will not be determined for four to six weeks.

Colts
AP Photo/Michael ConroyColts players and staff spent some time in silence following practice Friday as they continue to come to terms with the death of coach Tony Dungy's son, James.

Dr. Jacqueline Lee released the findings and said there was no evidence of foul play. Lee ordered a toxicology study, and until it is finished the cause and manner of James Dungy's death are listed as pending.

Dungy's girlfriend found him unresponsive at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Hillsborough (Fla.) County Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. Carter said evidence at the scene indicated James Dungy had killed himself.

A sheriff's deputy performed CPR before an ambulance took him to University Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to police records obtained by the Indianapolis Star, a Florida hospital treated James Dungy for a drug overdose on Oct. 21. Dungy said he was depressed when he took about 14 prescription painkillers, according to a Hillsborough County sheriff's report. No other information about the incident was immediately available, according to the Star.

Tony Dungy took the team plane from Indianapolis to Tampa, Fla., where he had coached the Buccaneers from 1996-2001. He has taken leave from the team, which is 13-1 and will be coached by assistant head coach Jim Caldwell for Saturday's game at Seattle.

James Dungy's viewing Monday and funeral Tuesday, at Wilson Funeral Home in Tampa, Fla., are open to the public, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Colts owner Jim Irsay will charter a plane to take the entire team, including players and staff, to the funeral. Colts players were to wear "JD" decals on the back of the their helmets for Saturday's game in Seattle.

The Colts got back to concentrating on football Friday in Indianapolis, seeming more vibrant as they finished their last practice before heading to Seattle -- a major change from Thursday's near silence after they received word James Dungy's death.

The reminders, though, were everywhere.

Caldwell again ran practice. In the team's pavilion, players, coaches and Colts officials attended a morning memorial service.

"The great thing about it is that this team is a great reflection of its head coach, they emulate him to a 'T' in certain respects," Caldwell said. "Especially when there's some adversity and this is a very tough time."

For the Colts, whose 13-1 record is the NFL's best, this tumultuous week has easily been its most challenging.

The daily tests included Sunday's loss to San Diego, their first of the season; Monday's announcement by team president Bill Polian that two-time MVP Peyton Manning had a swollen knee, something the quarterback later denied; and the overshadowing of having seven players picked to the Pro Bowl on Wednesday when the NFL mistakenly listed left tackle Tarik Glenn on the roster, then retracted his name.

Thursday's news, that Dungy's son died of what was confirmed Friday as an apparent suicide, shoved aside the other story lines. Dungy immediately flew to Tampa, leaving behind a shaken team that offered its prayers and heartfelt empathy for their coach's family even as team officials continued debating how much, or whether, to play starters against Seattle.

Suddenly, life had trumped football.

But when the Colts returned to work Friday, they seemed to honor their coach's advice by getting back to business.

"They're professionals, when they take the field, they want to win," Caldwell said. "So it's a matter of professional pride, and also our head coach expects us to go out and play hard and play well."

Caldwell seemed relieved to be answering questions about the Colts' next game.

He announced three starters -- record-setting receiver Marvin Harrison, Pro Bowl linebacker Cato June and starting right tackle Ryan Diem -- would not travel to Seattle.

Harrison broke a bone in his right hand and did not practice all week, although Dungy had said Harrison could play through the injury. June has spent the past two months dealing with a sports hernia, a sore knee and a sore ankle. Diem is expected to miss the final two regular-season games with a sprained ligament in his left knee and hopes to return for Indy's first playoff game Jan. 14 or 15.

Also expected to sit are defensive linemen Corey Simon and Robert Mathis, who both have foot injuries. Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders (back) and defensive tackle Montae Reagor (knee) might take Saturday off, too.

And Manning, who hasn't missed a start in his eight NFL seasons, might not play much.

"I'm excited, it's about time," backup quarterback Jim Sorgi said Monday. "I've been ready to play all year. I'm excited about getting some time and some significant time."

Still, Dungy's situation remained front and center at the Colts' complex.

On Thursday, the locker room was hushed and players quietly walked off the practice field. On Friday, there was more pep but things seemed to be only somewhat back to normal.

"It puts things in perspective," Glenn said Thursday. "Football is really just a little piece of life, especially when you're talking about a child. It's rough to practice and stay focused, but Jim Caldwell talked to him [Dungy], and he wants us to do well."

Some players think Saturday's game will provide an outlet for their emotions.

Receiver Brandon Stokley, whose infant son was seriously ill with bacterial meningitis the week of the AFC championship game, acknowledged Thursday that playing football helped give him a respite.

"The tough part is when you're sitting around thinking about it," he said.

Players were not available for interviews Friday. But as the Colts continue to deal with their biggest challenge, they seemed more relaxed, more jovial and more like themselves at practice.

If they can play like that Saturday, they think it will be the biggest tribute they can give Dungy.

"I had the opportunity to speak with him, and he's there helping his family," Caldwell said. "He didn't give me any directions, he just told us to go forward and do the things we normally do -- play hard and play well."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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