Tony Dungy: The All Pro Dad

CBN.com For more than a decade, former NFL head coach Tony Dungy has been more than an inspiration to the game of football. As one of the most successful coaches in the game, he’s inspired men to be the best they can be as husbands and fathers. But during his NFL career, he and an assistant caoch realized something was missing.

“I was coaching with the Buccaneers," Tony Dungy tells CBN Sports, "and Clyde Christianson and I used to walk after practice and just talk about our families and how we didn’t have as much time as dads to be around as much as our dads were able to be around. How we could correct that and how we could do a better job? Clyde got in touch with Mark Merrill, the president of Family First, and he said, 'I think this guy can help us.'" 

That’s when they came up with All Pro Dad, a division of the non-profit organization Family First, which focues on buildind relationships between fathers and their kids.

"We had the first meeting in 1998. We were probably getting 50 people a day at practice, and we said, 'Hey guys, bring your kids out, watch a Saturday practice.' We ended up getting about 3,500 come out. We thought this might be a good idea, the way men connect with football. If we can help them get that same energy with parenting, we’re going to have a good thing.”

Over the last 10 years, All Pro Dad  has brought thousands of fathers and kids together with its annual event, The All Pro Dad Fathers and Kids Experience.

Coach Dungy says, “The neat thing is dads can bring any number of kids, $15 per family, and they get to run out on the field where their heros run. The kids get to enjoy this. We’ll have six different stations, running back station, linebacker station, wide receiver station. They’ll learn a football skill, but at the end of a short period of time, then they’ll get a life lesson at that particular station. They get to spend three hours with their dad. Kids come out thinking, 'Boy, I’m gonna get to be on the Buccaneers field.' But at the end of the day, it’s, 'I spent three hours with my dad and I had a lot of fun.'”

But being an All Pro Dad is more than just a yearly event. It extrends far beyond the football field and into the community. Their web site provides tools to help fathers build realtionships at home with their kids everyday.  Merrill says its sole purpose is to strengthen the family. He adds, “The family is a God-ordained institution that the Lord uses to pass our faith along from generation to generation. That’s the most significant reason for which we exist. What we want to do is to bring is truth. We know all truth is God’s truth and His plan for the family to a mainstream audience across the country."

“This is really special for me, because we get so many parents out here, many for the first time, where they [say], 'It's been years since I spent three hours with my kids just having fun.' [We are] getting them to interact and to understand how important that is," Coach Dungy says. "That’s what we need in this country. We’ve got to get our men more engaged being parents. It's going to head off a lot of the problems that we’re seing now.” 

For more information, visit All Pro Dad.

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