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Book about Tony Dungy family is about family, faith

The officers showed up at the home just outside of Kansas City and knocked on the door.

As his two children looked on, the father answered and heard the officers exclaim, "You're under arrest." Then they took Tony Dungy to jail.

Yes, the ex-Bucs and Colts coach and all-around good guy revealed he once spent three hours in jail after failing to pay a $5 traffic citation.

"Suddenly, paying the five dollars seemed like a good idea," Dungy wrote in Uncommon Marriage, a book he co-wrote with his wife, Lauren, and Nathan Whitaker.

In a book that largely offers advice overcoming challenges and maintaining a strong marriage by relying on Christian values, the Dungys chose to include Tony's arrest because it shows how they managed to get through difficult moments.

Dungy, who worked for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1988-1991, was pulled over by an officer near his Overland Park, Kan., home after a particularly late night at the office. With the streets empty, Dungy felt certain he had committed no violation and believed the officer targeted him because of his race.

He appealed, and the judge reduced the citation to $5. As a matter of principle, Dungy appealed again. However, he forgot about the issue during the busy season and the arrest ensued.

The Dungys turned what could have erupted into a divisive argument into a teachable moment. They talked to the children about standing up for what you believe, but also about following the rules and obeying authority.

The couple faced other challenges through their 30-plus years of marriage and overcame them with a steadfast devotion to three primary principles: faith, communication and commitment.

With Whitaker's help, the Dungys offer easy-to-read narratives. They tell their story chronologically and when they share their perspectives on specific moments, the stories fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

Through Tony's different jobs, the Dungys befriended many couples who share their values, if not their faith. The couples mentored them, and the book is the Dungys' way of mentoring others.

They make it clear, however, that disagreements tested their relationship.

One came when Dungy accepted a job in Minnesota shortly after the birth of their third child, Eric. Lauren ultimately understood but initially felt blindsided.

"He moved forward without really talking to me about it," Lauren Dungy said Tuesday. "We had a breakdown in communications."

From that, they recommitted to talking every day, often going for long evening walks when time allowed.

The book also includes a chapter about how they coped with the death of their son Jamie, who committed suicide three days before Christmas in 2005. They grieved differently from day to day, but challenged each other to keep talking about their feelings. The book also touches on racist threats Eric faced after transferring to Plant High School.

Overall, it's a Christian-centered book, including a guide at the end with biblical Scriptures, but Tony says, "There's definitely things in there that will help anybody."

For me, passages about forgiveness, compromise, grace and sacrifice proved most inspiring.

The Dungys show that an uncommon marriage comes not just through Christian faith, but by maintaining faith in each other.

That's all I'm saying.

Uncommon Marriage Event and book signings


Noon: Barnes & Noble, 11802 N Dale Mabry Highway

6 p.m.: Books-A-Million, 2601 NW 13th St., Gainesville


10 a.m.-noon: The Uncommon Marriage Event,

Grace Family Church,

5101 Van Dyke Road, Lutz Phone: (813) 265-4151

Doors open at 9:45 a.m.,

no tickets needed, child care provided for infant to fifth grade

Noon: Book signing immediately following the Uncommon Marriage Event,

Grace Family Church,

5101 Van Dyke Road

3 p.m.: Lifeway Christian Store, 12689 Citrus Plaza Drive, Tampa

Book about Tony Dungy family is about family, faith 02/05/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 6:10pm]
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