JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Referencing Matthew 16:26, former NFL coach Tony Dungy told Carson-Newman's football team Friday afternoon that the most important thing about football was not winning championship, but using football as a way to become a better person.
"I've lived 31 years in the National Football League," Dungy said to the 140 players in the Ken Sparks Athletic Complex. "I've been around players that have had everything from a worldly standpoint, but leave the NFL and say, 'what did I do?' Because inside their life wasn't right.
"They had gained the world from a financial standpoint, but they'd forfeited their soul. I can tell you when you see that, it's terrible."
The message was not lost on safety Anthony Baskin. The senior notched nine tackles in two games in 2012 before going down with a wrist injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
That time on the sidelines and an extra year of eligibility made Dungy's words resonate with Baskin.
"I had a lot of plans for last year, but sometimes they get put on hold," Baskin said. "I feel like God really spoke to me today through Tony Dungy. Last year – I'm not going to say I was a selfish guy, but I had my own plans – but today I heard that sometimes you have to give up a little to gain a lot. What I've got is that I've grown close with my friends and they've become like family."
Dungy quoted the story of the Prodigal Son. But instead of focusing on the father or the youngest son, the Super Bowl-winning coach looked at the older of the two brothers. He asked the question why the older broth wasn't there to help guide the younger brother when he was running amok.
C-N running back singled out that story and Dungy's advice on becoming a championship team.
"He talked to us about building a championship team," C-N running back Andy Hibbett said. "He talked to us about the on field stuff, but it's really more about what you do off the field. It's about being a pillar in the community. Then you have to take that extra step on the field."
Dungy is in town to speak at the annual Carson-Newman coaching clinic.