Fatherly advice: Dungy's words hit home for Wilson
By ROGER CLARKSON | firstname.lastname@example.org | Story updated at 11:23 pm on 3/18/2009
Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy came to Georgia's camp to talk about fatherhood. He found a more than willing listener in Tony Wilson.
Wilson, a junior wide receiver, already has a 2-year-old son and Dungy's words hit him where he lives.
"It dawned on me how important being a father was when I found out my son's mom was pregnant," Wilson said. "I had one of two choices, either man up and take care of my responsibilities or tuck my tail between and run off. Like they say, 'It takes a boy to lay down and make a baby, but it takes a man to raise it.' "
Dungy came to Georgia's football offices to address the team before Wednesday's practice and announce the program All Pro Dads' introduction onto college campuses, beginning with Georgia.
"It's makes a big impact because I grew up without a father in my life," Wilson said. "It was really hard to learn the morals of being a man without a father in your life. When he came in to speak today, he had my undivided attention."
Wilson has a 2-year-old son named Tony Wilson Jr. When Wilson found out about the pregnancy, he spent several sessions talking with Georgia coach Mark Richt about being a father.
"Just about every opportunity Coach Richt has, he brings out guys to talk to us about the importance of being a father," Wilson said. "It may not take effect today or tomorrow, but it will later on down the road. It makes a difference when you hear somebody like Coach Richt or Coach Dungy telling you to take care of your responsibilities and become a man."
Dungy helped launch All Pro Dads in 1997 when he was coaching at Tampa Bay. He saw a need for fathers to spend more time with their children and that football was a good way to do it. The organization has grown to at least 1,200 chapters in 48 states. It has been affiliated almost exclusively with professional football teams but on Wednesday announced its first foray into college ranks starting at Georgia.
"There's something about football that men like," Dungy said. "If we can take this energy, this football fan energy, and channel it into being a better dad, we might have something going."
All Pro Dads and Georgia will hold an event on campus on a date yet to be specified. The event will give fathers a chance to spend time with their kids with football as a backdrop.
"We've grown primarily in NFL cities. We thought that the University of Georgia would be a great place to start," Dungy said. "I've known Coach Richt for a long time. I've worked with him and we feel that this is the ideal place. The University of Georgia has really come on board and their support is tremendous. There are a lot of dads who are interested in college football and it's also important to get on campus because there are a lot of young men who are either contemplating being dads or are dads already and we need to get them some tools to be better fathers."
Georgia coach Mark Richt has always run a family-friendly program. It's not uncommon to find coaches children roaming the football offices after hours when the team has social gatherings."We're dead serious about helping our players," Richt said. "We want our student-athletes to grow into wonderful husbands and wonderful fathers and tremendous citizens in our community. We're constantly plating seeds in young men's lives.