- Saturday, June 07, 2008
The Bay News 9 reporter had been waiting all night for this shot. For two days, news trucks had been parked along the street, on the front lawn, in the surrounding ditches— wherever they could fit close to One Buc.
I thought everyone had abandoned the vigil hours earlier, when the Buccaneers had issued a statement that there would be a press conference the following morning. But on a hunch, this reporter had doubled back in the dark and rain, and he was about to hit the jackpot.
He must have seen my head over the dark green screen of the fence; he began filming just as I carried the boxes through the gate and into the open area. He was across the street, sitting in the back of a news van on airport property, but given the narrow street and small parking area, he was no more than fifty feet away. The lens on his video camera more than compensated for that short distance as I walked directly toward him.
His nighttime footage of me would air repeatedly over the next several days. Everyone in the Tampa viewing area would have multiple opportunities to see Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, placing boxes into his SUV in the pouring rain.
As I drove away from One Buc, I knew that my real and painful experience of being fired was an all-too-common part of the human condition in the young 21st century. I reminded myself that it was temporary. I took comfort in the knowledge that this, too, would pass. But my emotions were a mixture of peace and bewilderment with a swirl of unanswered questions.
What’s next? What could we have done differently?
I kept driving, across Columbus Drive and up Dale Mabry Highway. I went past Raymond James Stadium, where I’d experienced so many highs. Fittingly, it was now empty. As I reached Bearss Avenue, I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I kept reminding myself that I would move on, that things would turn out all right professionally, that Lauren and the children were resilient enough to handle all of this. And it was obvious to me that God had something else for us, or He wouldn’t have closed off what we were doing with the Bucs.
When will I hear Your voice, Lord? Soon, I hope.
I knew everything would ultimately be fine, but at that moment—on that rain-swept night of January 14, 2002—my Explorer and my spirits traveled under the same dark clouds.
From Quiet Strength. Copyright © 2007 by Tony Dungy. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.
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