The fixation on nice guys is well past the point of annoyance. As sports fans, the message is clear; nice guys can finish first. The hidden message and reality is nice guys finish first once in a while. Don’t expect a change in philosophy for coaches of any sport because Tony Dungy won a Super Bowl.
While there’s no denying the positive effect of Dungy’s accomplishments, let’s not forget he’s yet to make it to an elite level of two or more Super Bowl victories. Knoll, Landry, Johnson, Shula, Walsh, Flores, Belichick, Lombardi, and Parcells all won multiple Super Bowls and none were what you’d call nice guys; in person perhaps, but not within the scheme of winning.
To be fair, Dungy is able to coach the way he does because of Bill Polian. Polian makes tough decisions as the GM/Wonderman. Let’s also keep in mind the presence of Peyton Manning who, though a friendly person, is as competitive as anyone else. The Colts possess some tough, mean players.
In a sport so violent the nice guy stands out. It’s the same in warfare. Eisenhower was a genuinely friendly person but for leading his divisions and armies into war he chose aggressive, tough, and often brutal men because war is brutal. Ike never stood at the front of a division and led them into war. He was a manager and a damned good one. His ability to juggle personalities set him apart.
Dungy is set to become a great coach, perhaps one of the best of all time. He’s doing it his way and for many it’s refreshing. It’s a mistake to conclude, however, he’ll start a trend. While he and Bears coach Lovie Smith are both quiet it doesn’t mean others will follow suit. Aggressive men are drawn to football and the bulk of coaches will be made up of these men, most of who don’t care if players’ feelings are hurt. In short, Dungy is the exception and not the rule.