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Groundswell for Dungy


ORLANDO—There's a groundswell campaign at this week's NFL owners meetings for Tony Dungy to be the next commissioner of the NFL. Hmmm, let's think about it.

Dungy's a guy who's produced support everywhere he's been, which would make him a consensus builder, the number one criterion in selecting a new commissioner. He's also a man of great intellect and control. He's a former player, a minority and a man of compassion, respect and love.

Here's the best of all qualifications Dungy possesses: He's a football guy. I like that the most.

Hey, I'm sold. I love the guy as a coach and I think I'd love him even more as a commissioner. I am officially beating the drum for Dungy for commissioner.

As for now, however, Dungy remains the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and he talked to reporters in the hallway at the Orlando Hyatt Regency on Monday about his greatest concern for his team in its attempt to take one more shot at the Super Bowl.

"I think we're going to be better on defense. We still have a great receiving corps. The one thing we're missing is that, for the first time in seven years, we have to talk about a running back," Dungy said.

Yeah, Edgerrin James is gone and all of those people who thought it was Peyton Manning's offense may find out that a significant piece of it belonged to James. Put it this way: It was James who beat the Jaguars in Indianapolis in week two last season.

"We lost an excellent kicker and we signed an excellent kicker. We lost an excellent running back and we have to do the same thing. We've got to get a back, whether it's through free agency or in the draft," Dungy said.

That's the challenge confronting the Colts in their attempt to defend their AFC South Division title. Can they find a replacement for James? Who? Lawrence Mauroney?

Every team in the AFC South is facing a challenge; most are facing more than one. The Jaguars would seem to be the least challenged. The Jaguars would seem poised to wrest control of the division away from the Colts.

"They're a physical group," Dungy said of the Jaguars. "They've been our toughest opponent, outside of New England. I like Byron (Leftwich). He's very, very tough and he's a guy who wants to make the big throw under pressure and that's what defines a great quarterback."

The division's other two teams, Houston and Tennessee, are coming off terrible seasons, but Dungy confessed to being most concerned about the two teams that logically should be the least threatening.

"Tennessee is back in the (free agent) market after some tough (salary cap) years. Houston is probably the wild card. That's going to be the difference; how well they do," Dungy said.

If the Texans are the division's wild card, it's because they own the first pick of the draft and could close the gap between themselves and the Colts and Jaguars very quickly if Reggie Bush turns out to be the star play-maker everyone expects he will be.

"That's my biggest fear, that Bush will go there and Vince Young will go to Tennessee and we'll be looking at them the next 10 years. With him you have to be prepared to tailor your offensive system to what he does best," Dungy said of Young, the Texas quarterback with the Michael Vick running skills.

"I think it's going to be a very tough division," Dungy said. "Jacksonville feels it's improved itself."

If I had it my way, Dungy wouldn't have to worry about any of that. I'll lead the groundswell: Dungy for commissioner.

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