In NFL CHARACTERS UNITE, Coach Dungy introduces a group of ex-offenders from Abe Brown Ministry to the students at AMIkids and asks them to break into pairs. The ex-offenders then share their stories with the kids, in an attempt to educate them that making smart decisions now can save them a lifetime of pain. Coach Dungy walks amongst the groups, adding insight to each of the conversations. Coach Dungy makes a special connection with are Devin, a 14 year- old boy who found himself at AMIkids after he struck a bus driver for making disparaging comments about his mother, who suffers from MS; and Alex, a 15 year-old girl who is a former member of the Bloods gang and has struggled with drug addiction. Devin is paired with 30 year-old Jonathan, whose anger management landed him in jail when he beat a man to death, an experience he would give anything to take back. Alex is paired with David, a former cocaine dealer, whose bad decisions landed him behind bars for nearly twenty years. As Coach Dungy had hoped, both kids are deeply affected by their conversations the ex-offenders and his continued hope is that they will take these lessons to heart when making their future life decisions and stay on the straightened arrow.
Tony Dungy,NBC’s Football Night in America Analyst
Nearly fifteen years ago, Tony Dungy moved to Tampa Bay, Florida to coach the Buccaneers, and was introduced to a larger-than-life man named Abe Brown. Brown was a local minister whose life’s work was to help ex-offenders transition into being functioning members of society. When Coach Dungy made a prison visit with Brown so many years ago, he had no way of knowing that Brown’s passion would soon become one of his own. Fifteen years later, after Reverend Brown’s passing, Coach Dungy is still a very active contributor to the Abe Brown Ministries.
As someone who experienced harsh discriminations as a young African American man rising through the NFL coaching ranks, Coach Dungy identified with these ex-offenders who, having served in prison, experience prejudice and discrimination at every turn. While you cannot change the color of your skin or your sexuality, avoiding jail is something you can do, so Coach Dungy’s passion has taken him to work with these men and teach them to make good decisions in hopes that they can have a second chance at life.
In NFL CHARACTERS UNITE, Coach Dungy takes several of the men who are currently living in the Abe Brown Ministry’s transitional housing to a local AMIkids school. AMIkids is a local school where kids who have failed in conventional schools are given the opportunity to evade a more rigid juvenile detention center. While the kids at this school have made some missteps, they still have a chance to escape the fate that has befallen the ex-offenders from Abe Brown Ministry.