The Gophers' theme for the 2012 season is "Uncommon." That's how they want to work, that's how they want to play, and that's what they want to be.
On Tuesday, the football team met the inspiration for that theme. Tony Dungy, the former Gopher quarterback who went on to coach the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI, addressed the current Minnesota players before Tuesday's practice.
"It's something I've talked about several times, and nobody embodies that message more than Coach Dungy. He's a pretty special person," said Gophers coach Jerry Kill. "I admire the way he lives his life."
So much so, that Kill has assigned the entire team to read Dungy's book, "Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance," something he did at Northern Illinois in 2009, when the book was initially published. The Gophers read and discussed the first four chapters before spring practice, and Kill intends to do the same with the rest of the book when drills are done.
Nothing in the book can match the excitement of meeting such a coaching legend, though.
"That was a great experience being in there," said offensive lineman Ed Olson. "He was talking about character, on and off the field, [how] we've got to be role models. It was a great message for us -- he was saying, don't base your whole life on football. There is more to life than football, spiritually, socially, on and off the field."
"He played for some great people here," Kill said, referring to Dungy's coach, Cal Stoll, during his stint at Minnesota quarterback from 1974-76. "I've always said, he's what you should be coaching the game of football. It was great for the kids to hear from somebody of their own."
Dungy's presence was the highlight of a rather routine day of practice. The defense closed the drills on a high after holding the offense without a first down on three straight second-and-8 drills, the last two on short third-and-1 runs that were stuffed at the line.