Dungy offers Yanks motivational message

Dungy offers Yanks motivational message

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have tapped into Tony Dungy's motivational playbook, having invited the former NFL head coach to address the team in a closed-door meeting on Saturday.

Dungy said that he spoke to the Yankees for about five minutes before the club's game against the Red Sox, an informal give-and-take that the players seemed excited to take part in.

"We talked about some of our experiences, and focusing and hanging together down the stretch for important games," Dungy said. "It's not necessarily who has the most talent, but what team sticks together and executes fundamentals the best."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the team has been trying to line up Dungy -- who lives in Tampa, Fla. -- as a guest speaker since Spring Training, but their schedules have not matched up. Dungy is in New York this weekend for his duties as an NBC Sports football commentator.

"It was a real treat," Girardi said. "I admire him tremendously, for his faith, his beliefs, the kind of man he is, the type of coach. I've read his books, I subscribe to his Web site. [I have] a ton of respect."

Dungy said that he was briefed coming into the meeting that Nick Swisher would probably have the most questions for him, but Swisher said he was content to mostly sit and listen.

"Everything that man stands for is nothing but good things," Swisher said. "To bring a guy like that into our locker room and talk to us, that's an honor for us to hear. For a man who's been so successful in his life and also a man who's dealt with a lot of adversity as well, to see where he's still standing right now, it's amazing."

Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes echoed similar thoughts, saying that it was nice to hear about Dungy's life experiences and success in the sports world, especially with the final push to the World Series right around the corner.

"They don't necessarily talk to you about the fundamentals of baseball -- it's more about preparing for what's ahead of us," Hughes said. "There are a lot of new faces that weren't here last year, so it's not like we can just roll in and do what we did."

Dungy said that he has a lot of respect for Girardi and downplayed the substance of his message.

"It's probably nothing [the players] haven't heard from Joe, but I have a son who doesn't listen to anything I say," Dungy said. "If he hears the same thing from someone else, sometimes it has a little more impact."