Shortly after he resigned Monday as the head football coach at Donovan Catholic High School Dan Duddy and I talked about the decision which he had been contemplating for some time.

Duddy told me that once he got to around the third game of this season he knew it would be his last and he made it official yesterday morning during a meeting with his players and staff. We talked about the pros and cons of giving up a sport which has been a part of his life for 48 years: 10 as a player and 38 as a coach, the last ten with the Griffins.

To hundreds of young men whose lives he has touched Duddy has always been more than just a football coach. A former standout quarterback for Warren Wolf at Brick High School, I first met him through a mutual friend more than 30 years ago when he was teaching and coaching at his alma mater. Even then in brief conversations I knew there was something different about him. It was the way he talked about football and what the game could do for young men. He was clearly a disciple of Coach Wolf and preached family every bit as much as football.

Dan and I were actually teammates for a while as I recruited him to play basketball for the WOBM “No Stars.” Like me he was good for hitting an occasional jump shot and to this day we laugh about the time he entered a game and forgot to take off his sweatpants. What I learned about him then was team always came first, even in a friendly basketball game for charity.

When Central Regional High School was looking for a new football coach in the early 90’s I used whatever clout I had as an alumnus to encourage school officials to interview Duddy for the job. A short time later he guided Central to a state sectional final against Wolf and the Green Dragons at Brick, a game I covered on the sidelines for WOBM. Central had the game locked up until the final seconds when a couple of questionable calls went in favor of the home team and I always felt they got robbed but Duddy took the high road because of his respect for Wolf, who was like a second father to him.

While he’s stepping away from coaching he’ll remain at Donovan Catholic as the Pastoral Minister of Athletics, a position that is very near and dear to him and one he hopes to grow. In addition he wants to devote more time to his family and is looking forward to walks on the boardwalk with his wife Maura in the fall, a season he’s never really enjoyed at the Jersey Shore outside of the football field.

In true Duddy fashion he sent a letter home to the parents of all his current players telling them he still wants to be called “Coach” because he’ll remain one in other areas of importance. He closed by thanking the parents for sharing their sons with him. Of course in truth they and hundreds of others are the ones who thank him for a lifetime of devotion.