On February 4th, 2007, Tony Dungy became the first African-American Head Coach to win the Superbowl. A decade later, he joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Dungy went undrafted in the 1977even though the draft was 12 rounds long at the time. He was disappointed, but it led to him signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers and converting from quarterback to safety. “I have to say that the $2,000 signing bonus I got didn’t last long, but I ended up gaining a lot more than money,” Dungy said.
Dungy’s Head Coach in Pittsburgh, Chuck Noll, taught that even though they were being paid to play football, life is above football. That lesson would be carried with Dungy and apply to his life as a coach. His former teammate, Donnie Shell, took Dungy under his wing and helped him transition from quarterback to safety, but Shell also helped Dungy learn about being a Christian and a husband.
After finishing his playing career in San Fransisco, Dungy came back to Pittsburgh as an assistant coach. The move back to Pittsburgh also marked another important beginning for Dungy. “Coming back to Pittsburgh was the beginning of my coaching journey, but there was another blessing in store for me. I met my beautiful wife, Lauren,” Dungy said. “There’s no way I’d be here tonight without her.”
Dungy later Served as the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings under the late Dennis Green. Green prepared Dungy for the challenges of being a Head Coach. “Denny went out of his way to teach me the responsibilities of being a Head Coach,” Dungy said. “He taught me about things on and off the field. He did it because he wanted to see me become a Head Coach, and he wanted me to be prepared and be ready when that opportunity came, and I love him for that.”
Dungy’s first head coaching position came with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996. The next season, the team broke a long playoff drought. “We made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, and the Bucs fans went crazy over their team,” Dungy said. “And those fans remain special to me to this day.”
After being fired in 2002 following a playoff loss, Dungy received a phone call from Colts’ owner Jim Irsay who was looking for a new Head Coach. Dungy mentioned how thankful he was to Jim Irsay and general manager Bill Polian for that opportunity. “I’d like to thank you big time, Jim and Bill and the Colts’ fans,” Dungy said. “You made us feel like native Hoosiers, and our family loves you… We had a lot of fun over those next seven years, highlighted by that Super Bowl XLI victory,” Dungy said.
For Dungy, the most important thing about his career was the relationships he built over the years, specifically noting Marvin Harrison, who was also a Hall of Fame inductee. “I cherish every single relationship that I was able to make over those 31 years, and I’ll always be grateful to the National Football League for giving me my life’s work,” Dungy said.
Tony Dungy spent 31 years in the NFL but he is best known for his work as Head Coach of thefrom 2002-08. With Peyton Manning becoming a future Hall of Fame player, the Colts were Super Bowl contenders for the majority of Dungy’s time in Indianapolis. His career highlight came in February 2007 when Indianapolis defeated the Chicago in Super Bowl XLI.
“Be uncommon, not just average,” he added before paying tribute to former NFL coach Dennis Green, “That thought has stuck with me throughout my life.”