He won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts.
He took the worst franchise in NFL history and made them relevant again.
Yet, he is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The debate has been on for a while about the possible induction of Tony Dungy into the hallowed halls of Canton. To me, it should be a no brainer. This guy is one of the greatest coaches of all time, and deserves his place in football immortality.
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Trent Dilfer in 1994, the team looked like a team on the rise. They had also drafted John Lynch and Errict Rhett, had acquired Hardy Nickerson from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and had developed a fresh attitude. However, the team was coached by Sam Wyche, who had been a offensive wizard in his day, and even coached the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl in 1989, but by 1994, his best years had passed him by. His style of coaching did not mix well with the style the Buccaneers were playing. After a 7-9 finish, he was shown the door.
New owner Malcolm Glazer and GM Rich McKay tried to put a new stamp on this team. They wanted a defensive minded coach with fresh ideas, and to help Tampa Bay get back to the playoffs for the first time since 1982.
Enter Tony Dungy.
Even though Dungy was a newcomer to the head coaching ranks, he was no stranger to the NFL. He had won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1979, and had served as both defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator under his mentor, Chuck Noll. After stops in Kansas City for Marty Schottenheimer and Minnesota for Dennis Green, Dungy seemed ready to take that next step.
A few months after he was hired, the Buccaneers had a very fruitful draft, selecting Regan Upshaw with their first round pick. In the second round, the Bucs picked a truck of a fullback from Purdue-Mike Alstott. They also selected defensive back Donnie Abraham with a third round selection. These selections, along with the drafting of Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks from the 1995 Draft, made the Buccaneers a team to watch out for in 1996.
However, it didn't start out that way.
The Buccaneers didn't turn heads in 1996, going 6-10 in their first year with Dungy. However, the team's defense showed promise, and it was clear to people that this team would be a force to be reckoned with in years to come.
The stellar play of the defense, mixed in with the play of Trent Dilfer, Mike Alstott, and Warrick Dunn earned Tampa Bay a playoff spot in 1997, and pretty soon, the Buccaneers were the darlings of the NFL. They beat Detroit in the first round of the playoffs, then fell to eventual NFC Champion Green Bay in the second round.
Despite the loss, the groundwork had been set.
1998 proved to be a so-so year for these young Buccaneers, going 8-8, and just missing out on a playoff berth. Despite the disappointment, the Bucs sent 5 players to the Pro Bowl, and Derrick Brooks had a monster year, getting 156 tackles, and making All-Pro.
The start to the 1999 season looked bleak, as Trent Dilfer experienced shaky play and was injured in week 10 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Enter unknown Shaun King, who led the Buccaneers to a 6-1 record in Dilfer's absence and an improbable run to the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to Kurt Warner and the Rams 11-6.
With the success of the 1999 season behind them, Buccaneers management expected the team to make it to the Super Bowl. However, it didn't turn out the way they wanted. After the Bucs were eliminated in the 2000 and 2001 playoffs to the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa wished Tony Dungy nothing but the best in his future endeavors.
However, the ex-Bucs skipper wasn't out of work long. The Indianapolis Colts, who had just sent their coach Jim Mora Sr. packing, hired Dungy, and hoped that he could be the one to bring Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James and the rest of the Colts to the promised land.
It took a little while, but the Colts finally climbed over the hump that was called Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl 41. Not only had Peyton Manning exorcised his playoff demons, but the mainstream took notice on how great of a coach Tony Dungy truly was.
After two more years of coaching Indianapolis, Dungy stepped down as coach in 2008, turning the reigns over to his assistant Jim Caldwell. He then accepted a job on Sunday Night Football on NBC as an in-studio analyst, His opinions and knowledge of the game have been a valuable asset to the NBC crew.
When Michael Vick found himself in hot water over the dog fighting scandal that threatened to ruin not just his career, but life in general, he found assistance in the former NFL coach, who gave him valuable advice, and basically got his life on the right path. It would be a great idea if Roger Goodell would hire Dungy to serve as a mentor for troubled players looking to change their lives around. He is a man of impeccable character who carries himself in the best manner possible.
Football wise, it makes absolutely no sense why Tony Dungy hasn't been inducted yet. Even though it's apples and oranges, Joe Namath is in the Hall of Fame, and other than the fact that he guaranteed a Super Bowl for the Jets in Super Bowl 3 against the Colts, his career was lackluster. Dungy's stats speak for themselves, and in all his years as a coach, only missed the playoffs twice. He took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team ravaged by their own ineptitude for 15 years, and made them a winner. Also, his coaching got the Indianapolis Colts their first Super Bowl title since they were located in Baltimore.
If that doesn't say Hall of Fame, I don't know what does.