Tony Dungy says impending Hall of Fame enshrinement 'doesn't seem real'
Former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy never imagined a Pro Football Hall of Fame coaching career when he finally got the chance to lead a team in Tampa Bay in 1996. At that time there weren't many African American NFL head coaches and he feels he will be representing a lot of those men who paved his road to Canton, Ohio when he is enshrined at an induction ceremony Aug. 6.
'You think about the cream of the cream of the NFL being in there,’’ Dungy said Wednesday on a national conference call. “To think that you’re going to be in that group is still hard to believe.
“I’m humbled, but it still doesn’t seem real. It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be very special.’’
Dungy had a 148-79 overall record during his 13-year head coaching career that began with the Bucs in '96 and ended with the Colts after the '08 season. He became the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl when the Colts beat Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears to end the '06 season.
Dungy says he owes a lot to trailblazers, from Art Shell, the NFL's first African American coach in the modern era with the Raiders in 1989, to Fritz Pollard, who coached the Akron Pros in the 1920s.
“It is very significant and I feel proud to represent a lot of those men,” Dungy said. “That’s something that my Dad was awfully proud of. I think that’s why he took me to the Browns and Lions game (as a kid) because the Browns had so many special African-American players at that time.
“Paul Brown had done so much to integrate the league. Without saying that, he impressed on me the importance of that. When I came into the league as a player, there were not a lot of African-American coaches. But the guys who were there were role models for us.”
Dungy said the highlights of his career was earning a spot on the Steelers, reaching the playoffs in '97 as the Bucs coach and coaching against Smith in Super Bowl XLI.
'I did realize the significance of becoming a head coach,” Dungy said. “Going to the Super Bowl. Coaching in the Super Bowl as an African-American head coach and now going into the Hall of Fame.
“You just feel like you’re representing a lot of men and a group of men who put a lot into this league and helped to make it what it is. I’m proud of that.”