Face it, Tampa Bay still looks to Tony Dungy

When considering the face of Tampa Bay sports, focus on the man who takes takes this community with him wherever he goes.
MONICA HERNDON  |   TimesFormer Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy is seen along the sidelines prior the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 in Tampa. Dungy will be inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor during halftime against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
MONICA HERNDON | TimesFormer Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy is seen along the sidelines prior the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 in Tampa. Dungy will be inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor during halftime against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Published July 8

 

On those occasions I have breakfast with former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy, always a great time, the man always orders the same thing: blueberry pancakes and a glass of milk.

His order never changes.

He never changes.

Thank goodness.

Here’s the face of Tampa Bay sports.

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Dungy was fired out of Tampa Bay as if from a cannon. I remember the night well, Tony Dungy, axed Bucs head coach, carrying his belongings in the rain. What a way for it to end.

But it didn’t end.

Dungy went on to win a Super Bowl in Indianapolis, went on to win as many games when he was there as Bill Belichick did at the same time in New England. Then Dungy went on to fame as a TV analyst for NBC. Then he went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He became a best-selling author and a prized, highly-paid motivational speaker. All of this after he left Tampa Bay.

But he never left.

Dungy still lives here, still gets spotted at Publix near his home. He has raised his family here. He has been all we want in our sports celebrities, I don’t always agree with his politics, but Dungy makes you proud that he never left and that he carries our community with him wherever he goes.

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We watched him on top of the world. We watched him bury a son. We watched him endure. We watched and learned from his grace and strength. Even his biggest detractors, and they exist, can never say this is not a good and decent man, the kind any city would love to call its own.

Maybe it’s not right, calling a guy who never played here, who never coaches the Bucs to the big one, the face of sports in Tampa Bay.

Then I’m all wrong.

And happy to be.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly.

 

 

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