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A look back at Tony Dungy's career

Dungy's arrival in Tampa

In 1996, owner Malcolm Glazer embarked on his first head coaching search with the assistance of general manager Rich McKay. Tony Dungy wasn't the Bucs' first choice. Not even close.

Tampa Bay offered the job to Jimmy Johnson, who decided instead to become the Miami Dolphins coach, and Florida coach Steve Spurrier. Dungy had interviewed for four head coaching opportunities and was denied each time. He figured this would be just another disappointment. He had no connection to anyone in the Bucs organization.

His first interview came with McKay at the site of the East-West Shrine all-star game. Before the meeting at Santa Clara Marriott, a screw came out of Dungy's glasses. He didn't have time to fix it, explained his problem, and sat through the meeting with his head titled to one side so his glasses wouldn't come off. "We can forget this job," he told his wife, Lauren.

But Spurrier decided to remain at Florida, Dungy interviewed a second time with McKay at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and a few days later he was hired while dining with Glazer at Bern's Steak House.

Champion of the underdogs

Dungy always had an eye for talent and knowing precisely how a player would fit in the system, particularly on defense. When Dungy arrived in Tampa Bay, Warren Sapp was a No. 1 pick that had been benched the second half of his rookie season. Derrick Brooks was an undersized linebacker playing on the wrong side of the formation. John Lynch was viewed as a converted baseball player who had been moved to linebacker. He drafted FB Mike Alstott, considered too big and lumbering to carry the ball in the NFL, and later, RB Warrick Dunn, who was told he was too small. Alstott went to six Pro Bowls and Dunn was the NFL offensive rookie of the year. The same was true at Indianapolis when he drafted undersized players such as DE Dwight Freeney and S Bob Sanders. "Tony always pulled for the underdogs," former QB Shaun King said. "Everyone said a lot of those guys couldn't be elite players, but he showed them how to max out as players."

Coaching tree

Dungy mentored a lot of assistant coaches, and many have gone on to become head coaches. His impact is felt particularly among minority coaches, and Dungy had an influence on the league's adoption of the Rooney Rule, which requires teams with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one minority candidate. "He was a guy who always thought about giving young coaches opportunities," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "I think if you look at his tree and his legacy, it will be filled with a bunch of guys that were given their first chances … he'd give guys chances that maybe other people wouldn't." A look at the Dungy tree:


Jets, Chiefs head coach


Bears head coach


Steelers head coach


Former Lions head coach, now Bears defensive coordinator


Vikings defensive coordinator and candidate for Rams head coaching job

, Colts 29, Bears 17

Super Bowl XLI

Dungy stands alone as the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl. And he did it against one of his former assistants, Bears coach Lovie Smith. Earlier in the week, they became the first opposing coaches to be photographed with the Lombardi Trophy together. The game started ominously for Indianapolis as the Bears' Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. On a rainy and windy day in Miami, QB Peyton Manning had to rely on his ground game, and the Colts responded with 191 yards rushing while the defense limited Chicago to 265 total yards.

Colts 38, Patriots 34

2006 AFC Championship

The Colts' nemesis for years has been the New England Patriots. It was no different in 2006, when Indianapolis hosted the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. The Colts were awful in the first half and went to the locker room trailing 21-6. "It's still our time," Dungy told his team at halftime. "We're going to win this game." Manning directed a 32-point second half to complete the biggest comeback in championship history.

Colts 38, Bucs 35 (OT)

2003 regular season

On Dungy's 48th birthday, Oct. 6, he faced for the first time the team that had fired him after the 2001 season. Again, it was a historic occasion. Against the Bucs' No. 1-ranked defense, the Colts became the first team to win after trailing by 21 points with four minutes left in a game. A critical injury to Brian Kelly enabled Manning to pick apart the secondary and lead six second-half scoring drives. Mike Vanderjagt kicked the winning 29-yard field goal that caromed off the right upright.

Bucs 20, Lions 10

1997 NFC Wild Card

The Bucs broke a string of 12 straight losing seasons and hosted their first playoff game in 18 years at the Old Sombrero. Tampa Bay's defense bottled up Lions RB Barry Sanders. The Bucs pounded the ball on the ground with Warrick Dunn, the offensive rookie of the year, and Mike Alstott.

Bucs 14, Redskins 13

1999 NFC Divisional playoff

The Bucs fell behind 13-0. But the defense, led by NFL defensive player of the year Warren Sapp, led the comeback. S John Lynch provided a spark with a second-half interception, spiking the ball near the Bucs sideline. It spurred an offensive rally behind rookie QB Shaun King. The victory sent the Bucs to the NFC Championship game against the St. Louis Rams, where they lost 11-6.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Indianapolis Colts

The Dungy list

Each training camp, Dungy hands out a list to players entitled "Five Things That May Get You In USA Today:"

1. Alcohol or illegal drugs

2. Being out after 1 a.m.

3. Driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit

4. Guns

5. Women that you don't know well enough (or that you know too well)

Personal file

Born: Oct. 6, 1955, in Jackson, Miss.

Family: Wife, Lauren; daughters Tiara and Jade; sons Eric, Jordan and Justin, and the late Jamie

Education: University of Minnesota, BA, 1977

Playing career: Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive back, 1977-78

Head coaching record


Overall: 148-79

A look back at Tony Dungy's career 01/12/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 12, 2009 11:18pm]
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