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Revisionist history: What if Dungy had stayed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

There is nothing new about the outcry. You have heard the frustration before.

Hear the teeth gnashing of the frustrated fan? Hear the dissatisfaction that comes with underachievement? Hear the howls of outrage directed toward the coach?

Why, if you didn't know any better, you'd swear it was 2001 all over again.

Seven years later and we have ourselves an echo.

Back then, of course, the coach stuck on a plateau was Tony Dungy. It was his offense that did not measure up, and it was his name that was being debated. Dungy was fired. Perhaps you heard about it.

But what if he hadn't been fired? What if the Glazers had been patient (or slow, if you prefer) back then, too. What if they had been reasoned (or distracted) back then?

What if Dungy had never left?

Jan. 11, 2002: The night before a playoff game with Philadelphia, Bryan Glazer says he is uneasy about the double-secret coaching negotiations with Bill Parcells. Who says Parcells won't change his mind again? Joel agrees, and the two light the grill with a signed Parcells contract.

Jan. 15, 2002: Days after losing to the Eagles 31-9, the Glazers announce a contract extension for Dungy. The media are scolded for ever doubting. "Who is this Parcells person?" the Glazers say.

Feb. 20, 2002: Raiders owner Al Davis trades coach Jon Gruden to Miami. The Dolphins surrender two first-round picks, two seconds, $8-million in cash and a large bowl of banana pudding.

March 15, 2002: The Atlanta Falcons sign running back Warrick Dunn to a $28-million contract. "You know how I feel about Warrick," Dungy said, "but players move on. Maybe he'll be back someday."

April 20, 2002: With the 21st pick in the NFL draft, the Bucs take Florida wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. The next round, they take Florida receiver Reche Caldwell. "Don't we always take a Florida receiver?" general manager Rich McKay says.

Dec. 29, 2002: The Bucs complete an 11-5 season by beating the Chicago Bears 15-0.

Jan. 1, 2003: The Cowboys hire Parcells as coach.

Jan. 19, 2003: In the NFC title game, the Bucs lose to the Eagles. The Bucs' only touchdown is a late 92-yard interception return by Ronde Barber. The Eagles go on to win the Super Bowl.

April 26, 2003: In the NFL draft, the Bucs select Florida wide receiver Taylor Jacobs.

Oct. 24, 2003: Days after a loss in San Francisco, wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson is so angry, he wears flip-flops to practice. The next day, he is surprised to see that his uniform has been replaced by a Hawaiian shirt and a sun hat. "That's what you'll be wearing on Sunday," Dungy tells him.

Oct. 24, 2003: Johnson says he's sorry. "Another coach might have been done with me," he says.

Dec. 28, 2003: The Bucs finish a disappointing 9-7 season with a loss to Tennessee, barely missing the playoffs.

Jan. 2, 2004: Despite the public outcry, Dungy refuses to replace offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. Christensen, however, resigns to go into private business. He is replaced by assistant Jim Caldwell.

March 12, 2004: The Bucs announce that safety John Lynch has taken a pay cut to remain with the team.

March 20, 2004: Longtime Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp signs with the Raiders.

April 24, 2004: With their second-round pick, the Bucs draft University of Florida tight end Ben Troupe. In the third round, they pick Virginia quarterback Matt Schaub. "There is something I like about him," McKay says.

Jan. 2, 2005: Despite 1,000 yards by running back Thomas Jones, the Bucs beat the Cardinals to finish a disappointing 9-7. "It could have been worse," Dungy said. "It could have been 5-11."

Oct. 30, 2005: The Bucs send Simeon Rice home before a game against San Francisco. Rice says that on the trip home, he read his prayer book, not men's magazines, as reported.

Jan. 14, 2006: Tampa Bay loses its second-round playoff game to Seattle. Fans yell that Dungy cannot win the big one.

Sept. 24, 2006: The Bucs lose starting quarterback Chris Simms, who ruptures a spleen against Carolina. Fortunately, they have a young quarterback in his second year, Schaub, who helps the team avoid disaster.

Dec. 31, 2006: The Bucs miss the playoffs at 9-7.

May 15, 2007: Rice announces his retirement. "It has nothing to do with drafting another player," he says. "I am needed on my home planet of Voltron."

Oct. 7, 2007: The Bucs lose to the Colts 33-14. "You can only imagine what it would be like to coach a guy like Peyton Manning," Dungy says.

Dec. 30, 2007: The Bucs beat Carolina 31-23 to finish the season 10-6. "I prefer to rest starters," Dungy said. "But we needed to be better going into the playoffs."

Jan. 6, 2008: The Bucs lose to the Giants 24-14 in a playoff game.

March 14, 2008: Lynch retires to pursue a coaching career. Perhaps at the University of Tennessee. Perhaps as a defensive coordinator.

Sept. 8, 2008: Dolphins coach Gruden benches quarterback Jeff Garcia. Some things are just destiny.

Dec. 28, 2008: Free agent signee Michael Turner goes over 1,200 yards as the Bucs beat Oakland 27-7 to clinch a playoff spot at 10-6.

Jan. 4, 2009: Today, Tony Dungy again chases that Super Bowl ring he has never won. Who knows? Maybe it will come against Gruden, who is still chasing one himself.

To sum up, life might have been a little more consistent in an alternative world.

But perhaps the rewards wouldn't have included a Lombardi Trophy.

Which would you choose?

Revisionist history: What if Dungy had stayed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? 01/03/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 5, 2009 4:17pm]
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