Thursday, July 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tony Dungy prepares for inspirational Hall of Fame speech

CANTON, Ohio — Performing the induction speech, which is only supposed to take less than 15 minutes tonight, won't be much of a problem for Tony Dungy.

The former Colts and Bucs coach has carved out a lucrative career as an NFL analyst on NBC and doesn't melt in front of a microphone under the bright television lights. But the message he wants to deliver, besides the many thank yous, that's a little more difficult.

At a news conference Friday, Dungy might have given a little preview of the encouraging words he plans to speak when he becomes the first African-American head coach inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Don't ever let anyone even allow you to think you can't do something," Dungy said. "Set your goals high and even if it's never been done before, if that's your goal, you can do it. I didn't set out to be the first African-American coach to win (a Super Bowl), but I wanted to be excellent. I wanted to coach. I came in when there weren't a lot of African-American even assistant coaches. But you can't let history stand in your way. You can't let obstacles stop you. Find a way to accomplish what you want to do. And stay encouraged. Don't let people discourage you."

Dungy's faith has been his compass for his life, but his career is one of overcoming barriers. He was a college quarterback at Minnesota who was undrafted. He had to switch positions to safety when he came to the NFL with the Steelers and won a Super Bowl. He was traded to the 49ers and found himself cut by the Giants after only three pro seasons. But a chance to work as an assistant with the Steelers and coach Chuck Noll likely set him on an unlikely path to immortality.

"He taught us it's not all about football, it's how you live," Dungy, 60, said. "We had family Saturdays, and I can still remember my oldest son, James, during defensive periods when I was on the field, he was sitting on (future Hall of Fame receiver) John Stallworth's lap … and we did it every Saturday."

Dungy continued that practice when he became head coach at Tampa Bay and later Indianapolis. It wasn't always well received by quarterback Peyton Manning, who wanted to keep the fields clean for extra passing work.

A few years ago, Dungy went to Denver to interview Manning and former Colts receiver Brandon Stokley approached him. "You'll never believe this, but Peyton went to Coach (John) Fox and he asked if we could get family Saturdays," Stokley told him.

On Friday, at the Ray Nitschke luncheon in which current members of the Hall of Fame greet the Class of 2016, Dungy found himself at a table exclusively with Steelers. He became emotional when he recounted a story about late owner Art Rooney sending Dungy's mother a letter after he had been traded to the 49ers.

"I get traded to the 49ers. Two weeks later, my mom is reading me a letter from Art Rooney, 'It's been great having your son here, anytime you want to come back, you're always a Steeler,' " Dungy said. "That was the Chief."

Dungy said the lessons he learned in Tampa Bay, and some of his failures, made him a better coach with the Colts. But he never set out to make history. In fact, he believes others who came before him were more worthy of it.

"It's crazy. I'm honored. I'm proud. I'm just grateful in a lot of ways," Dungy said. "I'm a little bit sad in some ways because I know I shouldn't have been the first. I was talking about (former quarterback) James Harris about that today, about some of the coaches, his coach Eddie Robinson, who didn't get the chance to show what he could do in the NFL and would've been a winner and might have had a Super Bowl win had he been given the opportunity. But on the other side, you're proud and feel like you're representing a group of coaches who maybe didn't get the opportunity."

But Dungy knows the Rooney Rule, which requires a team interview a minority candidate before selecting a head coach, seems to have lost its effectiveness. Of the 22 first-time head coaches hired in the NFL over the past five years, only one has been a minority: Todd Bowles.

However, Dungy remains optimistic.

"The thing we have to do is keep educating owners, university presidents, general managers, athletic directors that there's a group of talent out there you don't want to overlook," Dungy said.

Comments
Quarterback rankings: The best seasons in Buccaneers history

Quarterback rankings: The best seasons in Buccaneers history

It was Dec. 20, 1981, the final Sunday of the NFL regular season, and the NFC Central title was on the line. The Buccaneers were in Detroit, where the Lions hadn’t lost all season.The Lions, who were favored by a touchdown, took a 7-3 lead in t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs camp, Erik Karlsson, British Open, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs camp, Erik Karlsson, British Open, more

Besides Jameis Winston, what is the biggest storyline for the Bucs entering training camp? How would you describe the Rays season in one word?Is the Lightning deal for Erik Karlsson dead? Who will win the British Open? Rick Stroud answers these quest...
Published: 07/19/18
Free passes to Bucs training camp already going fast

Free passes to Bucs training camp already going fast

Those free passes to a limited window for the general public to see the Bucs practice in training camp are already almost gone.Last month, the team announced that only six practices would be open to the  general public, with fans required to go ...
Published: 07/19/18
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Remember last year, when the opening credits to "Hard Knocks" showed DeSean Jackson pulling up to Bucs training camp in a white Ferrari 488 GTB, which starts around $250,000?Training camp doesn't start until next week, but we have an early leader for...
Published: 07/18/18
‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

When Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, one of the lingering questions was whether the team would still feature him prominently in their marketing efforts to fans.The team released four sho...
Published: 07/18/18
Star cornerback, onetime Buc Darrelle Revis retiring after 11 NFL seasons

Star cornerback, onetime Buc Darrelle Revis retiring after 11 NFL seasons

Revis Island is closed for business. Darrelle Revis, a star cornerback with the New York Jets, a Super Bowl winner with their archrivals, the New England Patriots, and a onetime Buc, has retired. Revis announced Wednesday on social media that he was ...
Published: 07/18/18
Yes, Jameis Winston can set Bucs career passing records in 2018

Yes, Jameis Winston can set Bucs career passing records in 2018

Bucs veterans report for training camp one week from today, and we're continuing to look at what big records could fall for Tampa Bay in 2018.It seems impossible, even given the lack of sustained quarterback success throughout the Bucs' 41-year histo...
Published: 07/18/18
Bucs’ new run defense will be tested early, often in 2018

Bucs’ new run defense will be tested early, often in 2018

Much of the focus on the Bucs upgrading their defensive line has been, understandably, that Tampa Bay finished last in the league in sacks last season, with just 22. But as Gerald McCoy pointed out several times in 2017, you can't get to the quarterb...
Published: 07/18/18
Barry Sanders turns 50: Watch some of his 2,195 yards vs. Bucs

Barry Sanders turns 50: Watch some of his 2,195 yards vs. Bucs

Lions legend Barry Sanders turned 50 on Monday, and as a tribute, the NFL posted a 10-minute highlight video of the Hall of Famer's top 50 runs. As any older Bucs fans can attest, many of them came at the expense of Tampa Bay's defense, seen chasing ...
Published: 07/17/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jimbo Fisher discusses Florida State, Jameis Winston

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jimbo Fisher discusses Florida State, Jameis Winston

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher was front and center Monday at SEC media days and spoke about leaving Florida State and why Jameis Winston will have no problem moving on from his suspension.Plus, Blake Snell might be the third AL pitcher ...
Published: 07/17/18