State Your Case: Tony Dungy

Tony Dungy photo courtesy Indianapolis Colts

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 1: Head Coach Tony Dungy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on October 1, 2000 in Landover, Maryland. The Buccaneers lost 17-20. (photo by R Rogers/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

(Photos courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts & Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

By Rick Gosselin

Talk of Fame Network

Players get paid in the NFL to play. Assistant coaches get paid in the NFL to coach. But head coaches and quarterbacks get paid by their NFL teams to win.

So Tony Dungy ought to be a rich man from the time he spent on NFL sidelines.

Few coaches have won in the NFL like Dungy. He averaged 10.7 victories in his 13 seasons, an NFL record. He took teams to the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons, an NFL record. He posted six consecutive 12-win seasons, another NFL record tied by Bill Belichick this season. He is the all-time winningest head coach for two NFL franchises, the Colts and Buccaneers.

Dungy won 66.8 percent of his career games, eighth best of all men who spent at least 10 seasons on an NFL sideline as a head coach. The seven coaches in front of him are all in the Hall of Fame and most are iconic names: John Madden, Vince Lombardi, George Allen, Ray Flaherty, George Halas, Don Shula and Paul Brown. And the coach immediately behind Dungy is Belichick at 66.4 percent.

If you assume Dungy should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his coaching skills, you are correct in that assumption. He is one of the 18 finalists for the Class of 2016, his third consecutive year as a finalist. Dungy was eliminated in the first cutdown from 15 to 10 in 2014, then was eliminated in the second cutdown from 10 to 5 in 2015. That progression offers him hope in 2016.

Dungy won during the first half of his coaching career at Tampa Bay with defense. He won in the back half of his career at Indianapolis with a quarterback.

Dungy arrived in Tampa in 1996, inheriting a 7-9 team that ranked 27th in both offense and defense. A former defensive coordinator with the Steelers and Vikings, Dungy fixed the defense immediately. The Bucs went 6-10 in his debut season but vaulted to 11th in the NFL in defense, allowing 42 fewer points. Dungy coached 12 more seasons in the NFL and never had another losing season.

In 1999, Dungy took the Buccaneers to the NFC title game with the NFL’s third-best defense and Shaun King at quarterback. Yes, Shaun King, a rookie making just his seventh career start. Tampa Bay didn’t stand a chance playing in St. Louis against the Greatest Show on Turf. Except that Dungy scripted a defensive gameplan that gave his team a chance.

The Rams entered the game averaging 32.8 points and 400.1 yards per game. But St. Louis didn’t score its only touchdown until 4:44 remained in regulation and squeaked by Tampa Bay, 11-6. The Buccaneers’ defense held NFL MVP Kurt Warner under 300 yards passing and Hall of Fame halfback Marshall Faulk under 50 yards rushing in the near upset. The Rams would go on to win the Super Bowl.

Two years and two playoff berths later, the Bucs fired Dungy. The following season, Tampa Bay did win a Super Bowl under Jon Gruden, riding the NFL’s best defense — a defense built by Dungy to his specifications with his draft picks.

Dungy would win a Super Bowl of his own five years later with Peyton Manning and the Colts.

Super Bowl rings are important for coaches. They are important for all Super Bowl candidates. Of the 295 men that have been enshrined in Canton, 68 percent won championships.

“He built the team that Jon Gruden won his Super Bowl with,” Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian said. “If you want to count that as 1 ½ Super Bowls, I do.”

Make that 2 ½ Super Bowls. Dungy won a Super Bowl as a defensive back on the 1978 Steelers. He also has historical perspective on his resume. Dungy became the first African-American coach to win an NFL championship. And his coaching tree has produced three other African-American head coaches — Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin and Jim Caldwell.

“Tony Dungy has made the NFL game better on virtually every front,” said Polian, who hired Dungy as head coach of the Colts in 2002.

Tampa was a better place because Tony Dungy passed through. Indianapolis is a better place because Tony Dungy passed through. Canton would be a better place, too.

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  1. Sports Fan
    February 2, 2016

    ATTN: 46 PFHOF Selectors/Voters
    Ron Borges
    Rick Gosselin
    Clark Judge
    Talk Of Fame Sports Network

    MUST READ for ALL Selectors/Voters – NFL – PFHOF
    Thought you might find this interesting

    Re: Tony Dungy
    I noted when he first won a Super Bowl that he deserved to be in PFHOF

    At last PFHOF 2015 Final Selection: “THEY” the other Voters brought up Tom Flores

    Tony Dungy has been a Finalist three (3) years in a row

    – 2014 – He made the cut from 25 Semi-Finalists to 15 Finalists

    – 2015 – He made the cut from 15 Finalists to next level 10 Finalists

    – 2016 – Thus far he made the cut from 25 Semi-Finalists to 15 Finalists

    Keep in mind:
    Tom Flores is now going on 29 years & counting has NEVER been a Semi-Finalist

    Tony Dungy in his 1st year of eligibility 2014 made it all the way to the Finalist level



    Kaufman Optimistic Former Bucs Head Coach Dungy Makes The Hall Of Fame 2016

    Ira Kaufman Tampa Tribune media representative that makes the cases for former Bucs

    “I am fairly optimistic about (Tony) Dungy going into San Francisco (site of this year’s Super Bowl and where the Hall of Fame member are announced),” Kaufman said.
    “He made the cut from 15 to 10 last year (2015),
    and the year before (2014), he did not.
    Now he has to make that one more cut (to make), from 10 to five.”

    Despite the records and longevity, Kaufman said there is still one thing that sits uneasy with a few of the voters.

    “The one knock on Dungy is the one Super Bowl (appearance and win),” Kaufman said. “And there are guys with two Super Bowl wins who aren’t in. There are several guys with two Super Bowl wins that can’t get any traction. That came up with the Dungy presentation because THEY SAID, ‘Why are we talking about a guy with one Super Bowl when there is TOM FLORES and Jimmy Johnson.’ “


    Tony Dungy is deserving but so is Tom Flores, Flores has been waiting longer and will turn 80yrs old in 2017 for PFHOF17 – PFHOF2017

    The Quarterback the most important position on the field

    The Impact of having a 1st Ballot PFHOF QB

    Important Numbers:

    As of #PFHOF2015
    There are 295 PFHOF’s Inducted
    23 are QBs
    11 QBs 1st Ballot P’FHOFs
    Don Coryell 1 – 1st Ballot PFHOF QB
    Tony Dungy 1 – 1st Ballot PFHOF QB
    Jimmy Johnson 2 – 1st Ballot PFHOF QBs

    That accounts for 4 out of 11 1st Ballot PFHOF QBs

    *Tom Flores had Zero (0) PFHOF QBs
    SUPER BOWL 50 Media Day

    Coach Ron Rivera thoughts on the #PFHOF

    Paul Gutierrez
    ESPN Staff Writer
    Should two-time Super Bowl champion coach Tom Flores be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

    “Oh yeah. I think if you coach this game and you have the success that he’s had, he should get that opportunity. He should.” – Panthers coach Ron Rivera, when I asked him about the former Raiders coach, whom he referred to as a “pioneer” in the game.

  2. Sports Fan
    February 9, 2016

    “Re: Tony Dungy
    I noted when he first won a Super Bowl that he deserved to be in PFHOF”
    Congratulations on his selection to be Inducted
    *Long overdue
    Re: “Long overdue”…..

    ATTN: 46 PFHOF Selectors/Voters
    Ron Borges
    Rick Gosselin
    Clark Judge
    Talk Of Fame Sports Network

    MUST READ for ALL Selectors/Voters – NFL – PFHOF

    “Apparently NFL H.O.F. voters can consider barrier-breaking feats … unless you’re Hispanic”


    Same author as the link noted above

    Sports Fan
    February 18, 2015 at 8:37 pm
    From 2007 – John P. Lopez

    On a day of diversity, let’s not forget Flores

    Pack journalism has been at its tightly grouped best for two weeks now, never straying from Miami stories that are certainly nice, intriguing and, of course, worthwhile.

    There’s been the whole Peyton Manning thing. There’s been the sorry NFL pension plan thing.

    There’s been the obligatory no-respect angle for the Chicago Bears.
    And of course Saturday, there was the Hall of Fame quandary — so many candidates, so few slots and so much closed-door politicking from a mere 40 voters.

    This is not to bash my journalistic brethren. Super Bowl week isn’t exactly conducive to originality.

    Overlooking the obvious

    But it is to illustrate that even those at the tops of their crafts can sometimes fail to recognize the irony and injustice staring them in the face.

    More than any other story, the prevailing theme for Super Bowl XLI has been the groundbreaking accomplishment of coaches Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith becoming the first black coaches in the Super Bowl.

    It is a wonderful thing, of course.

    A day has not gone by in the Super Bowl’s buildup when Dungy and Smith have not been asked, often dozens of times, about the standard they have set.

    But groundbreaking?

    Well, yeah. In one respect they are, but the term that has been thrown about so much this week is not altogether right.

    On the other end of the telephone this week, speaking from his home in California, was former Oakland Raiders coach and general manager Tom Flores.

    Some 26 years ago, Flores was the first Hispanic coach to take a team to a Super Bowl.

    In the official NFL Web recap of that 27-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Flores’ name is not mentioned.

    Flores went on to win another Super Bowl, as well as become the first Hispanic NFL general manager and first Hispanic NFL club president.

    Flores’ starting quarterback in Super Bowl XV was Jim Plunkett, who was the first Hispanic quarterback to play in and win a Super Bowl, throwing for three touchdowns and 261 yards.

    So how many questions did Flores and Plunkett get about their pioneering Super Bowl feat 26 years ago?

    “None,” Flores said. “Not one question that I can remember.

    “I was aware of it and in the (Hispanic) communities I would visit and places I went, it was a big deal. It did not go unnoticed. Hispanics were aware of it.

    “But that’s where it ended. The writers just didn’t ask that question. It wasn’t a story and honestly, at the time I just wanted to worry about coaching football.”

    A degree of hypocrisy

    Today, of course, is a good day to recognize inclusiveness and diversity in sports.

    But it also is a day when the hypocrisy of NFL officials and members of the media practically pulling muscles as they pat themselves on the back over recognizing Dungy and Smith — should be noted as well.

    Dungy and Smith deserve every accolade and compliment they get, but Saturday’s Hall of Fame vote showed just how much the league and those who cover it have not captured the whole picture.

    This year, there was much hand-wringing, lobbying and angst over what was considered a talented and all-too deserving list of Pro Football Hall candidates. Some 17 names made the final ballot for Hall entry.

    But one that did not make the list: Flores.

    If you do not think this is as egregious an omission as ever — discriminatory, really — ask yourself these questions, Hall voters:

    Would you recognize a man who was the first black NFL quarterback?

    What if that man also was the first black to coach a Super Bowl team? The first to win a Super Bowl? Then two? And that same man then became the first black NFL general manager?

    Would you recognize him if he also won more games than Bill Walsh or Jimmy Johnson, and had as many wins (105) and Super Bowl titles as Vince Lombardi?

    Would you recognize him if he accomplished all these things the hard way, growing up the son of a blue-collar man who emigrated to the United States as a 12-year-old?

    Would you be swayed by stories of how he constantly was told that people of his ethnicity could not play quarterback and could not dream of being a coach?

    After college ball, he had to go to the Canadian Football League to prove himself, until a forward-thinking owner named Al Davis found him. Then, he promptly led the league in virtually every quarterbacking category.

    A barrier breaker

    Flores did all of that — an NFL barrier-breaker at virtually every level of the game. Only, he’s not black.

    He is Hispanic. That’s why NFL leadership and those who cover the league should not get full of themselves over celebrating inclusiveness and diversity today.

    They’re still leaving one ethnicity in the trash bin. They’re glossing over the facts, forgetting history and failing to punch the most deserving ticket for Canton, all for the sake of a good story in the here and now.

    “There’s a sense of pride for what I did for Hispanics,” Flores said. “I became more aware of what it meant to Hispanic people as the years have gone by.

    “But I don’t wear it on my lapel. I’m proud of it. But I’d rather be remembered as the first to get to the Super Bowl and win it. Al Davis knew he was hiring a minority, but he didn’t hire me because of that. He hired me because he thought I could win football games, and that’s why it means more.”

    Still, as Flores has felt a sense of pride for Dungy and Smith lately, the rest of the football world should feel obligated to right a longtime wrong.

    “Nobody other than my wife, family and friends made a big deal about it back then,” Flores said. “It wasn’t a story at that time.

    “Nobody ever thought history was being made.”

    Sadly, 26 years later, most still don’t.

  3. bachslunch
    March 6, 2016

    Comparing Tony Dungy to Tom Flores shows why the former is deservedly in the HoF and the latter unfortunately doesn’t measure up to him. Flores has 2 SB wins to Dungy’s one, but he got his teams into the postseason only 5 times to Dungy’s 11. Dungy’s assistant coaching record is longer and more distinguished. Dungy gets innovator credit for co-creating the Tampa-2 defense while Flores doesn’t have anything like this. Dungy’s regular season W-L record far exceeds Flores’s, 139-69 .668 to 97-87 .527. And Flores took over a team that was already good, maintained its excellence, then crashed and burned when he left for Seattle. Dungy took over a bad team in Tampa Bay and turned it into a winner, then stabilized an uneven franchise in Indianapolis and won a title with them. In fact, one can easily make an argument for Buddy Parker over Flores. Parker also won two titles, has a better W-L record (104-75-9 .581), and is credited with introducing a major innovation to the NFL, the two-minute drill.

    • Rick Gosselin
      March 8, 2016

      For the record, the Tampa 2 is an offshoot of what Bud Carson ran in Pittsburgh during the 1970s. Dungy always credits Carson for the scheme.

  4. bachslunch
    March 10, 2016

    Rick, thanks for the reply and fair point to make. My impression is that coaching innovations frequently build off the work of others in some way, and it’s not surprising that it’s true of the Tampa-2. I’m still fine with giving Dungy innovator credit for it nonetheless.

  5. Michael Malnicof
    August 7, 2016

    I think both Flores and Jimmy Johnson deserve to be in Canton before Dungy. Both won 2 super bowls and both did it with quarterbacks that are not all time great like Peyton Manning is. Plunkett is a Hall of Very Good and Aikman did his job and is a hall of famer, but he’s not in my top 10 QBs of all time or most people’s.

    Dungy to me UNDERACHIEVED with Manning as they only won 1 Super Bowl and 4 Times in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2008 were 1 and done in the playoffs, with 05 and 07 them being either the #1 or #2 seed. They beat a weak Bears team that the Patriots would have beat if they didn’t blow the lead in the AFC Championship with no viable receivers for Brady to throw to. Dungy is maybe a hall of famer in 10 years, but to me it’s too early for him to be elected

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