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Tony Dungy Broke Barriers, While Leaving a Lasting Hall of Fame Legacy

Aug 6, 2016; Canton, OH, USA; Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy poses with his bust during the 2016 NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2016; Canton, OH, USA; Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy poses with his bust during the 2016 NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday evening along with his former player Marvin Harrison.

Much like in his coaching career, Dungy conducted himself with the utmost class and dignity in his speech–even thanking the ten African-American assistant coaches by name who were coaching when he began his own coaching career and later calling for his own former players to receive a standing ovation as a sign of his appreciation:

Of course, Dungy’s track record speaks for itself. Among his most notable career head coaching accomplishments are as follows:

  • Super Bowl XLI Championship
  • 1st African American Head Coach to win a Super Bowl
  • 139-69 record (.668)
  • 6 Division Titles
  • Reached playoffs in 11 of 13 seasons
  • Only endured 1 losing season in coaching career

Not to mention, Dungy was one of the founding fathers of the infamous “Tampa 2” defense, having successfully coached the likes of defensive stars such as Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, and Ronde Barber while with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Aug 6, 2016; Canton, OH, USA; Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy looks on during the 2016 NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2016; Canton, OH, USA; Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy looks on during the 2016 NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

While Dungy never won a Super Bowl with Tampa, he helped turn around what was previously a laughing stock NFL franchise, as the Buccaneers made the playoffs in 4 of 6 seasons under Dungy’s tutelage, having only had 3 winning seasons in the franchise’s 20 seasons prior–including 13 consecutive losing seasons pre-Dungy.

In 2002, the Colts made a big coaching splash by hiring Dungy, hoping the highly regarded defensive coach could finally bring some resemblance of a “D” to Indy with a prolific offense led by Peyton Manning already intact

He didn’t disappoint, as Dungy’s Colts teams were among the most winningest teams from 2002-08, making the playoffs in all 7 of his seasons coaching the team. Dungy’s coaching career was highlighted by a Super Bowl XLI Championship in 2006, as his masterfully coached defense helped carry the team to its first Super Bowl title in Indianapolis.

However, it’s not just what Dungy did on the sidelines, as much as how he impacted the game of football forever as we know it. Not only did he break existing race barriers for minority head coaches, but he laid the groundwork for future African American coaches to follow suit.

Aug 6, 2016; Canton, OH, USA; Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy looks on as he stands with his bust during the 2016 NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2016; Canton, OH, USA; Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy looks on as he stands with his bust during the 2016 NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

In similar fashion, Dungy credited Fritz Pollard, who was the first African American head coach, for paving the way for his own coaching career during his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech. Pollard was subsequently the first African American head coach to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but Dungy now joins his rare elite company.

Driven by faith and family, Dungy cared individually about each and every player he coached. In a day and age where NFL players are treated as a means to an end and expendable when they are deemed no longer useful, Dungy looked at each player as a person and treated them like grown men.

He was more than just a coach. For some, he was a mentor, friend, and even father-like presence:

"“Coach Dungy,” said Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison in his own enshrinement speech moments before Tony Dungy took center stage. “My final head coach. I can stand up here for 10-15 minutes and tell you how important it was to have you as my head coach and talk about football, but what you brought to our team and to me was more important than anything. You taught us how to be teammates. You taught us how to be men. But the most important thing is, you taught us about fatherhood. And I think that’s more important than anything a head coach or any head coach could ever tell his players, about fatherhood. So I thank you for that.”"

It’s why no player in his locker rooms wanted to disappoint him because they just absolutely hated to let him down despite Dungy never raising his voice or angrily voicing his displeasure. He treated them like people, not just players–and those he coached bought into his system and mindset:

As such, the Colts head coaching great was one of a kind and remains one of the most well-respected professionals in football. On Saturday, he reached football immortality, having left a lasting Hall of Fame legacy that will never be forgotten: