Sportsmanship in Black: Tony Dungy

Anthony Kevin “Tony” Dungy was born October 6, 1955 in Jackson, Michigan.  He was the four-year starting quarterback at the University of Minnesota from 1973-1976.  When Dungy graduated, he was Minnesota’s career leader in pass attempts, completions, touchdowns, and passing yards.  He remains ninth on the school’s passing list some 35 years after graduation.  Dungy went undrafted despite his stellar college career.  The Pittsburgh Steelers signed him 1977 and converted him to defensive back.  Dungy holds the distinction of being the only player since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to complete a pass and intercept a pass in the same game.  In a game against the Houston Oilers in 1977, he was listed as the emergency quarterback.  When Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek left the game with injuries, Dungy entered the lineup at quarterback.  He had already played most of the game at defensive back.

Dungy retired in 1980 and returned to his Alma mater as defensive backs coach.  After one season at Minnesota, he would spend the next 15 years as a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for three different NFL teams.  Dungy would get his head coaching opportunity when he was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996.  Dungy’s six years in Tampa were arguably the most successful in franchise history.  The Buccaneers won 10 or more games three times and were a game away from the Super Bowl in 1999.  Although the Buccaneers did finally win a Super Bowl in 2002, coach Jon Gruden gave much of the credit to Dungy for being the architect of the team.

When Tampa Bay fired Dungy after the 2001 season, he did not remain unemployed long.  The Indianapolis Colts hired him immediately and the team has never experienced more success.  Dungy’s Colts made the playoffs with 10 or more wins in each of Dungy’s seven seasons – culminating in a Super Bowl XLI victory over the Chicago Bears.  The Super Bowl triumph made Dungy the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl.  NFL teams are known for copying success.  Teams all over the country run the “West Coast” offense because of the success Bill Walsh had with the San Francisco 49ers.  Several of his assistants earned head coaching positions due to their association with Walsh.  The same is true of Dungy.  His famed “Tampa 2” defense is being run by many NFL teams.  Moreover, four of his former assistants are among the seven African-American head coaches working in the league today.

Tony Dungy also proved that people of good principle and positive character could win at the highest level.  So often, we hear of coaches who tear their players down with profanity and insults.  Dungy chose to talk to his players with respect and he got the same from them.  Since retiring from coaching in 2008, Dungy continues to mentor players and other men through the All-Pro Dad organization.  His coaching philosophy is a shining example for all coaches in any sport.  He explains this philosophy in the video below (Email subscribers click here).  Tony Dungy is my favorite coach and the example I use most when I say that people who practice good sportsmanship can be winners too.  Until next time…

Be a Good Sport!

-Sol

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