The questions I’ve been asked most since voting on the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2016 in San Francisco; why is Tony Dungy in and how come Terrell Owens is out?
Here’s the case for Tony Dungy, who spent years 6 years as head coach in Tampa Bay followed by 7 years in Indianapolis.
Dungy’s rebuilding job with the Bucs was significant; he inherited a Tampa Bay team that hadn’t had a winning season in 13 years. Three of those teams went 2-14, all but one of the 13 teams suffered double digit losses. His first team in Tampa Bay went 7-9 but that was Dungy’s only losing season.
His Buc’s were no longer a joke; they would go to the playoffs 5 of the next 6 years. The year after Dungy left, Jon Gruden’s Buc’s won the franchises only Super Bowl. Gruden was the head coach but Dungy’s players and his finger prints were all over the Lombardi Trophy. Gruden’s next 6 years were less spectacular with his Buc’s going 45-51.
In 2002, Dungy took over in Indianapolis, he became the first coach in NFL history to have six straight seasons with 12 or more wins. He also became the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl when the Colts downed the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. His post-season 9-10 record isn’t Hall of Fame stuff but taking teams to the playoffs 10 consecutive years is.
Dungy’s career record 139-69 ranks among the best all-time. Among coaches with 100 wins his .668 win percentage is sixth all-time. That’s better than Hall of Fame coaches Joe Gibbs, Curley Lambeau, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells and future Hall of Famer Bill Belichick.
Of the 15 modern-era finalists on the ballot this year I went into the meeting thinking there were 4 who had a strong chance for the maximum 5 spots (Favre, Greene, Harrison, and Pace). That doesn’t mean I thought only 4 were worthy, more that the timing was right for people like Kevin Greene who had waited too long for this day.
All 4 of my suspects made the grade and will be wearing Gold Jackets this August. Tony Dungy scored the open spot, no he wasn’t on my I think he’s in this year list, but I had no hesitation checking his yes box when he was 1 of the 5 on the final modern-era ballot. Tony Dungy is a Hall of Fame coach and a Hall of Fame person and like the teams he’s coached Canton is better with him.