Tony Dungy

Last updated

Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy (2021) B.jpg
Dungy in 2021
No. 21, 27
Position: Safety
Personal information
Born: (1955-10-06) October 6, 1955 (age 67)
Jackson, Michigan, U.S.
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:188 lb (85 kg)
Career information
High school:Parkside (Jackson, Michigan)
College: Minnesota
Undrafted: 1977
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
As player:

As coach:

Career NFL statistics
Interception yards:132
Fumble recoveries:6
Head coaching record
Regular season:139–69 (.668)
Postseason:9–10 (.474)
Career:148–79 (.652)
Player stats at  ·  PFR
Coaching stats at PFR

Anthony Kevin Dungy ( /ˈdʌni/ DUN-jee; born October 6, 1955) is an American former football safety and coach who served as a head coach in the National Football League (NFL) for 13 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts. [1] Dungy's teams became perennial postseason contenders under his leadership, missing the playoffs only twice with Tampa Bay. He led the Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI over the Chicago Bears, making him the first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl. [2] [3] [4]


Dungy began his head coaching tenure in 1996 with the Buccaneers, a franchise regarded as the league's worst, and was successfully able to turn the team's image. Through implementation of the Tampa 2 defensive scheme, Dungy brought new success to the Buccaneers, leading them to four playoff appearances in six seasons during the late 1990s and the early 2000s. [5] [6] [7] [8] He was fired after the 2001 playoffs due to frequent postseason struggles, but is credited with constructing the team that won Super Bowl XXXVII the following year. [9] [10] After his departure from Tampa Bay, Dungy served as the Colts' head coach for seven seasons, qualifying for the playoffs in each, and is often considered a key factor as to why the Colts were so successful throughout the 2000s. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] His greatest success occurred with the Colts' Super Bowl-winning season in 2006, the franchise's first in over three decades and the first since relocating to Indianapolis. [20] He retired from coaching following the 2008 season. [21] [22]

Since retiring, Dungy has served as an analyst on NBC's Football Night in America . He is also the national spokesman for the fatherhood program All Pro Dad. [23] Dungy was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. [24] He is an outspoken advocate for representation and more coaching opportunities for African Americans in the NFL. [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30]

Early life

Born and raised in Jackson, Michigan, Dungy's parents were Wilbur Dungy (1926–2004), a science professor at Jackson College, and Cleomae Dungy (1920–2002), who taught Shakespeare at Jackson High School. Wilbur served as a pilot in the Army Air Forces during World War II with the famed Tuskegee Airmen. [31] After graduating from Parkside High School in 1973, Dungy played college football at the University of Minnesota, and was the Gophers' most valuable player at quarterback in 1975 and 1976. In 1977, he was awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor, recognizing one student athlete from the graduating class of each Big Ten member school, for demonstrating joint athletic and academic excellence throughout their college career. [32]

NFL career

After going undrafted, Dungy signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent and was converted to defensive back, going on to play three seasons in the NFL. His best season was in 1978, when he intercepted six passes and won a championship ring with the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII.

Dungy is the most recent NFL player to intercept a pass and throw an interception in the same game. Dungy was the emergency quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 1977 game against the Houston Oilers when both Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek went down with injuries on October 9. [33] [34] [35]

Coaching career

Assistant coaching positions

In 1982, he was named defensive backfield coach, and was promoted in 1984 to defensive coordinator. Following a 5–11 season in 1988, Steelers owner Dan Rooney forced head coach Chuck Noll to make changes to his coaching staff, which included demoting Dungy back to defensive backs coach. [36]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dungy became an NFL head coach when he was hired by Rich McKay to reform the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team then well known for its lack of success, on January 22, 1996. Dungy installed his version of the Cover 2 defense with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin with a few new wrinkles. The result was the now-famous Tampa 2, though Dungy openly admitted it was based on concepts he had picked up from his days in Pittsburgh. [37]




The following season, the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII, their first appearance in the championship game. Dungy was fired the prior season and replaced with Jon Gruden, because he could not quite get the team there. However, he has been credited by many for constructing the core of that Super Bowl-winning team. [38] [39] [40]

Indianapolis Colts

On January 22, 2002, Dungy was hired as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, [41] a team that at the time was very potent offensively, but very weak defensively. He installed his "Tampa 2" defense immediately and continued to retool the Colts' defense to his liking during his tenure. After joining the Colts, Dungy left the high-powered offense previously installed there by Jim Mora, in both playing style and in personnel, virtually unchanged. Dungy was reunited with Tom Moore, who was retained as offensive coordinator. Moore and Dungy had previously worked together at Minnesota and Pittsburgh. [42]

During his early tenure in Indianapolis, Dungy struggled to fix the Colts' defense and had mixed results in the postseason. In his first season at Indianapolis, the Colts were shut out 41–0 by the New York Jets in a first-round playoff game, and the team lost postseason games to the New England Patriots in both 2003 (in the AFC championship game) and 2004 (in the second round of the playoffs). Dungy signed a three-year contract extension in October 2005 [43] for US$5 million per year. [44] [45]

The Colts' 2006 playoff run was characterized by a marked improvement in defensive play, as the Colts defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, holding one of the NFL's best running backs to less than 50 yards, and upset the favored Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round. On January 21, 2007, after trailing 21–3, the Colts defeated the New England Patriots to become AFC champions and advanced to Super Bowl XLI. This was the largest comeback in conference title-game history. [46]


Dungy (center) along with colleagues Dan Patrick and Rodney Harrison at an NFL game in Denver in September 2013 Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy, and Rodney Harrison.jpg
Dungy (center) along with colleagues Dan Patrick and Rodney Harrison at an NFL game in Denver in September 2013

Coaching firsts

Dungy's career has included several notable firsts. Among them, Dungy is the first NFL head coach to defeat all 32 NFL teams. [47] He was also the youngest assistant coach at age 25 [47] and the youngest coordinator at age 28 in NFL history. [47]

Coaching strategy

On offense, Tony Dungy's strategy involved a conservative, ball-control offense based primarily around running the ball and short, high-percentage passes when he was at Tampa Bay. At Indianapolis, he inherited and kept the offense designed by offensive coordinator Tom Moore because the offense was in the hands of someone he knew and trusted. [42]

On defense, Dungy used a stifling "Cover 2"-style zone defense, which usually was based around a formation of four linemen, three linebackers, and four defensive backs. The "Cover 2" defense Dungy used involved his linemen rushing the passer, the cornerbacks covering the passing flat area, the linebackers covering the middle of the field, and the safeties providing deep coverage on each half of their respective zones. While the Cover 2 defense was not a new concept, Dungy contributed to its greater use by systemizing it into an every-down defense. The personnel and techniques that Dungy used in this defense were very specific, and as a result, his style of defense earned the moniker of the "Tampa 2" around the NFL. [48]

Dungy is mentioned in the book Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, in chapter 3: "The Golden Rule of Habit Change." [49] [50]

Coaching philosophy

Dungy stresses that coaches are essentially teachers. [51]

His protege, Lovie Smith, observed, "We talked about how to do it, being a teacher instead of screaming and yelling, all that stuff... [52] I think as you look to young coaches coming up in the ranks, a lot of us have a picture of how a coach is supposed to be, how he is supposed to act. And I think what Tony Dungy showed me is you don't have to act that way. [53]

Dungy said:

I really wanted to show people you can win all kinds of ways. I always coached the way I've wanted to be coached. I know Lovie has done the same thing. For guys to have success where it maybe goes against the grain, against the culture. I know I probably didn't get a couple of jobs in my career because people could not see my personality or the way I was going to do it. For your faith to be more important than your job, for your family to be more important than that job. We all know that's the way it should be, but we're afraid to say that sometimes. Lovie's not afraid to say it and I'm not afraid to say it. [54]

Dungy also learned from Noll that it takes all 53 of the players on the team to win so that a coach should train the 53rd player on the roster as he would the third player, which has become the spine of Dungy's own coaching philosophy, [55] the Next Man Up theory of calm coaching. [56] Dungy stressed that a team should have a thought process, a philosophy, and the conviction to stick with it, even if personnel change during the games because of injuries. [57] Dungy said:

Chuck's philosophy was to convince every guy on the team that his role was important. If you came in as a free agent and were just a gunner on the punt team or the third safety, you were doing something the team needed to win. It was his way of emphasizing that no one is irreplaceable. You have to coach everybody the same way. If Joe Greene goes out, Steve Furness goes in and we're not going to change anything. Chuck never panicked when someone got hurt or held out. We can still function. That made a big impression on me. [55]

Dungy put his coaching beliefs on his memoir, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life ( ISBN   1-414-31801-4). Cam Cameron, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, highly recommended the book by buying 1,000 books to give away to football coaches at his preseason coaching clinic in July 2007 in South Florida, [58] and said:

It dispelled so many myths about the coaching business – that you had to be a yeller and a screamer to win. You can be your own person, treat people with respect, be very demanding, but demanding in a way that doesn't trample on people. And you don't have to give up your faith to win in the NFL. It confirmed and reaffirmed an awful lot of the beliefs I held about coaching. [58]

Head coaching record

TeamYearRegular SeasonPost Season
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
TB 1996 6100.3754th in NFC Central
TB 1997 1060.6252nd in NFC Central11.500Lost to Green Bay Packers in NFC Divisional Game
TB 1998 880.5003rd in NFC Central
TB 1999 1150.6881st in NFC Central11.500Lost to St. Louis Rams in NFC Championship Game
TB 2000 1060.6252nd in NFC Central01.000Lost to Philadelphia Eagles in NFC Wild Card game
TB 2001 970.5623rd in NFC Central01.000Lost to Philadelphia Eagles in NFC Wild Card Game
TB Total54420.55624.333
IND 2002 1060.6252nd in AFC South01.000Lost to New York Jets in AFC Wild Card Game
IND 2003 1240.7501st in AFC South21.666Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Championship Game
IND 2004 1240.7501st in AFC South11.500Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Divisional Game
IND 2005 1420.8751st in AFC South01.000Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Divisional Game
IND 2006 1240.7501st in AFC South401.000 Super Bowl XLI champions
IND 2007 1330.8131st in AFC South01.000Lost to San Diego Chargers in AFC Divisional Game
IND 2008 1240.7502nd in AFC South01.000Lost to San Diego Chargers in AFC Wild Card Game
IND Total85270.75976.538
Total [59] 139690.668910.474

Coaching tree

Dungy has worked under four head coaches:

Eight of Dungy's assistant coaches became head coaches in the NFL or NCAA:

Seven of Dungy's executives/former players became general managers in the NFL:

Civic involvement

In August 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Dungy a member of the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. [60] The 25-member council represents leaders from government, business, entertainment, athletics and non-profit organizations committed to growing the spirit of service and civic participation. The two-year appointment requires attendance at two in-person meetings per year and quarterly phone conversations with assigned committees. After receiving the call from President Bush, Dungy remarked "It was something that was really hard to believe. Certainly, when you go into football coaching, you’re not expecting to get presidential appointments to anything." [60]

In March 2009, President Barack Obama invited Dungy to join the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. [61] He declined the invitation to join the council because of scheduling conflicts, as he could make only two of 2009's four council meetings, but agreed to be an informal adviser on fatherhood issues. [62]

He had also turned down offers from National Football League Players' Association to become liaison to the NFL. [63]

Personal life

Dungy is an evangelical Christian, and at one point in his coaching career considered leaving football for the prison ministry. [35] Throughout his career, he has remained involved with community service organizations. [64]

Dungy is married to Lauren Dungy. [35] The couple have 11 children: three biological children and eight adopted children. [65] [66] Their oldest son died by suicide at age 18, outside of Tampa in 2005. [67]

Dungy's tenure in Tampa Bay as the head coach of the Buccaneers brought greater attention to his personal accomplishments outside of sports. He has been active in many community-service organizations in the cities in which he has coached. While in Tampa Bay, Dungy worked as a public speaker for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes in Action. [47]

He began a mentoring program for young people called Mentors for Life, and provided Buccaneers' tickets for the participants. He also supported other charitable programs in the area such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, the Prison Crusade Ministry, foster parenting organizations, and Family First. He continues to assist Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club in Indianapolis. He also supports the Black Coaches Association National Convention and Indiana Black Expo. [47]

After Michael Sam, an openly gay player, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the 2014 NFL Draft, Dungy said he would not have drafted Sam, saying, "Not because I don't believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn't want to deal with all of it." The comment drew criticism from some who viewed it as homophobic. [68] [69] [70] Following a backlash, Dungy clarified his remarks, saying that he gave an "honest answer" to a question and that his concern would be with media coverage over Sam if he had been the player's coach. [71] [72] Dungy has also expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. [73]

Dungy is opposed to abortion, [74] and it was announced that he will be a keynote speaker at the 2023 March for Life. [75] [76] [77]

On September 6, 2007, The Indianapolis Star reported that the Davie-Brown Index (DBI), an independent celebrity-rating service for advertisers, placed Dungy in the top 15 of the 900 actors, musicians, TV personalities, and sports celebrities it ranks for overall appeal, putting him on a level with actors such as Tom Hanks and Morgan Freeman. Among sports figures, he ranks second to Hank Aaron. [64]

On February 27, 2008, Indiana Wesleyan University honored Dungy in a ceremony where he was inducted into IWU's Society of World Changers. [78] Dungy also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the university. [79] [80]

Since retirement, Dungy has become an informal mentor to the formerly suspended NFL player Michael Vick, counseling him during his incarceration, serving as his advocate in trying to get a team to have him on the roster (the Philadelphia Eagles later signed Vick to the team). [81] [82]


Dungy's memoir, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life, was released on July 10, 2007 [83] and reached No. 1 on the hardcover nonfiction section of the New York Times Best Seller list on August 5, 2007 [84] and again on September 9, 2007. [85] Tyndale House Publishers said it was the first NFL-related book ever ranked No. 1. [86] When asked why he wrote Quiet Strength, Dungy said,

"It's not something I ever really thought of doing. I've had several people ask me about it for a number of years. Several people asked about it after winning (the Super Bowl). I was hoping, really, not to do it... I think it becomes kind of what happens. You win a Super Bowl, you have a big achievement, and you write a book. And I didn't want to be one of those guys, but a lot of people thought that it was the right time – and it did turn out to be that. I think people were looking for something positive to read, and we had a lot of negative in the sports world. I think it just came out at the right time. Maybe the Lord's timing was good." [87]

Dungy said he had actually gotten "more satisfaction" from the success of Quiet Strength than the Super Bowl win. That is because, he said, "I’ve gotten so many calls and letters from people saying they really got something out of it, something that helped them." [88] On January 10, 2008, Quiet Strength reached 1 million copies in print. [89] Quiet Strength was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 32 weeks, including 27 in the top 10 for hardcover nonfiction. [90]

Dungy also published a 96-page paperback called Quiet Strength: Men's Bible Study on July 18, 2007. Dungy challenged men to answer six questions: What's my game plan? What's my strength? What's success? Where's my security? What's my significance? And, what's my legacy? The book is aimed specifically at men, including those who may not otherwise be interested in spiritual matters. [91]

When asked if Dungy would consider writing a follow-up to Quiet Strength, Dungy said,

"Three months ago, I would've said 'no' for sure. But the impact of this one has been beyond what I could've dreamed and there may be another one in the future. The focus would probably be on how to develop leadership and a coaching strategy for whatever business you're in; coaching for your family, business, or sport based on Christian principles." [92]

Dungy published a 24-page children's picture book called You Can Do It with Little Simon Inspirations, a division of Simon & Schuster on July 8, 2008, reached number one on the children's picture books section of the New York Times best seller list on July 27, 2008 [93] and stayed on the top 10 for 5 weeks. [94] The book tells the story of Dungy's younger brother Linden who struggles, then figures out his life dream and is encouraged by his family to follow that dream as a dentist. [95] [96] Dungy said that his other hopes for You Can Do It were that it would encourage parents to read to their kids and that kids would learn the lesson of pursuing whatever field they were talented in, even if it might not be the popular thing to do. [97]

Dungy has also published Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance, a book revealing lessons on achieving significance that Dungy has learned. The book, released on February 17, 2009, with Tyndale House Publishers, particularly focuses on what it means to be a man of significance in a culture that is offering young men few positive role models. Dungy said,

"Our young men today are falling into a trap... Society is telling them material success is what's important, but if we buy into that idea, we can spend a lifetime chasing that success and never really have the positive impact on people that would make our lives truly significant." [98]

Uncommon reached number two on the hardcover advice section of the New York Times best seller list and stayed on the top 10 for 9 weeks. [99]

On August 3, 2010, Dungy released a new book entitled The Mentor Leader, which debuted at number two [100] and stayed on the top 10 for 5 weeks on the hardcover advice section of the New York Times list. [101]

On January 11, 2011, Dungy and wife Lauren released a new book entitled You Can Be a Friend. Their story teaches children what it means to be a good friend. [102] The book debuted at number seven [103] and stayed on the top 10 for 1 week on the children's picture books section of The New York Times best seller list.

On January 22, 2019, Dungy released a new book entitled The Soul of a Team. The book was co-written with Nathan Whitaker, and their story illustrates what separates the truly great teams from the mediocre ones. "Simply put, a team that has SOUL can and will accomplish far more than one that doesn’t.” Dungy writes. [104]


Dungy was on the cover of NFL Head Coach 09 as its "cover coach". [105]

Awards and honors



See also


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