Tony Dungy led two NFL franchises through some of the most successful seasons in their respective histories, and that in turn has led Dungy to Canton, Ohio. On Saturday evening, Dungy was chosen as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2016, which will be inducted into the Hall next summer.
"Congratulations to Tony Dungy on his very well-deserved selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer. "We are thankful to Tony for all that he did to establish a winning culture during his time with us and his valuable contributions to the Tampa Bay community. We look forward to celebrating his induction later this year."
Dungy got his first NFL head coaching opportunity with the Buccaneers in 1996 and he inherited a team that had just finished its 14th straight losing season. His first squad won five of its last seven games then took that momentum into the next season, as the '97 Buccaneers finished 10-6 and snapped a 15-year playoff drought. By 1999, Dungy had the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game, which they narrowly lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams, and back in the playoffs in 2000 and 2001, as well. Tampa Bay then won its first Super Bowl under new Head Coach Jon Gruden in 2002, but Dungy deserves a significant amount of credit for helping to form that squad's championship core.
Dungy began a seven-year run as the Indianapolis Colts' head coach in 2002, and in 2006 he guided the team to its second Super Bowl title and its first since moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984. Dungy's Colts made the playoffs in each of his seven seasons at the helm, winning five division titles, and compiled an incredible 85-27 record in the regular season.
Overall, Dungy compiled a 139-69 record as a head coach and made the playoffs in 11 of his 13 seasons with the Buccaneers and Colts. He was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2000s. Dungy is also considered an NFL groundbreaker, becoming the first African-American head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory.
Dungy was an NFL assistant head coach by the age of 25 and a coordinator, for the Minnesota Vikings, by the age of 28. His NFL playing career lasted just three years but that was long enough for him to win a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of the 1978. Dungy joins Mike Ditka and Tom Flores as the only people to win a Super Bowl as both a player and a coach.
The Buccaneers' Hall of Fame ranks have swelled considerably in recent years. Warren Sapp was part of the Class of 2013 and linebacker Derrick Brooks was inducted the following year. Sapp and Brooks were both drafted in 1995 but they developed into superstars in the defense Dungy imported when he was hired by Tampa Bay a year later.
Before Sapp, Brooks and Dungy got the call – and demonstrated the lasting respect that NFL observers have for the legendary Buccaneer defense that was at the heart of the team's championship run – the only person in the Hall who played all or most of his career in Tampa was defensive end Lee Roy Selmon. Four other Hall of Famers have brief ties to the Buccaneers: wide receiver Tim Brown (with the Bucs in 2004), guard Randall McDaniel (2000-01), team executive Ron Wolf (1976-78) and quarterback Steve Young (1985-86).
Dungy is just the 23rd coach to be elected to the Hall of Fame. The Class of 2016 was chosen during Saturday's annual meeting of the 46-member Hall of Fame Selection Committee, and it was revealed during the NFL Honors awards show on CBS on Saturday evening. Former Buccaneers safety John Lynch was also one of this year's 15 finalists for the Hall but he was not chosen for induction this year.