considering the question of Tony
Dungy's worthiness of making the NFL
Hall of Fame, there are two relevant
questions: How does Coach Dungy
rank among his peers and how does
Coach Dungy rank against those
coaches already enshrined in
Canton. It is our opinion that Tony
Dungy deserves enshrinement based on
the following merits:
1. His excellent coaching
record - At a remarkable 139-69,
Tony's winning % sits at a lofty
.668. This is 9th best all time (100 games). He
sits behind names like Madden,
Lombardi (as in trophy), Shula and
Halas. He did this as a head coach
of two of the typically worst
franchises in the NFL. In fact, the
combined record of Tampa and
Indianapolis franchises without Tony
is 265 and 314 for a .458 mark. Tony
has led the Colts to 7 playoff
appearances and 7 seasons of 10 wins
or more. Under all other coaches in
Indianapolis, the Colts have a total
of 5 playoff appearances and 2
seasons of 10 wins or more. He has
made the playoffs in 11 of the 13
years he coached. He has won 6
division championships and taken his
team to 3 conference title games. He
also won a Super Bowl.
2. His innovations to the
Cover 2 defense - More than just
posting a great record, Tony also
proved to be an innovator, helping
to tweak the classic cover two to
fit his personnel in Tampa. The end
result was the much copied Tampa 2
in which the MLB drops deeper over
the middle and the front four
provide all the pressure, while
quick, sure tackling LBs hold the
gaps. Tony wasn't just a manager of
players, but an innovative game
planner who left his mark on the way
football is played.
3. A successful coaching
tree - Tony has produced a very
solid run of coaches. This speaks to
his wider impact on the NFL. The
following men are all Dungy
protégées: Herm Edwards, Lovie
Smith, Rod Marinelli, Jim Caldwell and Mike
4. Social implications -
This is only fourth on the list.
Tony has earned the Hall on the
strength of his coaching resume.
While the plaques of several men in
Cooperstown mention being
instrumental in Jackie Robinson's
entrance to MLB, Jackie's plaque
says nothing about him being the
first black player. He got in on his
own merit as a player. So should
Tony as a coach. That being said, if
anyone thinks his resume still needs
a boost, they should remember that
Tony is the first African-American
coach to win a Super Bowl; his
plight and struggles to get hired in
the mid-90s called attention to the
struggles of African American
coaches to receive a fair look; his
coaching tree which has always had
many black coaches in it, struggled
to get started because of exactly
that fact. Tony's overall win
totals are suppressed due to the
difficulty he had in attaining a
head coaching position early in his
career. While other coaches were
hired as young assistants, for
racial reasons, Tony was made to
5. His rank among his peers -
At this stage we arrive at the first
of the critical questions for
enshrinement. In assessing this
question, we compiled a list of
Dungy's contemporaries who are not
currently in the Hall of Fame.
CoY=Coach of the
Year awards (either NFL or
Conference. Totaled per season in
which the award was given)
preceding chart we make the
Regular season observations:
- Dungy has climbed this list strictly on regular season wins. In part, that is due to the racial issues we discussed earlier. In winning percentage, however, Dungy is at the top.
- Dungy and George Siefert have had very similar careers in many respects. The main difference would be that Siefert inherited one of the all time great NFL teams in the 49ers of the late 80s. His first Super Bowl was the second of the back to back wins the 49ers had. He was largely taking Bill Walsh's team over. Dungy on the other hand, took over two franchises with a history of losing. Neither Tampa nor Indianapolis had made the playoffs the year before Dungy took over.
- Bill Belichick, largely considered a lock for the Hall of Fame and rightly so, has a regular season record that is depressed in large part to an unsuccessful stint in Cleveland. He was given a second chance, and made good on it. One wonders if Dungy would have gotten a second chance if he had failed as badly the first time out. This is not a knock on Belichick at all. He deserved another go, and made good on it. It is merely a statement on the racial climate during Dungy's early years as a coach.
- This list clearly places Dungy at the head of the class among his relative peers. He won the highest percentage of games and did so with historically bad franchises.
Post season observations:
- Belichick's record is ridiculously good.
- Dungy's nine post season wins is middle of the pack. His winning percentage is toward the bottom of the group.
- Shockingly, there are only five coaches on this list with more Super Bowl wins than Dungy (one). Belichick, Siefert, Johnson, Shanahan, and Parcels. Winning a second Super Bowl is extremely difficult.
Overall assessment of Dungy's rank among his peers:
clearly at home among this list of
the best coaches of his generation,
and is one of the stars of it. His
record lags behind Belichick's 3
Super Bowl wins and is similar to Parcels' track
record at multiple franchises (took
4 different teams to the playoffs).
His record is essentially identical
to Siefert's, although earned under
very different circumstances. His
numbers are also much better to than
Holmgren's, Cowhers, and Andy
Reid's. Holmgren and Cowher did
bring multiple teams to the Super
Bowl. Dungy's incredible winning percentage helps
to separate him from his peers,
whose coaching numbers are similar,
though they lack the significant
contributions that Dungy made in
other areas (innovation and race).
His rank among current Hall of Fame
coaches - This now leads us to
the second of the two major
questions-Where would Tony Dungy
stand up against other modern (read:
Super Bowl era) coaches?
21 coaches currently in the Hall of
Fame, 12 roughly fall during at
least part of the Super Bowl Era.
Of those 12, the following are clearly a step above the rest:
(2-3 in SB), Landry (2-3), Walsh
(3-0), Noll (4-0), Lombardi (2-0,
plus 3 NFL titles), Gibbs (3-1)
3 trips to the Super Bowl just to
make that list (excusing Lombardi
who they named the trophy after).
That leaves the following coaches left to compare to Tony Dungy:
Hank Stram, Weeb Eubanks, Bud Grant, John Madden, Marv Levy, George Allen
The following chart serves to
compare these coaches to Dungy.
- Dungy is in the upper tier of the coaches in terms of career wins. In terms of winning percentage, he clearly belongs.
- Most of the men on this list had other contributions to football. Weeb Ewbank won multiple NFL championships and was head coach of one of the most important upsets in NFL history (Super Bowl III). John Madden had an amazing win percentage and also made a huge impact as an announcer and video game personality. Hank Stram was a legendary AFL coach and instrumental in the early days of the league.
- Grant and Levy are on the list by virtue of taking their teams to 4 Super Bowls. This enormity of this accomplishment overshadows the fact that they lost all those games.
- Dungy's playoff record is right at home on this list.
Overall assessment of Dungy's place among the Hall of Fame Coaches:
clearly belongs. If not for
institutional racism, he might
already be higher on the all time
win list. The additional
accomplishments of innovation, trail
blazing, and trend setting in
coaching style help to differentiate
him from his peers and would make
him a worthy addition to the Hall of
Fame where he would be placed
alongside other men who impacted and
It seems clear that Coach Dungy has
established himself among the
greats. If he never returns to football, his place among the immortals of the game is already assured.