Tony Dungy is eligible for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame next year, and from all indications he will be a shoo-in.
He is one of only three men to earn a Super Bowl ring as both a player and head coach, winning his first as a defensive back for the 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers and his second as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. The other two individuals to accomplish the feat are Mike Ditka as a player with the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII and as the head coach with the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX and Tom Flores as a player with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV and as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XVII.
Dungy, who was a college quarterback at Minnesota, was an undrafted free agent by the Steelers in 1977 and led the team in interceptions in 1978. He played two seasons with the Steelers, along with former Lanier and Florida State standout J.T. Thomas.
Thomas, who actually sat out the 1978 campaign because of an injury, said there was no question that Dungy would be a head coach as he often made positive suggestions to Steelers defensive coordinator Bud Carson that Carson had not thought of. Carson is considered one of the best defensive coordinators in the history of the NFL. Thomas remembered Dungy as soft spoken and very humble.
Dungy was ranked the 20th greatest NFL head coach in history by ESPN. He is the only black head coach to ever win the Super Bowl.
All I know of Dungy is what I read or see on television, and I have always been impressed with him. Macons Roger Jackson, a five-year NFL veteran with the Denver Broncos, says what you see is what you get with Dungy, whom he has known for more than three decades. Jackson says he first became acquainted with Dungy when he was playing for the Broncos and Dungy was coaching with the Steelers as an assistant, and that relationship has sustained. They actually worked together with the Minnesota Vikings in the early 1990s when Roger was scouting and Dungy was the teams defensive coordinator.
Jackson says Dungy knows the game of football, and he knows people, and he knows how to separate the two. Dungy says God and his Christian faith have guided him throughout his life, and he believes everything happens for a reason.
While Dungy has enjoyed great success in the game of football, which includes taking teams to the NFL postseason for a record 10 straight years, he has had adversity in his life, including losing a son to suicide in 2005.
Dungy is still very much involved with the NFL. He is an analyst on NBCs Football Night in America each Sunday during the season, and he was a mentor for Michael Vick as he made the transition from prison for his involvement in a dogfighting scandal back to the NFL.
Dungy serves as a national spokesman for the fatherhood program All Pro Dad. That is expected to be among his topics when he comes to Macon on Oct. 2 to speak at an event to be held at Mercers Hawkins Arena to benefit Jacksons Motivating Youth Foundation, the 100 Black Men of Macon and the Mercer athletics program. Dungys friendship with Jackson helped lead to his visit to Macon.
There are still tickets remaining for his appearance in Macon, and they can be obtained by calling 301-5470. Tables for 10 are $1,000 with individual tickets priced at $125 each. Bronze and silver table sponsorships are available at $1,500 and $2,500, respectively.
Is Dungy a Hall of Famer? Definitely.
Contact Bobby Pope, who hosts the Saturday Scoreboard at 5 p.m. on Fox Sports 1670, at firstname.lastname@example.org