TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It has taken decades to build the Tampa Bay Buccaneers empire – and Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy played a major role.
In 1996, Tony Dungy was hired as the head coach of the Bucs. He was the first Black head coach the team ever had.
“At that time, there were no African-American head coaches. So it wasn’t like, yeah I can do that,” Dungy said.
However, he did. He turned the program around in the late 90s, taking the team to several playoffs. Despite community opinion, Dungy was fired after six seasons.
“It was tough,” Dungy said. “Was here six years. Our family was here, we loved it. To all of sudden… say we are going in a different direction, we don’t really need you. We had to think about what we were going to do.”
Many across the Tampa Bay area were devastated to see Dungy leave, but another opportunity came knocking at the door. Dungy was then hired as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He made history there in 2007 as the first Black NFL coach to win a super bowl.
It was a full circle moment for Dungy. His parents were born during segregation and he is just one generation removed from that, so this accomplishment meant more than he could imagine.
“When you think about it – that’s what brought tears to my eyes after we won the Super Bowl,” Dungy said. “My dad’s first teaching job was in Arlington, Virginia, and he can’t ride on the bus, he can’t go to certain places, he can’t teach at certain schools. One generation later we win the Super Bowl and I’m invited by the president to bring our team to the White House. I’m sitting in the first seat, on the first bus, it made me laugh almost. This is what my dad was talking about. Just work, do what you were supposed to do and you’ll make a difference.”
Dungy has made a difference and continues to make a difference in the lives of so many people. You can hear more about his impact, time with the Bucs, time with the Colts, his foundation, family and the legacy he continues to build on Sunday at 1 p.m. during WFLA’s Road to the Big Game pregame show.