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Is Tony Dungy Hall of Fame Worthy?

Is Canton ready for Tony Dungy?


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
– 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
– 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. 


      Coach   Wins  
    Winning %
    Playoff wins
    Playoff losses
    Playoff Winning %
    Super Bowl record
    Schottenheimer 200 126 0.613 5 13 0.278 0 wins 3
    Reeves 190 165 0.535 11 9 0.550 0 wins 4 losses  
    Parcells 172 130 0.570 11 8 0.579 2 wins 1 loss 3
    Cower 161 99 0.619 12 9 0.571 1 win-1 loss 2
    Holmgren 161 111 0.592 13 11 0.542 1 win 2 losses  
    Shanahan 146 98 0.598 8 5 0.615 2 wins 0 losses  
    Dungy 139 69 0.668 9 10 0.450 1 win 0 losses
    Belichick  138 86 0.616 15 4 0.789 3 wins 1 loss 1
    Jeff Fisher 128 102 0.557 5 6 0.455 0 wins 1 loss
    Mike Ditka 121 95 0.560 6 6 0.500 01 win 0 loss  
    Vermiel 120 109 0.524 6 5 0.545 1 win 1 loss 4
    Tom Coughlin  115 93 0.553 8 7 0.533 1 win 0 losses
    George Siefert 114 62 0.648 10 5 0.667 2 wins 0 losses  
    Andy Reid 97 62 0.610 10 6 0.625 0 wins 1 loss
    Jon Gruden  95 81 0.540 5 5 0.500 1 win 0 losses
    Brian Billick 80 64 0.556 5 3 0.625 1 win 0 losses
    Johnson 80 64 0.556 9 4 0.692 2 wins 0 losses  


CoY=Coach of the
Year awards (either NFL or
Conference.  Totaled per season in
which the award was given) 

From the
preceding chart we make the
following observations:

Regular season observations:

  1. 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. 

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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


Post season observations:

  1. Belichick’s record is ridiculous

  2. Dungy’s nine post season wins is
    middle of the pack.  His winning
    percentage is toward the bottom
    of the group.

  3. 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.


assessment of Dungy’s rank among his

Dungy is
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
– 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?

Of the
21 coaches currently in the Hall of
Fame, 12 roughly fall during at
least part of the Super Bowl Era. 
They are:

Don Shula

Tom Landry

Hank Stram

Weeb Eubanks

Bill Walsh

Bud Grant

Chuck Noll

John Madden

Vince Lombardi

Marv Levy

Joe Gibbs


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)

It takes
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.

      Coach   Wins  
    Winning %
    Playoff wins
    Playoff losses
    Playoff Winning %
    Super Bowl record
    Bud Grant 158 96 0.622 10 12 0.455 0 wins 4 losses  
    Marv Levy 143 112 0.561 11 8 0.579 0 wins 4 losses 3
    Dungy 138 69 0.668 9 10 0.450 1 win 0 losses  
    Hank Stram 131 97 0.575 5 3 0.625 1 win 1loss 2
    Weeb Ewbank 130 129 0.502 4 1 0.800 1 win 0 losses  
    George Allen 116 47 0.712 2 7 0.222 0 wins 1 loss 2
    John Madden 103 32 0.763 9 7 0.563 1 win 0 losses 1



  1. Dungy is in the upper tier of the coaches in terms of career wins.  In terms
    of winning percentage, he
    clearly belongs. 

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.

  4. Dungy’s playoff record is right
    at home on this list. 


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
changed football.

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.