Tony Dungy Biography

Athlete, Football Player(1955–)
Tony Dungy became the first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl when the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007.

Synopsis

Tony Dungy was born on October 6, 1955, in Jackson, Michigan. After playing for the University of Minnesota, Dungy played three seasons in the National Football League, for the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers. Beginning his coaching career in 1980, Dungy went on to serve as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and later the Indianapolis Colts. He guided the Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007.

Early Years

Anthony Kevin Dungy was born October 6, 1955, in Jackson, Michigan. The son of educators—his father, Wilbur, was a science professor at Jackson Community College; his mother, Cleomae, taught high school Shakespeare—Dungy and his three siblings were brought up in home where a getting a good education was considered important.

Dungy was both a stellar student and a standout athlete. At 14, he was elected student body president of Jackson's Parkside High School, where he also starred on the basketball, football and track teams.

In 1973, Dungy enrolled at the University of Minnesota on a full football scholarship and took the helm as the team's starting quarterback. Over his four-year career with the Gophers, Dungy put up an array of impressive numbers, finishing as the program's career leader in pass attempts, completions, touchdown passing and passing yards. In addition, Dungy, the student, was a two-time Academic All–Big Ten selection and also received the Big Ten Medal of Honor—the conference's most notable distinction—in 1977.

NFL Playing Career

Despite his college career, no NFL team believed that Tony Dungy's arm would translate well in the pros. After failing to get selected in the 1977 NFL draft, Dungy tried out for and made the Pittsburgh Steelers as a converted safety.

Playing for legendary Steelers coach Chuck Noll, Dungy adapted well to the new position, even leading the team in interceptions during the franchise's Super Bowl–winning 1978 season.

The following year, the Steelers traded Dungy to the San Francisco 49ers. Dungy played one season with his new club before getting traded again, to the New York Giants. Dungy made it to preseason with the club, but was cut before the regular season began. Shortly afterward, the three-year veteran announced his retirement.

Coaching Career

Following a stint as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota, Dungy landed a job with the Steelers, making him, at 25, the youngest assistant coach in NFL history. In 1984 Pittsburgh made him the league's youngest defensive coordinator.

Dungy's time with the Steelers ended after the 1988 season. But the young coach wasn't out of work for long. He hooked on with Kansas City as the club's secondary coach, and then in 1991 signed on with the Minnesota Vikings as the franchise's new defensive coordinator.

Considered one of the brightest young minds in the NFL, Dungy landed his first head coaching opportunity in 1996, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tapped him to lead the club. For a franchise that had long been the league's doormat, Dungy, with his calm demeanor and ability to connect with players, was a breath of fresh air, bringing both respectability and victories to a team sorely lacking in both areas.

Yet, despite making the Bucs a regular playoff contender, Dungy was fired after the 2001 season. Again, he wasn't out of work long. In January 2002, the Indianapolis Colts hired Dungy to be its next head coach.

During his remarkable seven-year run with the Colts and its star quarterback, Peyton Manning, Dungy turned the franchise into a perennial Super Bowl contender. The Vince Lombardi trophy finally came Dungy's way on February 4, 2007, when the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI, 29-17, in Miami.

The victory made Dungy the first African American to coach a Super Bowl–winning club. It also made him just the third person in NFL history to win a title as a player and as a head coach.

Following the 2008 season, and after 31 seasons patrolling an NFL sideline, Dungy retired from coaching.

Personal Life

Dungy and his longtime wife, Lauren, are the parents of seven children. In December 2005, tragedy struck the Dungy family when one of their oldest sons, James, was found dead at his Tampa area apartment. The death was later ruled a suicide.

Since stepping down as head coach of the Colts, Dungy has worked as an analyst for NBC's "Football Night in America." In addition, Dungy, a committed Christian, has remained active in a number of charitable causes, including Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Prison Crusade Ministry.

In 2011, Dungy and his wife authored a children's book, You Can Be a Friend, which teaches children the importance of being a good friend.

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