Class of the Hall
"Our young men today are falling into a trap... Society is telling them material success is what's important, but if we buy into that idea, we can spend a lifetime chasing that success and never really have the positive impact on people that would make our lives truly significant." - Coach Tony Dungy
On Saturday, the NFL season really got under way with the inductions of the Hall of Fame class of 2016. Sunday night is the first game, the Hall of Fame Game, endings months without live action.
The Hall of Fame inductions are always fun, but usually moreso if someone from your team gets in. That wasn't the case this year. While I've always respected Brett Farve and Kevin Greene, two of this year's inductees, there was one person who got into the Hall of Fame that I was most excited about, Tony Dungy.
Dungy began his career as a player, serving as a defensive back. Later, he transitioned into coaching. He started his coaching career under Chuck Knoll and the Steelers, later moving around and becoming the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings under Dennis Green. That led to his first head coaching job, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dungy took a team that had long been a laughing stock and made them a contender. But he couldn't quite get over that last hurdle. He couldn't get to the Super Bowl. A year after he was let go in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl under Coach Jon Gruden. Gruden may have been the man on the sidelines, but everyone knew it was a roster that, for the most part, was built by Dungy.
Dungy moved on to Indianapolis, where he was paired with the great Peyton Manning. Together, they enjoyed unprecedented success during the regular season and, finally, he won a Super Bowl title as a head coach.
As a Broncos fan, especially during that era of Dungy-Manning, I loathed the Colts. It seemed they always knocked us out of the playoffs, and I couldn't stand to see them succeed. In fact, the year they won the Super Bowl I was rooting for the Chicago Bears.
Despite that, I always respected Dungy. And I was happy for him that he won the big game.
Soon after that, he retired from coaching. He's now one of the most eloquent and insightful analysts of the game, working in studio for NBC and Sunday Night Football. I love hearing him talk about the game, and the class with which he carriers himself.
Because that's what I like best about Dungy, he's a man of faith and unafraid to stand up for what he believes in. He's an excellent role model, and someone who is excellent at his craft while realizing there is more to life than being good at your job.
I always respected Dungy for his gifts on the field, but I respect him even more for the way he lives his life. He's a class act, and worthy of induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.