Star football coach Tony Dungy used his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this Saturday (August 6) as an opportunity to honor the unsung Black coaching heroes who preceded him.
"Willie Brown, Buck Buchanan, Earnel Durden, Bob Ledbetter, Elijah Pitts, Jimmy Raye, Johnny Roland, Al Tabor, Lionel Taylor and Allan Webb," Dungy said during his induction and enshrinement ceremony in Canton, Ohio. "Now those names might not be familiar to you, but those were the African-American assistant coaches in the NFL in 1977, my first year in the league." Dungy started as a player with the Pittsburgh Steelers. "It was a small group of men, just 10 of them, if you can believe that—African-American assistant coaches in the NFL. Many of them never got the chance to move up the coaching ladder like I did, but they were so important to the progress of this league."
Dungy worked as head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts. He made history with the latter team when he lead them to victory against the Chicago Bears in 2007’s Super Bowl XLI, becoming the first Black head coach to win an NFL championship. He also referred to both Lovie Smith, the Bears’ Black head coach during that Super Bowl, and the league’s first-ever Black head coach Fritz Pollard during his speech.
Dungy joins Pollard as the only two Black coaches inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.