With the Olympics taking center stage, it was easy to forget that this weekend marks the start of the 87th season of the National Football League.
While the sport of football has become akin to professional boxing, with players getting punchdrunk with every blow they take to the head, I still believe that football will eventually go the way of boxing. Even though the sport of boxing is enjoying a televised renaissance right now, it will never be what it once was back when I was a child, with great warriors like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard giving pieces of their bodies and souls to a sport that didn’t respect the sacrifices made.
That shouldn’t undermine locally how Tony Dungy and General Manager Rich McKay saved the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise in the late 1990s and early 2000’s. They brought class back to a franchise that for nearly two decades didn’t have any. Coach Dungy gave the Buccaneers everything but the Super Bowl ring they would get the year after he was fired from Jon Gruden in the 2002-2003 season.
Dungy would go on to find a title with the Indianapolis Colts, led by Peyton Manning, who won the 41st Super Bowl in Miami against the Chicago Bears. I don’t know if Tony will ever coach again on any level, but the Tampa Bay area, if not all of football as a whole, should thank him for his contributions and respect the sacrifices he made.
He will always be a class human being in my book, and deserves his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.