“I Was Fired From Here But I Was Also Hired Here”

August 15th, 2018

Remembers the good ol’ days.

Standing on the stage at the lectern with a giant Buccaneers logo in the background at the auditorium of One Buc Palace, there stood a humble Tony Dungy speaking softly and at one moment, Joe thought he was about to let his emotions get the best of him.

The former Bucs coach was speaking at a press conference, one of the hundreds he has conducted, but this one was rare. It was a press conference for his induction into the Bucs’ Ring of Honor.

Watching that scene, it is gut-wrenching to see how something Dungy helped build through sweat and maybe tears and countless hours of work has plunged into Cleveland South.

That’s why yesterday’s scene at One Buc Palace was refreshing. For a short time yesterday afternoon, the inability to win home games, a decade-long playoff drought, running off a Hall of Fame corner, the MRSA and an Uber driver were forgotten.

It was and is hard to believe that for all the chaos that this franchise has endured in the post-Chucky era, that it was a guy who plays the part of a high school guidance counselor more than an NFL coach who brought order to a futile franchise.

And winning.

There stood Tony Dungy as he reflected on his Bucs days.

Dungy, of course, remembered the day he was hired and the man who made that possible, the late Malcolm Glazer. Dungy also remember the day shortly thereafter he thought his career was coming to an aborted end.

“It starts really with the relationship you have with the people you work with and the people you work for and that started with Mr. Glazer and went all the way down through,” Dungy said. But even Dungy thought that relationship was short-lived when he was ordered to a meeting with the Glazer family after a horrible start to his first season with the Bucs.

“We were 0-5 [and Malcolm Glazer] and Joel wanted to take me out to lunch, they wanted to see me,” Dungy remembered. “I wasn’t expecting anything but the worst.”

Instead of a pink slip, Dungy said, the Glazers offered support. They told him they saw progress and they were firmly behind him.

“That was one of the greatest moments of my time here, knowing we were in it together,” Dungy said.

Eventually, Dungy’s days came to an end. Dungy’s side of the football, the defensive side, was a team for the ages. The other side of the ball, offense, was nearly the polar opposite and that did him in with the Bucs after three straight playoff games without scoring a touchdown.

Despite being shown the door after the 2001 season, Dungy harbored no ill will towards the Glazer family. True to the class man he is, he looks back fondly of his Bucs days.

“I was fired from here but I was also hired here,” Dungy said. “I was hired when I had never been a head coach and the other 31 — no one else gave me a chance.

“Mr. Glazer, Bryan and Joel, and Rich McKay decided I was their man. I appreciated that and I will always appreciate that.”

Dungy was asked about what is perceived to be the one play that kept him from guiding the Bucs to a Super Bowl, the Hurt Emanuel no-catch. Dungy shook his head, not buying that prevented him from his first Super Bowl appearance as a coach.

“It just was kind of a shame our offensive tackles [Paul Gruber and Jason Odom] couldn’t play in those playoffs,” Dungy said. “We had those injuries — which everyone gets — but I will go to my grave thinking had Paul and Jason not gotten hurt, we would have been in the Super Bowl.”

Dungy, when pondering the Bucs’ Ring of Honor, does not think of himself or Chucky or his players that are enshrined on the walls of the Den of Depression. Instead, he said he envisions Mr. Buccaneer, the original Ring of Honor member, Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon.

“When I think of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor, I think of Lee Roy Selmon,” Dungy said. “That is what Buccaneer football is all about. A special person on the field; a special person off the field. He set the bar very high.”

Dungy almost seemed embarrassed when asked how he wanted to be remembered as a member of the Ring of Honor.

“I hope they remember me as someone who helped shape the course of the franchise and got people excited about Tampa football again,” Dungy said.

Dungy still resides in Tampa and proudly calls the Bay area his home.

“Even though I was born in Jackson, Michigan, my hometown is Tampa.”

32 Responses to ““I Was Fired From Here But I Was Also Hired Here””

  1. Brandon Says:

    Cue the haters. All this man did was change the culture of the losingest franchise in NFL history. No, he didn’t get us over the hump, but his work made it possible.

  2. JC Garcia Says:

    A true top notch man !

  3. BigHogHaynes Says:


  4. '79Defense Says:

    One of my favorite Dungy moments was prior to the ’97 season, the last year in the Big Sombrero and the first with the new uniforms (the good new uniforms, not the current ones.) He was at the pick your seat day in the stadium on a Saturday afternoon and answering fan questions. Someone asked him what jersey color they were going to wear for the first home game.

    He said, almost verbatim, “We’ll probably wear white for the opener and then red for our first home playoff game.” It was fantastic and the crowd went crazy. He had the quiet belief and, regardless of how it ended, he turned things around and brought a fan base back. Man, those days were fun.

  5. AlteredEgo Says:

    I saw everyone of his games in the Ole Sombrero and the Ray Jay with Tony as HC of the Bucs….

  6. AlteredEgo Says:

    The last game in the Ole Sombrero when they beat the Lions and got into the playoffs for the first time…is a special memory savoring the emotion of the fans and the players on the field….Brad Culpepper grabbed one of those large Bucs flag and was waving it around the field with all the enthusiasm of a happy 10 year old boy !

  7. Evolvingbucsfan Says:

    TD had only one losing season his whole head coaching 13 year career, his first year…. let that sink in, now imagine Tampa with a winning season every year either in the play offs or hunting for the play offs. Who wouldn’t want that right now?

  8. ChanEpic Says:

    Love this man. Had the opportunity to attend a prayer meeting with him in Tallahassee a year or two ago and you can feel his good character and positive vibes from anywhere in the room that you’re sharing with him.

  9. Jmarkbuc Says:

    When Trent Dilfer was asked about the difference between Sam Wyche and Tony Dungy, he said something to the effect of ” With Tony you are going to beat the other team by playing better, rather than trying to trick the other team”

    Always appreciated that.. No explanations..No Excuses.

  10. BucUToo Says:

    Love Dungy. I met him at an All Pro Dads get together. Just a great person, and humble. Talking to him was like talking to a friend. Ego – I remember that too. And watching Gruber cry at the end. That was special. Had we never gotten rid of Les Steckel Dungy wouldn’t have been fired. The guy made an offense run by Shawn King with Reidell Anthony as the #1 WR into a decent offense. I have no idea why we let him go.

  11. americasenabler Says:

    Great writing Joe/s.

  12. Jmarkbuc Says:


    I have no idea why we let him go.


    Because petulant Glazer Boys went to Daddy with “we want it now Daddy” No appreciation for this teams history. Tony made the Bucs something to be proud of, and made it great to be a Buc Fan.

    One more year and TD would’ve gotten it done, and we’d be sitting on a dynasty…

    Alas, if’s and buts you know…….

  13. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    He was fired due to the fact he had one of the top 5 defenses of all time for 4-5 years and could not get an offense to get the team over the top to win 1-3 superbowls with the bucs, if he had a team scoring 20/game, dungy would have retired one of the greatest HCs of all time, but he is definitely one of the best defensive minds in NFL history and an all time great person, would make a great president of the US as well

  14. Jmarkbuc Says:

    The truth is that Gruden didn’t upgrade the offense. The 2002 Bucs outscored the 2001 Bucs by 22 points. 14 of those extra points came from D/ST touchdowns.

    2001 Bucs averaged 26.6 yards per drive.
    2002 Bucs averaged 26.7 yards per drive.

    2001 Bucs averaged 1.62 points per drive.
    2002 Bucs averaged 1.62 points per drive.

    2001 Bucs turned it over on 10.5% of drives.
    2002 Bucs turned it over on 10.8% of drives

  15. Schlomie BarmitzvahCircumScissorStein Says:

    His coaching wasn’t competent enough to score a single touchdown against the Rams in the Div Champ. Then the following years, couldn’t get the team he was coaching, to score a single touchdown in consecutive playoff games against the Eagles. Bye Bye. There are many, many, people that were in the game that had good morals. When they couldn’t produce, they were let go. Welcome to the real life losers! Btw, the uniforms are putrid.

  16. Jmarkbuc Says:


    In 2002 Bucs scored 21.6 ppg

    In 2001 Bucs scored 20.3 ppg

  17. Eric Says:

    Great man.

    Great coach.

    Deserved better.

    Our fan base is full of unappreciative mentally challenged goobers.

  18. Eric Says:


    But what about the points per game in the playoffs?

    2001 bucs 9pts vs Eagles

    2002 bucs scored 31 vs San Fran , 27 vs Eagles and 48 vs Oakland. (I know some defensive touchdowns but still way higher than three field goals.)

    In the San Fran game the bucs offense scored more points than in their last three playoff appearances combined.

    Give Gru some credit, that offense came alive at the most important time. In the playoffs.

  19. Season Is Over Says:

    I love these intolerant optimists that think they are better than everyone else. Smug Buc fans. Haha. I guess you see something new every day.

  20. Broy34 Says:

    If things get to the point where Licht is out the door—-if this guy isn’t put in the Tom Coughlin role I will be stunned. Nobody and I mean nobody- can doubt this mans ability to assess talent. He built this defense. Gruden grabbed a few offensive players and took the glory. Coaching is one thing. Dungy assessing talent- only three regular commenting losers will deny he’s a master

  21. Pickgrin Says:

    Great Piece Joe!!!

    Nice little walk down memory lane there.

    Those were special times to be sure.

    Younger Buccaneers fans have no idea what “futility” and “hopelessness” really feels like when it comes to “your” sports team.

    Try being a diehard fan of a team in the mid 90’s that had posted THIRTEEN STRAIGHT losing seasons. Almost all of which were double digit losing seasons.

    Tony Dungy changed ALL of that in ONE SEASON.

    Under Tony Dungy’s guidance this team went from perennial laughing stock for as along as anyone still playing the game could remember – to a WINNING football program for the duration of his 6 year tenure.

    Yes, Dungy had a few personnel advantages stepping in with a monster MLB in Hardy Nickerson and two future first ballot HOFers in Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks along with future HOFer (hopefully) John Lynch already on the roster when he got here. But none of the latter 3 were “stars” yet when Dungy got here and it could easily be contended that TD helped mold and sustain the great careers that Sapp, Brooks and Lynch had – as much as those players accomplishments helped advance Tony’s coaching career.

    The 5-0 start in 1997 and especially the atmosphere of that ’97 playoff game was absolutely ELECTRIC. This entire Tampa Bay area was uplifted by the team’s accomplishments. Winning football was back!! Shutting down the Big Sombrero with a PLAYOFF WIN was a moment in time forever frozen into the ‘best Bucs memories ever’ section of all long time fans brains.

    Thanks for the many great memories Tony.

    Your addition into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor is a welcome one!

  22. Joe Says:

    Thanks Pick!

  23. Joe Says:

    Thanks Enabler!

  24. Bucsfanman Says:

    Yea, kudos Joe and nice post Pickgrin! I was lucky enough to be a fan when Dungy turned it around. Prior, I’d go to games where there would be more than half the stadium in opposing colors, sometimes more. When he arrived and turned it around, there was pride in Buc Nation, nothing like now.

    Coach Dungy has always been a class act.

  25. Eric Says:

    Very well said Pickgrin

    I was at that 97 playoff game holding my breath every time Barry Sanders got the ball.

    Great memories.

  26. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Nice post Pick…finally we find some common ground 😉

  27. Pistol Pete Says:

    He got payback on us with the MNF Colts birthday game.
    Loved him as a human being and defensive mastermind.
    Hated the Mike Shula offense that was based on running 5’9 185 lb Warrick Dunn up the gut time and time again.
    Hate to say it but was happy to see him go and get Chucky after we thought it was going to be Parcells.

  28. Destinjohnny Says:

    I wish he was our coach
    I always thought his players didn’t give the best effort in the nfc championships we lost

  29. jmarkbuc Says:


    I do give Gruden credit for being that last missing spark at the right place at the right time. Hey he was fun to watch/ listen to, for a short while. His act wore thin pretty quick. Not much substance.

    Tony was a better coach. The numbers prove that in 2002 and beyond Gruden didn’t make some earth shattering improvements to the offense. And check Grudens career record vs. Tony’s. Not even close.

    Biggest mistake this franchise has ever made ( and there have been some doozies) was firing TD. I’m sure I’m not alone in that sentiment.

  30. BigMacAttack Says:

    Love Coach Dungy always. Strong faith, leading from the front, never compromising principles. He would be a good figure head adviser for the Bucs now. Very thankful for him and nothing but love.

  31. jmarkbuc Says:

    I’m actually coming down from NC for the MNF game, because of ROH ceremony. First game I’ve been to since I moved away in 06.

    Sure wish we could wear throw back(red) uni’s for that game…would be fitting.

  32. rrsrq Says:

    Everyone talks about the Rams game and calls TD an incompetent offensive coach, if I recall, Shaun King (a rookie) was our QB, he was the 3rd string QB who got forced into playing due to injuries to the first two. Imagine if Fitz gets hurt in the first game, you all have confidence in DK giving the reigns to Ryan Griffin to go all out. At least we knew and Tony knew we had a real running game with Shawn King (WD-40). Thats why he mentioned the two starting offensive tackles being hurt, he knew we could’ve run the ball on the Rams.