Tony Dungy excelled with 'outside of the box' approach, selected to Hall of Fame

INDIANAPOLIS -- Yelling, swearing and being overbearing were things Tony Dungy avoided during his 13-year head coaching career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts. He believed there were better and more useful ways to get his message across to the players.

Rather than scream, Dungy taught.

Rather than curse, Dungy talked in a calming voice.

Rather than be overbearing, Dungy treated his players with respect.

Dungy's approach as a coach paid off Satuday when he was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"I think it was an approach that was outside of the box," former Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson said. "It was different because of how he was able to relate to players. He understood how things were done in the past and he evolved coaching and took a different approach to doing it. Guys naturally respected him because of the way he conducted himself. You wanted to go out there and play for him. You felt like you didn't want to let him down."

Dungy first learned about being mild-mannered and respectful from his parents. He then realized that philosophy carried over to his job when he played safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1977.

"I would make a mistake on the field and I'd come off and [Steelers coach Chuck Noll] would ask what I was looking at, where were my eyes, what was my thought process," Dungy said. "That's what helped me. It wasn't somebody screaming at me. I knew that's the way I wanted to be coached and playing for Coach Knoll and working for him. I could see where that way would be effective."

Dungy got his first opportunity to carry out that philosophy in 1996 with the Buccaneers. Most players are accustomed to coaches who swear and yell a lot. Dungy told his players from the start that things wouldn't be that way in Tampa.

"I said, ‘This is the way I'm going to coach and if you need to be yelled and screamed at, I can hire another coach to be the screaming coach. Other than that, I'm just going to tell you what we need to do,' " Dungy said. "Once guys got used to that, I think they enjoyed it and it became no big deal."

Dungy didn't have any problems winning games that way. He led the Buccaneers and Colts to the playoffs in 11 of his 13 seasons coaching the two teams. The Colts won five division titles, reached the AFC Championship Game twice and won Super Bowl XLI.

"I have never seen the type of leadership, the type of head-coaching abilities that Tony brings," Colts owner Jim Irsay said. "Obviously being the first African-American [coach] to win a Super Bowl, that speaks for itself. What he means to the game ... there's a reverence around him."