Tony Dungy pays homage to African-American coaches who paved the way

Tony Dungy honors Denny Green in speech (3:11)

Tony Dungy pays his respect to the late Denny Green for teaching him the responsibilities of being a head coach in the NFL. (3:11)

In his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech, Tony Dungy, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts head coach and the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl, paid homage to 10 special men who paved the journey for his coaching career and his life's work:

"Willie Brown, Buck Buchanan, Earnel Durden, Bob Ledbetter, Elijah Pitts, Jimmy Raye, Johnny Roland, Al Tabor, Lionel Taylor and Allan Webb," Dungy told the crowd.

"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 said. "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.

"Those men were like my dad. They didn’t complain about the lack of opportunities -- they found ways to make the situation better. They were role models and mentors for me and my generation of young African-American coaches, like Ray Rhodes, Terry Robiskie and Herm Edwards.

"We were in the '80s, trying to decide if we could make a career in coaching or not. Without those 10 coaches laying the groundwork, the league would not have the 200-plus minority assistant coaches it has today. And we would not have had Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy coaching against each other in Super Bowl XLI.

"So tonight as I join Fritz Pollard as the second African-American coach in the Hall of Fame, I feel like I'm representing those 10 men and all the African-American coaches who came before me and paved the way. And I thank them very, very much."

A recurring theme throughout the speech was overcoming disappointments. He noted that he went undrafted in 1977, which devastated him. He also talked about when he was traded to the 49ers and when he was let go by the Buccaneers following a playoff loss right after the 2001 season.

The rest of Dungy's speech was devoted to thanking people who helped him along the way, including Chuck Noll for giving him his start in coaching, the Glazer family and Rich McKay for giving him his first head coaching job with the Buccaneers and Jim Irsay and Bill Polian for giving him the opportunity to lead the Colts.

He thanked the late Dennis Green, who died last month at 67. "He went out of his way to teach me the responsibilities of being a head coach," Dungy said of Green, noting that he helped him prepare for a head coaching job and also showed him that you can win while being a loving husband and father.

Dungy added, "I thanked him many, many, many times over the years, but I really wish I could thank him one more time tonight for everything he did to help me take that final step."

Another special moment during the speech was when he addressed his former players.

"If you played for me, I'd love for you to stand up so I can recognize you.

"As you see several of them are in the Hall of Fame already, others are certainly gonna follow them, and there's no doubt that these guys are responsible for me being up here today. I thank you guys and I love every one of you. Thank you."

Former players in attendance included Pro Football Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, newly inducted Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning.

He also thanked his assistants, calling them the "biggest reason I'm here tonight."