Tony Dungy finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

by Lee Warren, Newswriter |
NBC Sports analyst Tony Dungy speaks to reporters during the NBC Sports Group Press Conference at Media Center-Press Conference Room B. He is one of 15 finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2016 class. | Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS (CHRISTIAN EXAMINER) — Former NFL head coach and current NBC analyst, Tony Dungy, who is also a member of Exciting Central Baptist Church in Tampa, is one of 15 finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2016 class. 

Dungy, a committed longtime Christian, leaves his mark wherever he goes and took to Twitter to respond to the well-wishes he has received.

"Thanks to everyone for congrats on being named a Hall of Fame finalist," he wrote after learning the news. "It is an honor to be included with former players Marv[in Harrison], Edge[rrin James] & [John] Lynch."

The other eleven finalists are Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Terrell Owens, Alan Faneca, Terrell Davis, Morten Andersen, Steve Atwater, Kevin Greene, Joe Jacoby, Orlando Pace and Don Coryell, according to Fox Sports.

This is the third straight year Dungy, 60, has been a finalist. In this 13 years as a head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1996-2001) and Indianapolis Colts (2002-08), his teams went to the playoffs 11 times. He also led the Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI over the Chicago Bears, becoming the first African-American coach to do so.

Before becoming a head coach, he was an NFL assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings. He also played three seasons in the NFL (1977-79) with the Steelers and 49ers, giving him 31 years of experience in the league.

His resume off the field is even more impressive. He's been involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Athletes in Action, Mentors for Life, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Prison Crusade Ministry and All Pro Dad, according to his website. He also works with Basket of Hope, the Black Coaches Association National Convention, Indiana Black Expo, the United Way of Central Indiana and the American Diabetes Association.

Over the years, many have offered accolades for the work he has done on and off the field.

"In today's world where sports figures and movie stars are idolized, Tony Dungy is a true hero because his life is a testimony to the fact that if you 'do your best and let God do the rest,' not only will success follow, but your life will have a positive impact on others," said Ben Carson. "This is the reason I consider Tony a great friend and role model."

"Tony Dungy is a world champion in every way," said Michael W. Smith. "His quiet strength both on and off the field has been an inspiration to millions. His sense of priority is uncommon and uncompromised. His purposeful desire to turn the spotlight off of himself and on to Christ is admirable.

"Even more impressive, however, is the character and dignity he exemplifies when there are no cameras ... when there is no spotlight. This is a man of tremendous faith, and he lives it every day of his life. He has inspired me, and I'm so thankful for his friendship."

Warren Sapp, one of Dungy's former players, once called him the greatest man he ever met.

The 2016 HOF class will be decided on Feb. 6, according to the Associated Press — one day before the Super Bowl. Inductions will occur in August. A maximum of eight inductees are allowed in each class.