TAMPA, Fla. — Tony Dungy is a hall of fame coach, a best-selling author and a Bucs legend. Dungy still lives in the same home he bought in Tampa when he was the head coach of the Buccaneers. 

Heading into Super Bowl LIII, 10News reporter Phil Buck sat down with Dungy to talk the big game, blown calls, Colin Kaepernick and the current state of the Bucs.

Here's Dungy's take on new Bucs head coach Bruce Arians

“Bruce is old school in his philosophy of football and how you play and how you win, but he’s new school enough to relate to the younger players and I think he’s going to bring an accountability that will be great,” Dungy said. “He’s going to teach them how to win, no question about it. He started with Bear Bryant, one of the biggest winners ever, and that’s the philosophy he has: that you’re accountable, that you do things right, and if you do things right and work hard, you win. So, I think he’s going to bring that attitude and approach and it’s going to be good for them.”

“They’ve got a lot of things in place. Offensively, they move the ball as well as anybody in the league. They’ve got the weapons that you need now, the offensive line looks like they’re able to protect the quarterback, they’ve got a lot of pieces of the puzzle in the passing game, so they’re going to move the ball well. Defensively, they’re starting to get some guys that can rush the passer, which is what you need in this game, so now it’s a matter of consistency, can we put that out there every single time,” he added. “You go into New Orleans and beat the Saints in New Orleans week one, you’re capable of being an elite team and we saw that. We saw that with beating Philadelphia, playing Pittsburgh back-and-forth, nip and tuck. Now, can you do that sixteen weeks in a row? That’s what coach Arians has to bring.”

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“He’s a talented guy and that’s what coach Arians will teach him and preach to him,” said Dungy. “You can still be explosive, and we can still have all the big plays that we want to get and, you know what? We can still take care of the football and protect it and be a low-turnover team.”

“Bruce is going to get him squared away on the football field,” he said. “He’s very, very fortunate, Jameis is. He’s going to have some people working around him, working with him hand-in-hand, Clyde Christensen, Byron Leftwich, these guys are tremendous and they’re going to pull the most out of him on and off the field.”

“I remember going to Indianapolis, and Peyton Manning had four up-and-down seasons before I got there: 3-and-13, 13-and-3, 10-and-6, 6-and-10. Very explosive and great talent but feel like I’ve got to make all these plays to carry us, to make us win. And really, what we came back to and what it came down to was: we still want to be explosive, we still want to make big plays but we want to protect the ball and it took Peyton a little while to learn that, but pretty soon, by my second year, he’s at 31 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, then he’s 49 touchdowns and nine interceptions and that’s what you’re looking for, that can be done when those great talents realize that taking care of the ball is important.”

Balancing family, faith and football

“We’re having fun. My wife and I are in the community here in Tampa, loving being here in Tampa,” said Dungy. “We have seven kids that are still at different stages of their schooling and education so getting them places and attending their events and things is time-consuming, but we have fun and we feel like we’re part of the Tampa landscape.”

“Being raised as a Christian,” he added. “I go back to my mom and dad doing a great job of preparing me for life and that’s the way I’ve always looked at things and I’m trying to do the same thing for my family and show them that following Christ and honoring the Lord is much more important than what you end up doing and what my profession is. I was a football coach and I’m an analyst and that’s great, but at the end of the day that’s not the important thing about me, it’s how I live and how I’m going to help people in my community and what I’m going to do for the Lord, so that’s what I’ve always been taught and that’s what I really believe.”

What he misses about coaching

“You miss the relationships and trying to get fifty-three players and fifteen coaches and a staff and everybody focused on one goal and going after that goal and doing it with all your heart and coming together. That’s fun,” said Dungy. “And then you miss the stories, I miss hearing about what all the guys are doing and what’s going on with their families and what’s going on with their foundations. And I can stay abreast of it somewhat, but it’s not like you’re in there every day talking to fifty people. Those relationships, you do miss. No question.”

“I don’t miss the schedule. People talk about the stress and, for me, it was never stressful but the fact that you could say ‘OK, July 27th we’re starting training camp, we may not have a day off until February 1st if we go to the Super Bowl. Every day is accounted for and no matter what special thing is going on in the country, I can’t take advantage of it because we’ve got practice, we’ve got a walk-through, we’ve got this going on and you’ve got six months of just every day laid out for you. Now, I have an opportunity to do things and take advantage of everything that goes on here in the city that you couldn’t when you were coaching.”

Time as the Bucs head coach

“I had interviewed for four or five other jobs, felt like I was close,” said Dungy. “1996, Rich McKay calls me and says ‘I’d like to interview you for the Bucs job’, well I’m reading that Jimmy Johnson is the first choice and if he doesn’t take it Steve Spurrier is the next choice, I’m not too confident anyway. But I go in, I’m going to meet Rich at the Marriott hotel in Santa Clara, I get in my rental car and drive there, pull out, and just as I’m pulling out the little screw out of my glasses falls. 

So now I’m down looking for it, can’t find it anywhere, and my glasses, I’ve got one bar. I can’t see without them at that point. So I said, ‘I can go in here and fake it but if he asks me to draw something or read something I’m going to be in trouble, or I can go in and at least be able to see him but look like a fool’. So, I chose that option. I go in, it’s all tipped sideways and he’s looking at me for like 25 minutes and then he finally says, ‘you can just take those off, we’ll just talk’. So, after that’s all over, I called my wife and I said, ‘I’ve felt good about a lot of interviews, this one, we have no chance of getting this job. I embarrassed myself totally to the General Manager’. But that just shows you how the Lord works, I guess, because it was the one that came through.”

“I remember the first meeting in 1996, with the Buccaneers team and standing in front of them and saying ‘I’m your new coach, I’m here because our owners want to win Super Bowls and that’s what we’re charged to do, that’s what we’re going to go after, but if that’s all we do, it won’t be very meaningful. You guys have to become part of this community, build this community, make it a better place to live, raise your families here, that’s what this is all about’. And then, to see people like Derrick Brooks who have done that and Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott and Jerry Wunsch and Jason Odom and guy after guy who have stayed here, become part of the fabric of what we do and doing some things very public and noticeable, like Derrick’s charter school, but others who have done the same thing and it’s been unnoticed but you know they’re making a difference, that’s pretty special.”

The National Anthem protests

“You have to build to fix the problems and part of fixing the problems is bringing them to light and I think that’s what a lot of the players were trying to do with the national anthem protests,” said Dungy. “But we’ve got a country now where I think people are ready to listen and somewhere we’ve got to give people a platform and that, to me, is the most important thing. Now, when you have that platform, what are we going to do? It’s not just stating the problems, stating the issues, but how are we going to correct this? What can we do to move forward? And, I think whether it’s Gladys Knight, whether it’s Colin Kaepernick, whoever – that’s got to be the question: how do we move forward and fix some of these things?”

“Colin Kaepernick is very much able to play in the National Football League,” he added. “There aren’t enough quarterbacks to go around, he should be playing somewhere. There are a lot of teams that are afraid of the blowback and the political correctness but that happens. That’s part of taking a stand, which he did.”

Referee problems and instant replay

“We always tend to overreact to problems,” said Dungy. “You have a no-call at the end [of the NFC Championship] that’s egregious, but it’s happened before and we’ll get over it and we’ll get through it. Officiating is still a human element, you can’t be perfect. Unfortunately, a noticeable play like that brings about a lot of reactions, I hope we don’t overreact and over-officiate. We had a call here in 1999 with Bert Emanuel and it was the beginning of replay and, had there been no replay they would have gotten the call right, but they got it wrong, the Rams went to the Super Bowl, we had to go back and try to get there. So, it happens and that’s part of sports: learning to deal with adversity.”

“The New Orleans Saints went to a Super Bowl nine years ago because a roughing the passer was missed on Brett Favre of the Vikings,” he added. “Those Saints fans aren’t saying ‘oh, we shouldn’t have gone to the Super Bowl’. It happens and it’s sad and you talk about it, but you go on and you get better and I think we have improved the officiating. I, for one, would like to see full-time officials, I think they need to be in the office every day to get more consistency, but I don’t think we need more electronic officiating.”

“I, personally, don’t like replay at all,” said Dungy. “My thought is: make the officiating the best we can make it and live with the human error.”

Looking back at coaching Super Bowl XLI

“You try to make every game the same and, for the most part, they are,” he said. “Even, you go up to the championship games, they’re the same. You’ve got the same routine, you’re playing at the same time, but the Super Bowl you’ve got two weeks off, you’ve got the buildup, you’re practicing in a different place, you’ve got a different practice schedule. When we went in 2006, we had the late practice schedule and you have to get adjusted to that. You have press conferences every day as opposed to maybe the star players doing one or two or getting interviewed in the locker room. You’ve got to figure out, as a coach, ways to let your players enjoy the moment and enjoy the week but keep the focus, and how do you balance that? I remember our guys, we were in Miami, and Edgerrin James, I told Edgerrin, who was from the U, ‘you got the guys on Tuesday, I don’t want to know where you’re going, there’s no curfew, do whatever you want, then Wednesday morning we start to get down to business. So that was kind of our way that we balanced it, I still don’t know where they went Tuesday night, but they were out a long time.”

“Opening kickoff,” he continued. “Devin Hester is their big threat and we worked for two weeks: kick the ball away from him, squib it, put it in the corners, don’t let him touch the ball. And then, the night before, our chaplain at the chapel service talks about David and Goliath and David was the only person who wasn’t afraid of Goliath and he went right at him, so I come in and say, ‘hey, we’ve got the wrong approach with Devin Hester, we’ve got to go right at him, I hope we lose the toss, we’re going to kick off right to him, we’re going to pound him and show him we mean business, we can’t play scared. Fourteen seconds later, he’s in the other endzone and I’m thinking, ‘what was I really thinking?’ But that was one of the mistakes of Super Bowl Sunday, for me.”

Super Bowl LIII

“Whenever the Patriots play, and you play against them, you just don’t know what to expect and you’ve got to weather that first quarter,” said Dungy. “It could be five wide receivers, no-huddle, quick pace or it could be a 3-4 defense and blitzing, it could be drop eight guys, the Rams don’t know what they’re going to get so they’ve got to sort through that and then respond. The Chiefs got shut out in the first half of the championship game but then they got 31 points in the second half because Andy Reid had a good response to what he saw. That’s what Sean McVay’s challenge is going to be: figure out what they’re doing and then respond quickly and we’ll see how that plays out.”

“Bill Belichick has a unique situation in that he’s got a lot of smart players, they come up with different game plans every week. So, what you look at and saw the last four weeks, you might not see in this game,” he added. “So you’ve got to do a lot of reacting. Sean McVay is, ‘hey, here’s our system and you’ve got to deal with us’, so it’ll be interesting to see. I think it’ll be a chess match and I think you’re going to see New England get out to a little bit of a lead and whether the Rams can fight their way back, that’s going to be, I think, how the game’s going to play out.”

“It’s hard to pick against New England now, with Tom Brady,” said Dungy. “You feel like it’s going to come down to that, in the end, not many people are going to bet against Tom Brady.”

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