Freestyle football great makes history with ninth world title
AUSTIN, Tex. (A few hours before the final game of his career, former NFL Defensive Back Tony Dungy was asked how tough it was to play in the NFL. He responded by throwing up his hands, laughing and shaking his head.
“Oh, man, man, oh, man, man,” he said.
Dungy’s life has been a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows over the past 15 years, but his love for the game of football was there through it all. And on the day when he reached the conclusion of a career that included the NFL, seven NCAA championships and one Super Bowl ring with the San Francisco 49ers, he took the stage to share one more high with the game he loves:
His first NFL highlight came in 1990, when he scored the only points in a 14-0 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
It wasn’t easy against Mike Holovak and the Raiders in that night’s game, with the Houston Oilers on the verge of a 17-0 lead in the second quarter before Dungy struck.
“Some of it is hard for a quarterback, but I had a couple of great weeks and a few great games against some great players,” he said. “And I got my chance to get a few more, and I did.”
The first was a season-opening road victory over Tennessee, then the following week against the Oilers in another close game in Houston. It was the first of five straight road wins and the first of seven straight road wins in 12 NFL seasons.
That’s when Dungy’s story really started to take off. He won the AFC West in 1994 and the first of the 11 straight seasons from 1997 through 2000, the first NFL year with an 11-game winning streak, and then the first of eight NFL seasons with at least 10 wins.
Dungy became an instant cult hero in San Francisco, known for his “toughness, grit and leadership.” He also became a celebrity himself, thanks to his work with the NFL-TV “Sunday NFL Countdown” program and his appearances on the “Today