The NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be voted on and announced this Saturday, and the Colts could be well-represented. Former head coach Tony Dungy and wide receiver Marvin Harrison are among the 15 modern era finalists for the second straight season, while former general manager Bill Polian is one of the contributor candidates this season. We'll look at each of their respective chances at making the Hall of Fame this year over the next few days, but today we start by looking at Tony Dungy.
Why he will make the Hall of Fame:
For the second straight year, Tony Dungy is a finalist for the Hall of Fame. He coached the Colts for seven years (2002-2008), going 85-27 (.759) and winning five division titles, an AFC Championship, and Super Bowl XLI. The Colts made the playoffs in every single year he coached, and they won 12 or more games in each of his final six years. In his career with both the Colts and the Buccaneers, Dungy went 139-69 (.688 win percentage, which ranks as the 12th best mark all-time). In 13 seasons as a head coach, Dungy's teams missed the playoffs just two times and in just one year did his team finish with a losing record - his first year with the Bucs, which was after taking over one of the worst franchises in sports (still winning six games). He implemented the "Tampa 2" defense and was known as a defensive guru throughout the league even before he became a head coach. Furthermore, he was the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl and was one of the most respected men in football during his time in the league and even still today. Dungy is a member of the Colts Ring of Honor, being inducted in 2010.
Why he won't make the Hall of Fame:
Ultimately, for coaches, it all comes down to championships. There are 22 coaches currently in the Hall of Fame, and 17 of them won multiple championships as a head coach. When comparing Dungy to every individual coach in the Hall of Fame he actually matches up favorably, but when looking at the overall picture, Dungy would be one of very few coaches with only one Super Bowl ring. He could be seen as having only won that title because of Peyton Manning as well, though that wouldn't be entirely accurate. When looking just purely at on-field statistical accomplishments, Dungy looks to be a border-line candidate, as he ranks 12th in winning percentage and 22nd in total games won, but has only one ring.
What are his chances to make it as part of the Class of 2015?
When people talk about the Hall of Fame, they say that you want to put people in who are essential to the story of the National Football League. If that's the criteria, then Tony Dungy fits - there haven't been many people over the last decade-plus who had a bigger impact on the game than Dungy. From the way he did things (winning the right way) to being the first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl to being the inventor of the "Tampa 2" defense to rebuilding the Buccaneers from the ground up to a historic run with the Colts in the 2000s, Dungy has had a huge impact on the game recently. He's likely done enough to warrant inclusion in the Hall of Fame despite just one ring, but he might have to wait. He has been a finalist in each of the past two seasons and I do think that he will get in at some point, but I'm not convinced that will be this year. I hope so, as he's one of the best people you'll find in sports and a very good coach as well, but I'm not convinced.