Dungy Bids Farewell to Tampa Bay

January 15 – The dark clouds that loomed over One Buccaneer Place on Tuesday morning were appropriate for the occasion. After all, Tony Dungy, Tampa Bay's all-time winningest head coach, addressed the media and bid farewell to the Bay Area one day after being fired by a franchise he helped turn into one of the league's elite.

Ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy addressed the media at One Buc Place for the last time on Tuesday morning. Some feel Dungy's firing was justified while others feel he was given a raw deal, but no matter how one might feel about Tampa Bay's decision to part ways with Dungy after six seasons, there seemed to be an overwhelming consensus that the sight of another head coach roaming the Buccaneers' sideline next season will take some getting used to.

Dungy was fired on Monday night by executive vice presidents, Joel and Bryan Glazer, and they admit their decision to relieve Dungy of his coaching duties after six seasons what not an easy one.

"It's been a very tough couple of days," said Joel Glazer. " There were a lot of thoughtful hours. We have great respect for Tony Dungy and what he's done for this franchise and community. But at the end of the hour and after evaluating all of the issues at hand, we decided this was what was best for the franchise. Nobody is going to miss Tony more than we are, but this is the ugly side of this business."

While Dungy admitted he was a bit surprised by the Glazer's decision to fire him after bringing the Bucs to the playoffs three consecutive seasons, he said he understood this is the business side of the National Football League.

"I am very good friends with Denny Green and they (Vikings) won eight of 10 years in the playoffs and two times in the championship game," said Dungy. "It's just the nature of the business. The biggest thing is the direction of the team, and the way things are going, if you're not happy with that then you have to make a change."

While Dungy is no longer employed, he didn't leave One Buc Place empty handed. Dungy received just over $1 million severance pay for the final year of his contract.

Both fans and media expressed displeasure with how Dungy's firing was handled by the Glazers. Speculation about Dungy and his job status began a year ago at Super Bowl XXXV, and hit an all-time high when a controversial article was published in a local newspaper on the day the Buccaneers traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs. While some people feel the situation could have been handled better, Dungy insisted there was no good way to handle his firing.

"Well, there's no great way to handle this," said Dungy. "It's been fine."

Despite all of the negativity swirling around his departure, Dungy refused to place blame on the Glazers for the deafening speculation and his eventual dismissal. Dungy is determined to remember Tampa Bay for the good times, not the bad, and one would expect nothing less from such a class act.

"Our ownership gave us what we needed to try to win," said Dungy. "That's what you need, and that's what we had, and we did the best we could. It wasn't quite good enough, but I think we're going to go out proud of what we did, and I couldn't be more proud of my team and my staff. With that in mind, it's been great and it's been fun. The people of Tampa have been outstanding. We've had great fan support. We've tried to give them good football, and hopefully they've appreciated it."

Many people wanted answers as to why Dungy was fired, but the Glazers insisted there was not one, but rather a combination of things that led to their final decision.

"It wasn't one thing or another," said J. Glazer. "It was a sense of where this franchise was at, how the team was doing on the field and where we felt the best direction was to go. The simple thing here would have been to do nothing. But we're trying to win a championship here. We're doing what we think is best to bring this town a championship. You can criticize that, but just know one thing. We're in this to win championships and we're doing what we think is best for this franchise to win a championship."

The most obvious reason Dungy was fired was because the Buccaneers did not reach the Super Bowl, never mind win one in six seasons. The Glazers are confident Dungy will land on his feet as a head coach with another team, and in the end, they feel everyone, including Dungy, will benefit from the decision to part ways.

"There's never an easy way to do this," said J. Glazer. "But because it was Tony Dungy, it was downright miserable. He's done great things for this football team and community, and he'll go somewhere else and probably do great things for that football team. We just felt at this time from where we were at, change was just good for everybody."

So, what's next? The Glazers have indicated they will meet with GM Rich McKay and immediately start exploring potential head coaches. While the Glazers have acknowledged the fact that they have contacted Bill Parcells about the coaching vacancy, they insisted they would consider more than one candidate.

"There's a lot of good coaches in the National Football League," said J. Glazer. "Tony was unique. There's no question about that. But there's a lot of candidates out there and that will take care of itself."

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