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Tony Dungy Reveals Key Lessons Learned From Mentor Chuck Noll

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Steelers Chuck Noll Bobby Brister

Former NFL head coach and Hall of Famer Tony Dungy recently had a conversation about his mentor Chuck Noll on the  #92Noon! show with Paul Allen on KFAN FM 100.3 in Minneapolis.

Dungy signed with the Steelers as undrafted free agent out of Minnesota in 1977. He played safety for two seasons in Pittsburgh and was a part of the Super Bowl XIII championship team. After stints with the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants, he turned his attention to coaching and became the Steelers defensive backs coach in 1981. He would later serve as the Steelers defensive coordinator from 1984-1988.

The lessons that Noll taught Dungy stuck with him as he moved up the coaching ranks. Dungy served as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach from 1996-2001 and was the Indianapolis Colts head coach from 2002-2008. He had great success with both franchises, recording a career record of 139-69 (.688) in the regular season.

In 2006, Dungy led the Colts to a Super Bowl title.

“I think I took my football philosophy, my Xs and Os and team building from Coach Noll, that was my first introduction to NFL football. Don’t make football your whole life. Be a great teammate, have one goal in mind, and help the team be the best it can be, no matter what your role is. And that’s what we believed,” Dungy said.

“[Noll] sold it to us that champions don’t do extraordinary things. Champions do the ordinary things better than everyone else. We’re gonna be fundamentally sound, we’re gonna work together. We weren’t gonna beat ourselves. And that’s the background I took.”

The greatest piece of wisdom that Noll gave Dungy was to get the most out of his players.

“I remember going into his office and saying, ‘Hey coach, I’ve never coached before. What am I supposed to do,” Dungy said. “He told me something I never forgot. He said, ‘Tony, as a coach, you have one job and that’s to help your players be better… you’ve gotta reach every single player and help them be the best they can be.’ So for the next 28 years, that’s what I tried to do.”

Dungy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Former Steelers safety Donnie Shell was his presenter. Dungy returned the favor for his former teammate and presented Shell when he got inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2021.