The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that former owner and team president Malcom Glazer as well as Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden would be the 2017 inductees into the Ring of Honor – but were they the right choices?
Prepare yourself for an unpopular opinion; I think the Buccaneers got the Ring of Honor choices wrong. Well, not choices per se, but one of them is getting in before his time should come. I have nothing but the utmost admiration and respect for Malcom Glazer and what he did for this franchise. His enshrinement couldn’t come soon enough.
Jon Gruden on the other hand? Sorry, Bucs fans… it wasn’t his time.
Look, I love Chucky. His fire, his passion, his no b.s. approach to what he did. Hell, the man brought a Lombardi to Tampa Bay. Though, other than the 2002 season, what did he really do?
I’m not saying Gruden doesn’t deserve this honor. He absolutely does. I’m also not one of those that say he won with “Dungy’s team” because that championship team had pieces of him all over it. He brought in the missing pieces, added in a formidable offense, and was absolutely the missing piece to the championship puzzle.
However, I ask again, what else did he really do?
He botched drafts (passed on Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, wouldn’t give up Brian Kelly to the Lions in order to move up for Calvin Johnson yet Kelly went to the Lions as a free agent after the season anyway – need I go on?) and if you take away a remarkable Super Bowl season, Gruden was 45-51 as head coach of the Bucs with two playoff appearances and no wins.
I’ll reiterate, I believe despite the mistakes and the win/loss record, Chucky was still deserving of the Ring of Honor – just not before Tony Dungy.
Dungy may not have gotten the Bucs to the title game during his tenure and had he given just a little focus to the offense they could have been a dynasty. However, he was the man – along with Malcom Glazer – that got this team turned around from laughing stock to consistent contender. It was Dungy that made the Buccaneers a force to be reckoned with.
Dungy finally did get over the hump, winning Super Bowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts. As the coach of the Bucs, Dungy had a 54-42 record and went 2-4 in the postseason. Dungy is a Hall of Fame coach and he got there thanks in large part to Ira Kaufman’s presentation on how vital he was to the Bucs organization.
Unfortunately, I fear that Gruden’s recognition before Dungy may be the final straw for the former coach. That Gruden getting that honor, that privilege, before Dungy may sting a bit too much considering the accomplishments of each man for the franchise.
If it were up to me, the most logical solution would’ve been to induct the two coaches in the same season. Instead, it looks as though nostalgia of the fifteenth anniversary of that Super Bowl took precedence over a much longer, much more sustained career as head coach of the Buccaneers.
Hopefully, this doesn’t result in Tony Dungy declining any future enshrinement opportunities. It would be a tragedy to have someone so important to the Buccaneers’ past and their fans decide to wash his hands of the franchise after being spurned yet again.