TAMPA (FOX 13) - Tony Dungy opened the door to football immortality.
"You get the knock, and you realize that there's only one reason they'd be knocking at your door," said Dungy, who is set to become the eighth Buccaneer to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "When you see it, and actually get that word... I didn't expect it to happen, so to me it was a big surprise and one of those big thrills that you can't really expect."
This was Dungy's third attempt at getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a head coach for 13 seasons between both the Buccaneers and Colts.
He turned around a Bucs team that had 14-straight losing seasons. He led the Bucs to their first playoff after a 15-year drought. Dungy said the Bucs opened the door for him.
"My favorite time of my whole career was 1997, our first year making the playoffs and really when the community got back behind the team, there was just something unique about that," said Dungy. "I'll always have a special place in my heart with the Bucs organization and just everything that they did for me."
Leading up to August's induction ceremony, Dungy is a busy man. He had to be fitted for his gold jacket. Last month, his bust was made, the one that goes into the Hall of Fame.
"The sculptor comes and he's got this clay that's kind of two-thirds done," Dungy described. "We just sat at my house for eight hours, talked and had conversations and ate lunch while he was working. When he was finished up, I have to say, it was like looking in the mirror."
Looking to the past, Dungy credits the Bucs for giving him his first shot as a NFL head coach.
"I haven't coached here in 14 years, but people still are saying, 'Hey, we appreciate you because we're Bucs fans.' That's special," said Dungy.
For his efforts, Tampa Bay fans will always leave the door open for Coach Dungy.