Tony Dungy and Tom Brady were once rivals.
The former Colts head coach and the former Patriots quarterback faced each other eight times, including three times in the playoffs, at the height of the rivalry between the Colts and the Patriots.
But now it looks like they’re on the same side.
Dungy, who was the Buccaneers’ head coach from 1996-2001 and is a Tampa Bay resident, shared the conundrum he’s in after Brady signed with the Buccaneers this offseason.
“It is really crazy,” Dungy said on NBC Sports’ “Lunch Talk Live” Friday. “[My boys] are coming to me now, [asking], ‘Dad, we’ve got to go online, There’s a Tom Brady jersey for $199!’ We would’ve never even talked about that before. But they’re so pumped up and excited. The people down here, who haven’t had a lot to cheer about over the last 10 years, all of a sudden, there is [a lot to cheer about].
“It is going to be a little change for me to have to start rooting for Tom now.”
While the Buccaneers haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, Dungy said that the fans in Tampa have similar expectations to what Patriots fans had for their team in recent years.
“They are so excited and all they’re hoping is that we get this season rolling and get to play,” Dungy said. “The feeling is we’re going [to the playoffs]. It’s just, ‘Who are we playing against in the Super Bowl?’”
Dungy’s also a fan of Brady’s fit with the Buccaneers, and not just because of the team’s receiving corps that includes Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
He also thinks that Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and offensive assistant Tom Moore, who was the Colts’ offensive coordinator when Dungy was the head coach there, made Tampa Bay an attractive destination for Brady because of what they’ve done with other quarterbacks.
“[Arians and Moore are] what has Tom Brady kind of comfortable in this situation,” Dungy said. “I went through this with Peyton [Manning] when he was changing teams. He wanted to stay in the AFC because he knew the AFC so well. He wanted to go to a team that had a chance to be, not only a playoff team, but a Super Bowl contender.
“So, you figure that’s what Tom is looking for [is the same comfortability] … I think he has looked at the whole scenario and said gosh, look at what Bruce Arians did with Carson Palmer in his late 30s. Look at what Tom Moore did with Peyton Manning, an older quarterback.”
With the sum of all its parts, Dungy said he could see why Tampa Bay was the next stop in Brady’s career.
“Tom is saying, ‘This is perfect for me, they’ve got good receivers and they have a dynamic offense,’” Dungy said. “All they kind of needed is that general to put it together. I can see where he’d be excited about this.”