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Mike Tomlin Surpasses Tony Dungy As Winningest African-American Head Coach In NFL History

Tony Dungy is a Hall of Famer. He had a remarkable career as a coach in the National Football League, rising up in the ranks with the team that drafted him as a defensive back, the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Chuck Noll making him the youngest assistant coach in NFL history at 25, and then the youngest coordinator at 28.

He also became the first head coach to defeat all 32 teams—of course, not every head coach ever has that opportunity if he’s only coached in one spot, or coached before there were 32 teams, but nevertheless, nobody did that before him.

His career winning percentage of .668 stands as the 14th-best in NFL history—and fifth-best among those who have coached in at least 200 games. He gave Mike Tomlin his first job in the NFL as a defensive assistant in his final year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001.

Tomlin just surpassed Dungy on the all-time coaching wins list yesterday by securing his 140th-career victory as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, defeating the Baltimore Ravens to go 7-0 on the season, now 140-74-1 all-time, with a winning percentage of .653.

In surpassing Dungy, now 22nd all-time in the wins list, Tomlin became the winningest African-American head coach in NFL history. Marvin Lewis and Dennis Green, to the best of my knowledge, are the only other African-American head coaches to have ever won at least 100 games. Ron Rivera’s 78 wins are currently the second-most among active non-white head coaches in career wins. The next is Anthony Lynn with 28.

Dungy helped pave the way for coaches like Tomlin, who became the second African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl behind him, as well as the youngest head coach to win. They are still the only two to have won, but Tomlin is looking to add a second to his resume, which Dungy failed to do.

Of note is that there is still an outside chance that Tomlin could tie Bill Cowher in career wins this year—but it would take the Steelers going undefeated in 2020, as he has 149 career wins, and the Steelers only have nine more games.

Pittsburgh originally hired Tomlin in 2007 after Cowher elected to retire from coaching. At that point, he had been a defensive assistant for five years with the Buccaneers and a defensive coordinator for one year with the Minnesota Vikings.

At the time that he was hired, there were some players whom he was coaching, like James Farrior, who were older than he was—that he even played against in college when he was at William & Mary. His selection was met with a tremendous amount of doubt and skepticism.

All he has done since then is carve out a Hall of Fame resume and to do so with class, and the most important thing of all is that, right now, he is once again coaching a contender.

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