TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tony Dungy is a man who needs no introduction. The former head coach of the Buccaneers left a lasting impression on the Tampa Bay area and continues to do so through his charitable work and involvement with various local organizations.
Earlier this month, Dungy made an announcement that further solidifies his impact off the field.
“We are supporting Abe Brown Ministries. A great outreach to prisoners and ex-offenders in Tampa,” Dungy announced.
Through the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign, Dungy’s signed cleats will be auctioned off. All proceeds from the cleats, which were designed by his daughter Jade, will go to Abe Brown Ministries.
Dungy tells 8 On Your Side he first met the late Rev. Abe Brown when he moved to Tampa in the 90s.
“He was going on prison visits and in 1996, he asked me if I would go along. I was so touched by that, I stayed involved my whole time coaching here in Tampa,” said Dungy.
Brown’s mission was to help ex-offenders make the transition from prison into a productive life. Now Brown’s legacy and life’s work lives on with the help of people like the ministries president, Robert Blount.
“We go into the prison and we share the gospel inside of the prison but we have to be able to complement that message with hope and tangible opportunities for individuals coming back to our community, men and women to live out their freedom in Christ and live out their freedom in society,” Blount said. “We prepare them with essential life skills, employability skills, sometimes vocational certifications so that they can get a job and get a better life.”
Blount says this past Friday, Dungy sent him a text message about his big plans for the personalized, decked-out cleats.
“Our donations kind of dropped off a little bit since we launched the Ready for Work Hillsborough Program. Coach Dungy and I have had some conversations about that and I believed that is what motivated him to name Abe Brown miniseries as the beneficiary of the My Cause My Cleats this year,” said Blount.
The bidding for the cleats is now open. Dungy tells 8 On Your Side, he hopes that the proceeds go back into the ministries programs and have an impact on someone’s life, just as much as Rev. Brown impacted his own.
“We have a responsibility to give back and make our communities a better place to live. Rev. Brown, that was his mantra for years and years. Give back and do what you can to make Tampa a better place to live. So, I just feel a special bond with that and I just want to continue doing that,” said Dungy.