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January 23, 2007

Many Firsts

By now you probably know that the Indianapolis Colts will play Da Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl. You probably also know that both teams are coached by African-Americans: Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, respectively. Either of them would have been the first African-American to lead his team to the Super Bowl. (Is it okay for me to say that I think that this is really cool?)

If you're a football fan you may also know that Dungy and Smith are close friends. But, if all you have to go on is the mainstream press, you'd assume that this friendship is rooted in the shared experiences as black men in football.

But as Daniel Pulliam at Get Religion pointed out, their friendship is rooted in more than race or football. "Master" Pulliam quotes the Baptist Press:

Super Bowl XLI will feature two teams making their first super game appearance in two-plus decades, two Midwestern teams separated by only a couple hundred miles, but most importantly two coaches who are strong believers in Jesus Christ.

Head coaches Tony Dungy of Indianapolis and close friend and fellow Christian Lovie Smith of Chicago gave credit to God following their respective teams’ victories in the conference championships Jan. 21.

“The Lord set this up in a way that no one would believe it,” Dungy said following the Colts’ win over New England. “The Lord tested us a lot this year, but He set this up to get all the glory.”

The only mainstream media figure who gets the connection is . . . Senator Barack Obama. At a news conference endorsing the re-election bid of Chicago mayor Richard Daley, the presidential candidate said:

“It’s a wonderful story . . . Obviously, to see two African-American coaches go to the Super Bowl when it has been historically difficult for black coaches to break into the NFL is terrific.

“But you know what makes it even better is that they are both men of humility, they are both men of God,” Obama said. “They never trash talk. They are not yellers and screamers on the sidelines. They are just a couple of class individuals.

“You can tell the loyalty and affection that their players have for them,” he said. “It is a wonderful story, not just for African-Americans but for all Americans to see men like that who are good fathers, who are good leaders, who do things the right way, succeed.”

As Pulliam said, Obama "gets religion," which is why he must be stopped. Did you know that his middle name is "Hussein" and that he attended a madrassa as a child? (Sorry folks, someone from the Washington Times seemed to have used high-frequency brain waves to control my fingers for a moment. My "Lord of the Second Advent" repellent shield restored my motor controls, although I do feel a lingering desire to engage in a mass wedding.)

I've long said that I want to be like Tony Dungy when I grow up, which is sad since he's only a few years older than me. So, I'll put it this way: I want every young man I care about to be like Tony Dungy when they grow up. Long before the Colts' historic comeback in the AFC championship game, he'd already won the "big one." (Of special interest around here, Dungy has an abiding interest in prison ministry.) It was the same dolts that missed the most important connection between him and Lovie Smith who doubted this. Go Colts!

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Travis McSherley

As an Indiana native and diehard Colts fanatic, I must say that this is your best post ever! (I'm ignoring the Obama comments...) Coach Dungy is among the most upstanding personalities in the sports world, and I have long been grateful for his ambassadorship of my team and my state, and my Lord.


Amen, Travis. I am both a Viking and Colt fan in Indiana. I've followed Tony Dungy since his time with the Vikings back in the early 90's. He has one of the most beautiful personalities you could ever find anywhere--as you indicated, a great ambassador of the faith.

Katharine Eastvold

Great post (Obama comments included), but you're rooting for the wrong team. Go Bears!


Katherine, I'm with you. I've been an on/off Bears fan since the Ditka days. And when my team isn't in it, I'm with the NFC. But love both these guys' (and Obama's) testimonies.

Ron Humphrey

Five years ago, shortly after Tony Dungy left Tampa (fired!) for Indianapolis, I sought to telephone interview him for an Inside Journal article. (IJ is Prison Fellowship's newspaper for prisoners.) I went through all of the PR outlets with the Colts and then prayed. Late one afternoon, the phone rang and a voice said, "This is Tony Dungy." It was and we spoke for 45 minutes.
The man is genuine. His appreciation for God came through in everything he said. It made a wonderful story of inspiration for the prisoners who read the paper.
I knew at the time Tony Dungy was destined for success. I just didn't think it would come so soon. I will root for the Colts this time. My Seahazwks won the game last year but were overruled by high frequency brain waves from the officiating crew.

Gina Dalfonzo

Nice post, Roberto. Dungy is a great man (and one of my dad's heroes); I'm not familiar with Smith, but he sounds like a good guy as well.

As for Senator Obama, having been among those who froze our tails off on Monday on behalf of the unborn, I'm not really in a mood to heap plaudits on the religious understanding of one of Planned Parenthood's best friends in the Senate (http://www.vote-smart.org/issue_rating_detail.php?sig_id=004508M). But as you posted in the interests of journalistic integrity, I'll let it pass. This time. ;-)

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