Monday, February 05, 2007

But more important than that ...

Very much enjoyed the Colts' victory last night, as it represented vindication for Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning. I am big fans of both, especially Dungy. I like Lovie Smith, too, but I was really pulling for Tony Dungy.

For those that don't know, Coach Dungy lost his 18-year-old son to suicide last season. His team rallied around him, but they were eliminated from the playoffs by the Steelers in '05. Repeatedly, he's had to endure the standard refrain that he and his team are "soft" and incapable of competing with the big, bad Patriots and the tough-minded, ever-dour Bill Belichek.

But Tony Dungy has always been a picture of class. He has never wavered. He never lashed back at critics. He is always gracious. Can a leader of men be thus?

Well, it appears so. This year he vanquished Belichek and the "unbeatable" Tom Brady.

Then, much was made of the Super Bowl matchup between Dungy and Smith, for it was they were the first-ever black head coaches to lead their teams to the Super Bowl. Now, Dungy has made history by becoming the first black head coach to win a title.

And it couldn't have happened to a better guy. He was gracious in fielding questions all week about the historic matchup with his friend Smith. Dungy gave Smith his first job in the NFL, after all. Both of the coaches told the press how it was indeed a big deal to be the first two black head coaches to make it to the game's biggest stage. Both are a lot alike, and they have this strange, almost antiquated notion today that you don't have to act like an idiot to be a leader. Heck, you don't even need to curse.

Along the way, the MSM ignored the biggest story of all. You see, these two superior coaches at the top of their craft are not only black, not only great friends ... they are also committed Christians.

How can this be, pray tell? The MSM saw a more important angle in the matchup, and as noted above, it's not that it wasn't important.

It's just that the MSM missed the most important thing, like they usually do. Their template doesn't allow them to see what others do.

I saw some of Coach Dungy's interviews this week, and he credited those black coaches who came before who didn't get the opportunity he did. He graciously offered that better coaches never got the chance he did. And he may be right.

But better men didn't get the chance.

So, it's only fitting that the first black head coach to win an NFL title is Tony Dungy, the Christian. Here's a man who (a year removed from losing his son) still expresses his gratitude to God. Amazing.

At the end of the game, Jim Nance asked Coach Dungy for his thoughts on being the first black head coach to win it. All week long, the coach had tried to tell those who would listen that there was something more to this story. After Nance asked the question with the world watching, Dungy acknowledged his pride. And then he said something like this: "But more important than that, this game shows that you can succeed doing as Christian coaches doing it the right way. Lovie Smith and I are committed Christian coaches who do it the right way."

This was the most important message from the coach. I cheered from my living room.

And Black History Month was honored in a way that many could have only dreamed.

It can be done the right way. And we were reminded of that by a giant of a man who happens to be black. I may not be black, and I may not be related by blood, but I am as proud as can be of my brother in the faith -- Tony Dungy.