MIAMI -- Merely by stepping on the field Sunday, Tony Dungy
made cultural history.
A few hours later, he won the Super Bowl, too.
Not bad for a day's work.
The biggest win of Dungy's career came against his close friend
and protege, Bears coach Lovie Smith. They were the first black
head coaches in the 41-year history of the Super Bowl.
When the game ended, the 51-year-old Dungy was hoisted onto the
shoulders of his team.
"It means probably more to him than it does to any of us,"
defensive end Dwight Freeney said. "He has waited a long time. He
has deserved this."
As his team celebrated, Dungy switched his blue Colts cap for a
white one that read ``NFL champions'' and walked to midfield, where
he and Smith exchanged words and a hug.
Dungy held on for an extra second.
"I just told Lovie how proud I was of this whole moment,"
Dungy said. "I really appreciate what he has done in Chicago -- the
way he does it, the type of person he is. They're going to get
their championship soon."
Their relationship dates to 1996, when Dungy hired Smith, a
former University of Tulsa player and assistant coach, to coach
linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were a page-one
story throughout Super Bowl week, discussing daily the laid-back
personalities and Christian faith they share, as well as their
"I'm proud to be the first African-American coach to win
this," Dungy said during the trophy ceremony. "But again, more
than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but
also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord's way. We're
more proud of that."
Dungy won because he had the better quarterback. Like his coach,
Peyton Manning filled a void in his impressive resume by winning a
ring. Steady rain made for a sloppy game that included eight
turnovers, but Manning threw for 247 yards, including a 53-yard
"We're proud to have won this for our leader, Coach Dungy,"
Smith's erratic young quarterback, Rex Grossman, made the same
kind of mistakes that had Bears fans lobbying for his benching all
season. He threw two interceptions, with one returned for a
touchdown, and he fumbled twice, losing one.
Smith stayed with his quarterback, and the underdog Bears found
themselves gradually overpowered by the Colts.
In the early going, it appeared Smith might pull off an upset
against his former mentor. Devin Hester returned the opening
kickoff 92 yards for a score, and Smith followed the rookie down
the sideline and signaled touchdown.
But Indy rallied and claimed its first Super Bowl championship.
"We took the hit early with Devin Hester," Dungy said. "We
talked about it -- 'It's going to be a storm. Sometimes you have to
work for it.' Our guys played so hard, and I can't tell you how
proud I am of our group, our organization and our city."
The Colts had been perennial title contenders since Dungy became
coach in 2002, but fell short each year. Before that, he had four
winning seasons in Tampa Bay but failed to reach the title game.
The breakthrough came two weeks ago, when Indianapolis overcame
an 18-point deficit to beat New England.
"The Lord doesn't always take you in a straight line," Dungy
said. "He tests you sometimes."
Smith, in his third season as head coach, led the Bears to their
first Super Bowl since Mike Ditka directed them to the league title
21 years ago.
Dungy joined Ditka and Tom Flores as the only men to win Super
Bowl titles as both players and coaches. Dungy, a former University
of Minnesota quarterback, was a backup safety for the championship
Pittsburgh Steelers 28 years ago.