By Chad Bonham
Super Bowl XLI (February 4, 2007): Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17
One way or another, history was going to be made. Either Tony Dungy or Lovie Smith was going to become the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl title.
Dungy had led the Indianapolis Colts to its first NFL championship game appearance in 36 years and first since the franchise had moved from Baltimore in 1984. Smith had likewise brought the Chicago Bears back to prominence after a 21-year NFC title drought.
Before a victor could be crowned, both teams were forced to endure rainy conditions in Miami—something that had never happened before in the Super Bowl. Another historic first (Devin Hester’s opening kickoff return for a touchdown) put the Colts back on their heels. But the Bears’ celebration didn’t last for long. Quarterback Peyton Manning methodically passed for 247 yards and a touchdown to lead Indianapolis to a comfortable 29-17 win.
“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.”
It was actually Dungy’s second time to win the title. His first championship came during Super Bowl XIII as a player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But this time, thanks in part to the historic nature of his accomplishment, it was different and even more special. One thing that didn’t change, however, was Dungy’s character and his desire to coach using Christian principles. And after two more seasons, he decided to retire and focus on his family and his ministry objectives.
In 2016, when Dungy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he gave a glimpse into how he was able to walk away at the height of his career while in his early 50s and still relatively young as an NFL head coach. It came in the form of a Bible verse that his mother (now deceased) used to quote to him often when he was a boy.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
“And I know that she’s happy to know that her son never forgot that verse,” Dungy told the audience.
“The Lord has truly led me on a wonderful journey through 31 years in the NFL, through some temporary disappointments to some incredible joys,” he added. “I cherish every single relationship that I was able to make over those 31 years, and I’ll always be grateful to the National Football League for giving me my life’s work.”
This devotional is brought to you by Museum of the Bible, a 430,000 square foot museum being constructed 3 blocks south of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. and is set to open in November of 2017.
(Photos: USAF; NBC Sports)