Super Bowl XLI had been hyped as a major social milestone in U.S. history, since for the time, the head coaches of both teams were black.
But when the game was over and the Indianapolis Colts had defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17, the winning coach said Jesus Christ was more important than any racial moment.
During the nationally televised post-game show on CBS, coach Tony Dungy was asked specifically about the “social significance.”
Jim Nantz of CBS Sports: This is one of those moments, Tony, where there is also social significance in this victory, and to have your hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Tell me what this means to you right now.
Tony Dungy: I’ll tell you what. I’m proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American to win this. It means an awful lot to our country. But again, more than anything, I’ve said it before, Lovie Smith and I, not only the first two African-Americans, but Christian coaches showing that you can win doing it the Lord’s way. And we’re more proud of that.
The Associated Press reported Dungy’s comments about God in stories it moved on its wire service, but the Bloomberg News Service only published the portion regarding African-Americans, and edited out the mention of Christian coaches.
Colts’ owner Jim Irsay credited God with the victory as he held the sparkling Vince Lombardi trophy in his hands.
“Now there’s an awful lot of shining glory, even more than last time up here,” Irsay said. “But we’re giving it all to God again because that’s what got us here … sticking together and believing that we could, and I know God has looked after us on this journey and bonded us into such a tight family.”
Dungy has had a close relationship with Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith since 1996, when Dungy hired Smith to coach linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“My relationship, first, is with Jesus Christ, and he is the center of my life,” said Smith when asked about his faith earlier this week. “I try to live a Christian life. I would like for players to know my faith based on what they see on a day-to-day basis.”
CBS anchor James Brown, himself a strong believer in Jesus Christ, told the Baptist Press this year’s Super Bowl could be a welcome change in a sport that hasn’t had that many Christian players and announcers in the past.
“Personally, I’m gratified to see that change,” Brown said. “I think their faith is a wonderful example to see and I think both men are sterling examples of what character coaches should be. That’s what we should be promoting.”