Colts coach stands alone in history
After his Colts dispatched Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears 29-17, Tony Dungy stood alone in history.
MIAMI -- As he stood on the podium, amid the swirling confetti in the middle of Dolphin Stadium, Colts head coach Tony Dungy thought of NFL assistant coaches such as Jimmy Ray, Sherman Lewis, Lionel Taylor and all the others who preceded him.
In the 40 previous Super Bowls, there was not a single African-American head coach among the 80 leadership slots. That's 0-for-80. On Sunday, in Super Bowl XLI, there were two. After his Colts dispatched Lovie Smith's Bears 29-17, Dungy stood alone in history.
During the presentation of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Dungy said he and Smith valued their faith more than their social accomplishment.
"I'll tell you what," Dungy said. "I'm proud to represent the African-American coaches. It means an awful lot to this country. [But] we're more proud of that."
Fritz Pollard was the first African-American head coach, in 1921. Fast-forward to Art Shell, who was hired to be the Raiders' coach by owner Al Davis in 1989, making him the first black head coach of the modern era.
Lovie Smith taking on Tony Dungy marked only the second time in the four major sports that the championship has had both teams led by a black head coach/manager. In 1975, Al Attles' Warriors defeated KC Jones' Bullets in the NBA Finals. Here's the list of black coaches in championships:
|2007||Tony Dungy, Colts||Won 29-17|
|2007||Lovie Smith, Bears||Lost 29-17|
|2006||Avery Johnson, Mavs||Lost 4-2|
|2003||Byron Scott, Nets||Lost 4-2|
|2002||Byron Scott, Nets||Lost 4-0|
|1986||KC Jones, Celtics||Won 4-2|
|1985||KC Jones, Celtics||Lost 4-2|
|1984||KC Jones, Celtics||Won 4-3|
|1979||Lenny Wilkens, Sonics||Won 4-1|
|1978||Lenny Wilkens, Sonics||Lost 4-3|
|1975||Al Attles, Warriors||Won 4-0|
|1975||KC Jones, Bullets||Lost 4-0|
|1969||Bill Russell, Celtics||Won 4-3|
|1968||Bill Russell, Celtics||Won 4-2|
|2002||Dusty Baker, Giants||Lost 4-3|
|1993||Cito Gaston, Jays||Won 4-2|
|1992||Cito Gaston, Jays||Won 4-2|
After the game, Dungy talked about Smith, whom he hired from Ohio State for his first staff in Tampa Bay.
"I told him how proud I was of this moment," Dungy said. "They're going to get their championship soon."
"I think Lovie runs his program the same way [as Dungy], with respect for his players, with the idea he wants his players to be part of their city," Dungy said. "You want to do things the right way.
"I can coach with no profanity, no violations of the rules, anything like that. And I hope that gets across to owners, maybe athletic directors in college football, that, hey, look at maybe a different set of people than you always looked at.
"There's a lot of African-American men that can do the job."
Last week, when former African-American coaches talked about this precedent-setting Super Bowl, they acknowledged the magnitude of the moment, but also hoped that Dungy and Smith's ascension would end the need to discuss the issue.
Doug Williams, the first African-American quarterback to start in a Super Bowl, was the MVP of Super Bowl XXII and, 19 years later, no one makes an issue of the color of Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick or Vince Young.
"I'm excited about the opportunity," Smith said last week. "Excited about the step that we're taking. Excited about the progress we're making right now. I talk about the day when we're not talking about the day when we're the first African-American coaches to lead their team to the Super Bowl.
"That day is coming."
That day has come.
Greg Garber is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
SUPER BOWL XLI
Super Bowl Central
• Colts 29, Bears 17
• Game recap
• Wojciechowski: Unbearable
• Clayton: Manning picks 'em apart
• Smith: MVP controversy?
• Pasquarelli: Colts quiet Bears' D
• Clayton: Addai no ordinary Joe
• Pasquarelli: Rhodes celebrates
• Five minutes with Rhodes
• Dungy stands alone in history
• Watch the best commercials
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• Postgame photo gallery
• Fourth quarter photo gallery
• Third quarter photo gallery
• Halftime photo gallery
• Second quarter photo gallery
• First quarter photo gallery
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• Elias Says: Super Bowl facts
• Dungy leans to return
• Colts celebrate win with parade
• Hester takes opening kick for TD
• Knee injury sidelines Benson
• Hill: Hottest Super Bowl parties
• Hruby: Pop culture report
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