Skip to comments.Nice Guy Finishes First (Warning to hypersensitive atheists: Biblical references herein.)
Posted on 02/05/2007 5:56:58 AM PST by Sam's Army
MIAMI - OK, it didn't rain 40 days and 40 nights, but the deluge was Biblical enough. Anyway, if someone had built an ark, they would have slapped blinking lights and Hooters girls on it and had Prince sing from the crow's nest. It's the Super Bowl, after all.
And then there would have been the problem of finding two of every kind.
There's only one Tony Dungy.
The morning Bible reading earlier in the week, before a walk on the beach with Indianapolis Colts assistant coach Clyde Christensen - yes, that Clyde - was about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, you know, that 40-year scoring drive. They got there just the same.
And so did Anthony Kevin Dungy on Sunday night in the heavy rain at Dolphin Stadium. His Colts won the Super Bowl over the Chicago Bears.
Eleven years after he became a head coach, five years after another rainy night, when he carried his belongings from One Buc Place, and hardly 14 months since he buried his oldest son, Tony Dungy, to use a term his doubters loved, took a football team as far as he could.
To a world championship.
Like he told his players:
"There's going to be a storm. The Lord doesn't always bring you straight through."
Tampa is not in Indiana, but there were doubtless thousands of people rubbing lucky horseshoes Sunday for a good man. Now you can have your Super Bowl trophy and Tony's, too.
This one was for a true believer.
He believed when he turned a joke into a contender in Tampa. He believed when the Bucs kept coming up short, and when he was fired, and when the Colts came up short, too. He believed this season after Jacksonville runners trampled his team, after New England took an 18-point lead in the AFC title game, even after the Devin Hester returned Sunday's opening kickoff for a lightning-quick touchdown and Bears lead.
And those don't even crack the Top 100 in Tony Dungy beliefs.
He Did It His Way He used this week as a platform because he believed it mattered to young coaches everywhere, to people everywhere, that he and his friend, Bears coach Lovie Smith, were African-American coaches making history in Black History Month. There was more, he said.
"Christian coaches showing you can win the Lord's way - that's what I'm more proud of."
He believed that what mattered all his life mattered now. He never changed. He did it his way. Sunday night, his way went all the way.
Most of all, Tony Dungy believed it was all part of God's plan, even losing the Bucs job.
"I remember the TV news showing Tony loading his boxes in the car," Christensen said during the week. "He'd turned a crap franchise into Super Bowl or Bust, and he's loading his own boxes on that rainy night, pitch black, not a soul helping him."
That test was nothing.
The darkest night began with a phone call in the middle of the night. It ended with a funeral.
I went to the visitation for James Dungy. Like everyone else, I received a hug from James' father. Tony Dungy spent the night comforting people. At the church the next day, he spoke.
Bucs personnel executive Doug Williams was there.
"What Tony did the day of the funeral, eulogizing his son, I don't care if you're white, black, green or yellow - it was powerful," Williams said.
Trent Dilfer lost his boy Trevin before Dungy lost James.
"It's a wonderful healing power that Tony's words have had," Dilfer said.
It was part of Tony Dungy's journey.
"Sometimes the Lord tests you with something that looks impossible," he said this week. "To me, one of the joys of going through the battle is keeping the faith and seeing if you can make it. If it's always right there in your hands, you don't have to have faith."
'It's Our Time' At halftime of the AFC title game, he told his players, down 15 points, that he still believed.
"It's our time," Dungy said.
So was Sunday.
Sunday was for Tony Dungy and his players, the guys he'd huddled with in the back of the church at James' funeral, the guys he'd returned to as soon as he could, sooner than any of them could have believed. They mattered like family to the man. All his guys always have.
The Bears' lead faded in the downpour. The Colts powered past them. Even Peyton Manning, Super Bowl MVP, hopped aboard the Deliverance Express.
It didn't validate or vindicate the head coach. He insisted that he didn't need this for that. And that this isn't an end-all. There are bigger things.
It was enough to see a good man unfold those arms and raise them in triumph, to smile for everyone there and everyone who wasn't - like mom, dad and James.
Dungy went for another walk Sunday morning. He got lost along the way. He meant to walk a mile, but made a wrong turn.
"We ended up walking about two-and-a-half hours," he said.
It gave him time.
"I thought about just the journey."
His celebratory baptism was Gatorade. And it was out of Tony Dungy's hands when all those souls lifted him onto championship shoulders for a victory ride in the rain.
Now that's part of the journey too.
Let it rain.
An impressive testimony, no doubt.
I have to quibble though, when he said that he and Lovey Smith were the "first Christian" coaches to coach a Superbowl. I gotta figure he mis-spoke on that one.
Surely, of the 80 coaches before them, there is at least one Christian.
I have to agree. Interesting that it is even a topic in today's climate, however.
I gotta admit, the man with the hat came to mind.
You know, NFL coaches aren't allowed to dress that way anymore? They have to wear the NFL licenced logo stuff on the sideline or pay a fine.
what's up with the dateline being Miami, OK?
Of course God would have a Christian coach for His team. :)
Tony didn't use the word 'first.' He only used the word Christian.
How about Joe Gibbs and the Denver coach (I am getting old and name memory is getting to be a problem)?
He didn't say that they were the first Christian coaches. He said that they were Christian coaches showing that you could win doing it the Lord's way.
Joe Gibbs is way ahead of those guys. I'm sure there were other christian superbowl coaches before Joe, too. Mmm, maybe Don Shula and George Allen, who met in Superbowl 7. Who knows. A very wonderful testimony, all the same.
No "first" in that quote.
Tony Dungy is an example of boldness and consistency in Christ, and perseverence in faith that we all can look up to.
I'm sure he knows about his brothers in Christ who preceded him.
While I'm sure God doesn't care about winning football games, He does help His children who desire to do their best for HIM.
That's the message here, IMO.
I am sure he misspoke. I remember that Joe Gibbs and Dan Reeves are Christians, and the Redskins and Broncos held a joint worship service the Saturday before the Super Bowl.
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