Last night, on the winning Super Bowl stage, CBS’ sports commentator Jim Nance asked Tony Dungy about the “social significance” of winning the game. He was referring, of course, to the fact that Dungy was the first African American coach to ever win the Super Bowl. Dungy’s response:
I tell you what, I am proud to be representing African-American coaches and to be the first African-American to win this – that means an awful lot to our country, but again, more than anything and I said it before, Lovie Smith and I are not only the first two African Americans but Christian coaches showing that you can win doing it the Lord’s way and we are more proud of that.
In a sport like football where excess seems to dominate the headlines and the suspicion of drug use is high and arrests are common (see, for instance, the Cincinnati Bengals who have had 9 players arrested in just the past years), perhaps it is amazing that two Christian men who very much want to win games but are more committed to building up the character of the men on their teams made it such heights.
I don’t know if God answers prayers about football games or parking spots or slot machines or the right clothes to wear in the morning. I do know that God loves to be praised and Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith (the Chicago Bears coach) do that with their lives and their work.
An important note here – when Coach Dungy says, “win doing it the Lord’s way” it is easy to think that means that he has won it by being “nice.” That would be a mistake. The Lord’s way is many things – it is not nice. By that I mean the Lord’s way is not some insipid, Wonder-bread-fluffy, kiss-a-puppy kind of nice. It is a tough journey, a brutal journey and an exhausting race.
No one knows that more than Tony Dungy who lost his son to a suicide fourteen-months ago and has said repeatedly, “God is in every thing, even the ugly things.” And there isn’t an Indianapolis Colt (or Chicago Bear) who has been through one of their coaches training camps, endured their discipline, or been taught to play football by them who would call any of that nice. They would, and they do, call it “the right way” to play and to live and it doesn’t get more socially significant than that.