Tue, Feb 06, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Dungy makes Super Bowl history

AP , MIAMI, FLORIDA

Quarterback Peyton Manning, left, of the Indianapolis Colts hugs head coach Tony Dungy as they celebrate their 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI on Sunday at Dolphins Stadium in Miami, Florida. Manning was named the game's MVP and Dungy became the first black coach to win the NFL's biggest event.

PHOTO: AFP

Merely by stepping on the field on Sunday, Tony Dungy made cultural history.

A few hours later, he won the Super Bowl, too.

Not bad for a day's work.

Long saddled with a reputation as a coach who couldn't win the NFL's big one, Dungy shook that label when his Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17.

The biggest win of Dungy's career came against his close friend and protege, Bears coach Lovie Smith. They were the first black head coaches in the 41-year history of the Super Bowl.

When the game ended, Dungy was hoisted onto the shoulders of his team. He switched his blue Colts cap for a white one that read "NFL champions" and walked to midfield, where he and Smith exchanged words and a hug.

Dungy held on for an extra second.

Their relationship dates to 1996, when Dungy hired Smith to coach linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The coaches were a big story throughout Super Bowl week, discussing the laid-back personalities and Christian faith they share, as well as their ground-breaking success.

"I'm proud to become the first African-American coach to ever 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."

Dungy won because he had the better quarterback. Like his coach, Peyton Manning filled a void in his resume by winning a ring.

Steady rain made for a sloppy game that included eight turnovers, but Manning threw for 247 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown pass, and was named the game's most valuable player.

"We're proud to have won this for our leader, Coach Dungy," Manning said.

Smith's erratic quarterback, Rex Grossman, made the same kind of mistakes that had Bears fans lobbying for his benching all season.

He threw two interceptions, with one returned for a touchdown, and fumbled twice, losing one.

The Colts had been perennial title contenders since Dungy became coach in 2002, but fell short each year. Before that, he had four winning seasons in Tampa Bay but failed to reach the title game.

Smith, in his third season as head coach, led the Bears to their first Super Bowl since Mike Ditka directed them to the league title 21 years ago.

Dungy joined Ditka and Tom Flores as the only men to win Super Bowl titles as both players and coaches.

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