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Published:March 12th, 2007 08:40 EST
Super Bowl XLI Will Go Down in History

Super Bowl XLI Will Go Down in History

By Mark Palangio

Super Bowl XLI will go down in history as one of the most historic games ever played. Not because Peyton Manning finally got a ring, not because it was the first Super Bowl to be played in the rain, not because Devin Hester of the Bears was the first player in Super Bowl history to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but because of something much more important, Colts head coach Tony Dungy. In leading the Indianapolis Colts to a win over the Chicago Bears, Dungy became the first African-American coach to ever win a Super Bowl.

Dungy’s accomplishment was not only a huge step for African-American coaches in the NFL, but for all African-Americans. Dungy is well known around the league for being intelligent, well spoken, a great coach, a hard worker and, most importantly, a genuinely great person. His victory sends an important message to African-Americans everywhere that anything can be accomplished if you work hard, persevere and truly want it.     

"I've been thinking about my generation of kids who watched Super Bowls and never really saw African-American coaches and didn't think about the fact that you could be a coach," Dungy said of the black kids who grew up in the 1960's. "Hopefully, young kids now will say, 'Hey, I might be the coach some day.' That's special."

This year’s game was the first Super Bowl to feature teams both coached by African-Americans, marking another milestone for the NFL. Dungy said he and Bears head coach Lovie Smith were not the most qualified African-American coaches in league history to reach the Super Bowl, but they took advantage of the opportunities they were given.

Dungy also became the third person in NFL history to both play and be the winning head coach in a Super Bowl, joining Tom Flores (Raiders) and Mike Ditka (Bears). Dungy was a safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers who won Super Bowl XIII in 1979.