A Christian Man … and a Coach

(Note: for a MUCH more concise article that expresses my views, please see Kim’s Blog!) I haven’t cared much about the National Football League (NFL) the past few years.  However, I always kept at least a distant glance on the Indianapolis Colts.  Peyton Manning, who was a quarterback for the University of Tennessee for 4 years, is their quarterback.  I suppose that this has made its way into the culture so much that no explanation like that is necessary.  Anyhow, I began keeping up with NFL a lot more last year when I got into fantasy league football. 

Now, of the NFL teams, the Colts are my favorite.  The Tennessee Titans came to Memphis around ’96 and moved to Nashville in ’98 (if memory serves).  However, I’ve never been much of a fan.  When Manning went to the Colts, I picked them to follow.  That was a LONG intro for what I really want to talk about:  Tony Dungy. 

During the much anticipated (but not realistically expected) playoff run and especially after the AFC Championship and Super Bowl victories by the Colts, I cannot adequately say how impressed I am with their coach, Tony Dungy:  a Christian first who happens to be African-American.  His remarks are stunning in such a lascivious and base age.  Even regarding racial issues, his comments are all the more amazing.  For example, when asked about the significance of coaching against his good friend Lovie Smith in the Super Bowl and becoming the first African-American to win a Super Bowl, he graciously talked about the fact that it was meaningful and he respected those who went before for paving the way for him and others, but ALSO said that neither he nor Lovie were the greatest of coaches, but that they just happened to be the first; he also doesn’t hesitate when asked about all the A-A significance to say, “But more than that …” how meaningful the championship is to his team, the city of Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana.  What a class act!

The next point is even better:  he attribute all success to the Lord!  His style of coaching is to NEVER raise his voice (boy, I could learn a BIG lesson!!), and he DOES NOT USE PROFANITY:  he attributes these things to “The Lord’s Way” of doing things:  i.e., “the right way”.  He does not hesitate to mention that his friend Lovie does the SAME!.  When asked about the Colts’ highly improbable playoff run (they were LAST in the NFL in rushing defense ! — and yet the first team with such dubious credentials to win a Super Bowl), he always mentions that the Lord had set it up; all the difficult situations, etc., were the Lord’s way of challenging the team to respond to difficult circumstances.  He should know: he lost his son last year in week 14 (or 15) of the season to suicide.  Furthermore, several of his players have experienced tragedies of a similar magnitude (or greater) in the last few months.  He has functioned as a father figure to them all. 

The most impressive comment to me was that, when he was asked about the significance of his team’s victory for other African-Americans, he said that he hoped that other NFL teams, and college athletic directors, would perhaps consider possiblities that they had not before:  that is, to perhaps give an A-A man a chance, or a CHRISTIAN MAN a chance (!!) to do things a different way than the norm.  In my opinion, the Lord has allowed him to be in this position now (maybe Esther-like?) of being a winner & a Christian who is respected on the national stage, and he has used that platform in grace and style, and doesn’t hesitate to be a witness for the Lord.  His peers, the announcers and pontificators, and his team respect him as a Christian man, whom everyone feels like deserved a Super Bowl ring.  They don’t stand alone:  he is a hero in a culture that is dying and wasting away.  I definitely admire him, after all I’ve heard.  Maybe the Lord will raise up more Tony Dungys and Lovie Smiths as respected figures in our culture in the most unlikely places.  I pray that he does, as we need the Lord and his ambassadors now more than ever.

Published in: on February 6, 2007 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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