Super Bowl: Sometimes nice guys do finish first

As one longtime NFL reporter put it, "Marv Levy and Tom Dungy are probably the two nicest characters the NFL has seen in the past 15 years."

nfl 88 (photo credit: )
nfl 88
(photo credit: )
"Sometimes nice guys do finish first" might be the most fitting headline for this upcoming Super Bowl, in reference to Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. As one longtime NFL reporter put it, "Marv Levy and Dungy are probably the two nicest characters the NFL has seen in the past 15 years." There is story after story in the US newspaper pages about Dungy and Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith being the two first African-American coaches to lead their team to a Super Bowl. But the more interesting story may be about Dungy's faith. Dungy is a devout Christian and has allowed God and religion to guide his life - he even prayed during the halftime of last week's game. "I told God not to let these guys [the New England Patriots] beat us on our home turf," said Dungy. It has not been easy for Dungy. His son, James, committed suicide last season at the age of 18. It came late in the year, when many predicted the Colts would win the Super Bowl after a 13-1 start. In Dungy's absence, the Colts lost another game to the Seattle Seahawks and were eliminated by the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional playoffs. Dungy allowed his faith to guide him even in the darkest of hours. "James is in God's hands now," said Dungy at the funeral. "The Lord is watching over him." It was clear Dungy believed there was a larger reason for everything. For Dungy, faith is also about family. In March 2006, Dungy was only five months removed from his son' suicide. That did not stop him from attending the annual NFL owners meeting, while other coaches skipped it, citing a range of excuses. Dungy decided to bring almost his entire family to Orlando, Florida. He spent much of the meeting on long walks with his family. "It was not easy, but James's death made me realize the importance of a strong family more than ever before," said Dungy at the time. Slowly, his family has began to cope with the loss. It has not been easy. When the Colts finally won the AFC Championship, Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay said that both his late father and James were smiling from above. Dungy's faith also guides him professionally. He is far from your traditional football coach. He does not scream at his players, but treats them like men, demanding accountability in a way that players do not want to disappoint. "He is really like a father figure," said Colts defensive lineman Anthony McFarland after last week's win. "He treats you with the utmost respect and you don't want to break that trust. We love to win for coach Dungy." Not surprisingly, Dungy is known in NFL circles as the ultimate players' coach. The question on everybody's mind is, will Dungy retire after this season? That probably depends on the outcome of the big game. This year's Super Bowl will be televised live in 232 countries. Canada, China, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Britain, Germany and Russia will have on-site television crews. The rest of the world will be watching on a live NFL Films feed. The game will be broadcast in 33 languages, with live broadcasts in 12 languages originating from Dolphin Stadium, including Hindi, Croatian, Galician, Icelandic, Greenlandic and Faroese. Somehow, Hebrew did not make the cut - maybe next year. But there will be an Arabic feed. There will also be a live Super Bowl audio cybercast (audio feed) in four languages - Russian, French, Spanish and Japanese.