February 06, 2007

Tony Dungy

Tony Dungy Proud to be Christian Coach by Pete Winn, associate editor
Super Bowl coach shared his faith with the world.


Coach Tony Dungy made history Sunday when his Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears to win Super Bowl XLI. He not only became the first black coach to win the NFL championship, but also the first coach to openly talk about being a Christian immediately after the victory.
During the post-game show on CBS, Dungy was asked specifically about the "social significance" of his victory.
"I'm proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American to win this. It means an awful lot to our country," Dungy said. "More than anything . . . (Chicago Bears Coach) Lovie Smith and I (are proud) not only (to be) the first two African-Americans (in the Super Bowl), but Christian coaches showing that you can win doing it the Lord's way. And we're more proud of that."
The comment came as no surprise, however, to Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute (IFI) in Indianapolis.
"Everything we know about Tony Dungy's life -- what we know about his private life, and certainly his public life -- shows him to be a man of committed faith,'' Smith said.
He called Dungy, who works with IFI on projects defending the family, "a wonderful role model for those in public life."
"America is a culture that loves sports, and to have someone at the pinnacle of the top sport -- in terms of viewer participation -- give a clear testimony and Christian witness, I think is just remarkable," Smith said.
Dungy is fairly soft-spoken, Smith said, and doesn't yell, bully or belittle his players or anyone else. He's well-respected in the community, though homosexual activists have occasionally given him grief.
"We live in a day that when you say what you're for, all kinds of people will then start criticizing you because that will imply that you are against things," Smith said. "But Tony Dungy has done a great job of speaking out from a heart that loves Jesus Christ and saying, 'As a Christian, I'm going to come in and do the best job I can.'
"To see that work, and work at the top level of our sports society gives everyone who's trying to 'walk the talk' tremendous encouragement."
Bill Pugh, president of Athletes in Action, has known and worked with Dungy since the coach was a player and assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"It's really shooting a positive message across the bow, certainly in the NFL," Pugh said, "that you can be a Christian coach who really does live out Christian values and be very successful in terms of wins and losses."
Friday's USA Today contained a full-page ad signed by Dungy and Lovie Smith that invited readers to learn more about Jesus Christ. The ad points people to the Beyond the Ultimate Web site , (http://www.beyondtheultimate.org) which was produced in association with Athletes in Action.
"As of 4 p.m. (Sunday) the Web site had received 171,000 hits and 500 people made decisions for Christ," Pugh said. "And that was before the game had started."
Dungy will be the keynote speaker at IFI's Friend of the Family banquet in March.
"Each year, the Family Institute hosts a dinner and we present an award to a national leader who is helping to strengthen the family," Curt Smith said. "Last year, I'm proud to say, we honored Shirley Dobson, and this year we'll be honoring Coach Dungy with our Friend of the Family Award."
FOR MORE INFORMATION To learn more about the March 20 Friend of the Family banquet in Indianapolis, visit the Indiana Family Institute Web site .
(NOTE: Referral to Web sites not produced by Focus on the Family is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites' content.)

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