The Indianapolis Colts, led by MVP quarterback Payton Manning, defeated the Chicago Bears, 29-17, to win Super Bowl XLI. In the spirit of African Heritage Month, history was made as Tony Dungy became the first African-descended coach to win the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy. Dungy's counterpart & good friend, Lovie Smith, joined him in the record books as the only African-descended head coaches to vie for the NFL championship. Additionally, Dungy is the only the third athlete to both play & coach on a winning team.
As a Chicago native, my heart was with the Bears, who, under Smith's calm & confident tutelage, have engineered back to back playoff seasons. Before the season started, I boldly predicted both teams would face-off for the big dance. I was well aware of the powerful cultural significance this could represent, though I suspected most of the media, as well as both coaches, would minimize their hue by suggesting, "they just happen to be black." Does Tom Landry, Chuck Noll or Bill Walsh just happen to be white? I don't think so...Malcolm X once said, "Black people are the only people in this country who are expected to lose their identity."
Some folks - not among them Cornel West - lamented how they'd long for the day when race wouldn't matter. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently shared in his historic 'I Have A Dream' speech, "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judge by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Well, my father, born the day before Dr. King, once told me America is a lie. A big lie: my father does not benefit from lying to his son about something so fundamental as our right to self-preservation, the first law of nature.
I love sports. My favorite sporting events to watch include basketball, boxing, soccer, tennis & track & field. Admittedly, football became more interesting as the playoffs rolled around the corner. On many Sundays it was simply an escape from my non-existent social life. Both the Bears & the Colts started the season with nine consecutive wins. In fact, the current Chicago team was being compared to the '86 Super Bowl squad which featured future hall-of-famer, the late, great Walter Payton, a ferocious defense coordinated by Buddy Ryan, their 'spunky qb' Jim McMahon & a fiery coach & current ESPN commentator Mike Ditka, who preceded Dungy as a Super Bowl player/coach victor.
When both teams eventually lost their first game of the season, the pressure to go undefeated was released from a white society obsessed with perfection (read: blond hair/blue eyes). The Bears finished the season 14-2, despite the media tormenting of quarterback Rex Grossman, who was publicly lauded by Smith, a loyal man hellbent on riding Grossman as far as the season would take him. Meanwhile, the Colts, led by a potent offense & gritty defense, were constantly being questioned about Manning's place in history because he's never taken them to the promised land.
The game began with Bears all-pro rookie sensation Devin Hester running back the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, a Super Bowl record as no game started in such dynamic fashion. The Colts later responded with a touchdown strike from Manning to all-pro wide receiver Reggie Mayne, no longer in the shadows of his all-pro teammate wide receiver Marvin Harrison. This year, the talented tandem became the first pair of receivers to finish the season with over 1000 receiving yards & 10 touchdowns. Manning was shaky in the first half, but recovered to lead his squad to a satisfying win, as the Bears offense was unable to penetrate the Colts' spirited defense.
I'd like to see a Super Bowl where the opposing quarterback are both African-descended men. A couple of years ago, current Baltimore Ravens shotcaller Steve McNair led the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. Though he gave a valiant effort, he ended a Montana-like drive one yard short of victory. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb would go on to the title game, only lose to Patriots qb Tom Brady, who has three Super Bowl rings in his young, but highly celebrated career. Will it be Vince Young? Byron Leftwich? Charlie Batch? Only time will tell. Alas, I'll be home watching...trusting my ancestors to see me safely home, or, at least, to sleep.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.