Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts. They were clearly the better team in Super Bowl XLI last night. In the first Super Bowl played in the rain, they executed all the plays they needed to, converted first downs at ease, and wore down a Bears defense known for wearing down offenses.
The Colts defense dominated the line of scrimmage, forcing Rex Grossman to make snap decisions. Unfortunately for the Bears, their quarterback either 1) made bad decisions or 2) there were no good plays available. This loss wasn’t Rex’s fault alone, but there are 11 players on the field and he was their leader.
My big problem with the night came after the game ended.
Colts coach Tony Dungy (who is perhaps the most-deserving coach this side of Marty Schottenheimer to win a Super Bowl) held up the Vince Lombardi trophy and addressed the crowd about the character of his team.
He then talked about how proud he was to be a Christian coach and to coach “the lord’s way.” And that’s where he lost me.
I have nothing but respect for Dungy and the way he conducts himself in a respectful, professional manner at all times. He has more self-control in his pinky finger than most of us do in our entire bodies.
But to say that he coaches “the lord’s way,” to me, mixes too much together.
It’s safe to say (and the ratings numbers back this up), that football is the secular equivalent of religion in America, and the Super Bowl is the most important gathering of the year. No other event accrues the massive viewership numbers in the days of Tivo, On Demand, Digital Cable, iPod, and every other form of distraction.
Therefore, one can conclude that the Super Bowl brings together the nation like no other event can even dream of doing.
Watching that speech unfurl last night, it felt more dividing than uniting.
Let me reiterate, I have nothing but respect and admiration for how Coach Dungy lives his life.
But the words he said sounded to me like he was holding Christians who coach football at a higher plane than non-Christian coaches.
The closest most football coaches generally get to the Bible is spewing fire and brimstone rhetoric generally seen in the Book of Revelations (Check out the Jew knowing the New Testament!).
If all people are G-d’s creation, wouldn’t that mean Dungy and Ditka would be on the same level? Even if one uses “curse” words and one doesn’t?
Four-letter words may be viewed as obscene, but are they SINFUL? Are you a bad person for using language that some segment of society deems “dirty?”
I am no religious authority (although six years of orthodox Jewish Day School and six years of conservative 3-nights-a-week Hebrew school have given me a good background), so I won’t even try to answer those questions.
What I will say is this: The Super Bowl is not a religious pulpit. You may have won the NFL’s championship trophy, which is the ultimate team sport prize in our era. But don’t use that platform to spread any gospel. I know it’s America, and we have the right of free speech. But there is a time and a place. You had me as part of your captive audience. Then you lost me.
Again, congratulations to the Colts, who deserve (and get from me) unlimited respect on and off the field as football players and human beings. Just the wrong place and the wrong time to send the message that was sent.