Dungy, Manning bask in Super Bowl glory

By John Pezzullo PA SportsTicker Pro Football Editor

MIAMI (Ticker)—The day after his greatest triumph, Tony Dungy sounded like a coach who wants to guide the Indianapolis Colts to another title.

Dungy became the first black coach to win an NFL championship on Sunday night when the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in Super Bowl XLI.

Peyton Manning, the only quarterback in NFL history to begin a career with nine 3,000-yard passing seasons, earned the Pete Rozelle Trophy as Super Bowl MVP after completing 25-of-38 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown.

Dungy and Manning admitted to operating on “zero sleep” as they addressed the media Monday morning in the news conference honoring the coach of the Super Bowl-winning team and the MVP.

Speculation swirled during Super Bowl week that Dungy would possibly retire if the Colts won the Super Bowl. But that does not appear to be the case with the coach who smiled for the cameras while holding the Lombardi Trophy on Monday morning.

“After celebrating with the players and coaches, I know I still have a lot of passion and a lot of enthusiasm for the game,” Dungy said. “We will be the hunted next year, and we understand that. It will be a challenge and a challenge I look forward to helping the guys through.”

Dungy played on a Super Bowl-winning team with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978, but had never been to one in 15 years as an assistant coach and 10 years as a coach before this season. He compiled a record of 114-62 and made the playoffs eight straight seasons - three with Tampa Bay and five with Indianapolis - before breaking the 40-year barrier for black coaches.

“It’s a very, very proud moment for me,” Dungy said. “I feel honored to be the first one to carry that mantle forward and I feel like we’re going through a process that is going to change the way football is looked at, especially with young kids.

“I know when I was young watching Super Bowls I thought about being a player in the game and how great that would be. I never really thought of being a coach in the Super Bowl, it just didn’t seem realistic. And I think now it will seem realistic to young African-American kids and that’s great.”

If the Colts lost on Sunday, then Dungy’s protege Lovie Smith would have become the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. Smith worked as linebackers coach under Smith with Tampa Bay from 1996-2000. Smith took over as coach of the Bears in 2004.

A two-time NFL MVP and a seven-time Pro Bowler, Manning finally earned a Super Bowl ring in his ninth season.

He got plenty of help from his teammates on Sunday. The running back tandem of Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai combined for 190 yards rushing. Addai also caught 10 passes for 66 yards.

The Colts also forced five turnovers, including a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Kelvin Hayden.

“For me, this was not a personal mission,” Manning said. “I was proud to be a part of this team and it feels good when you work hard, not only this season but really your whole career, to be the best player you can be and have a chance to play on a special team and accomplish your ultimate goal of winning a championship.”

This season, Manning posted a league-high 101.0 quarterback rating, completing 65 percent of his passes for 4,397 yards and 31 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

The only quarterback in NFL history with six consecutive 4,000-yard seasons (1999-2004), Manning has become the face of the NFL with a portfolio of endorsements. A Super Bowl title can only add to that list.

“I don’t think I need any (more) commercials at this point,” Manning said. “I’m just looking forward to our championship parade in Indianapolis and going to the Pro Bowl as a Super Bowl winner.”

The Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984 and had not won a championship since January 1971, when the franchise was located in Baltimore.

In the Super Bowl era, Manning joined Terry Bradshaw of Pittsburgh and Troy Aikman of Dallas as the only quarterbacks to lead the team that drafted them first overall to a championship.

Manning selected the Escalade over three other Cadillac models for winning the MVP. He drew some laughs from the media by writing ‘Loaded’ above his choice.

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Updated Monday, Feb 5, 2007