Apparently the sports world didn’t get the message 20 years ago.
Quarterback Doug Williams thought his dominance in Super Bowl XXII might have eradicated the dangerous thought that festered in the minds of some fans, analysts and general managers alike.
The idea that blacks simply had an inherent athletic advantage, but not enough intellectual fortitude to take on leadership roles in the arena should have been gone a long time ago. But in 2001, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers handed Tony Dungy his walking papers after escorting the team to three straight playoff appearances. They said the playoff births weren’t good enough. Tampa Bay’s front office wanted Super Bowl trophies, not division banners.
Even now, Lovie Smith’s brilliantly underpaid coaching job of the 2006 season wasn’t good enough for Jerry Colangelo to extend Smith’s contract with the Chicago Bears.Well, doubters, is it good enough now?
Jerry do you now believe in Lovie’s genius, which was shown through the Bears’ beauty of a season? Tampa Bay, do you believe it wasn’t the best choice to show Dungy the exit now that he can add Superbowl champion to an already stellar resume?
Earlier this season, I was inspired to reach for the nearest cotton swab when my ears stumbled across the statement that Lovie Smith was the most underpaid coach in the NFL. And I applied a little more pressure to the invisible obstruction when I heard that the Bears had yet to offer him a new contract.Apparently leading the team to a rare playoff birth wasn’t sufficient evidence to merit a contract extension.
But early February would soon provide solace for me and anyone else who shared my baffled disposition. The sidelines of the Super Bowl would surely put a pin in the hideous thought of mental inferiority with athletic supremacy that hovered over our athletes.
Because no amount of speed, strength, or agility would take a football team that far.
Admittedly a Bears fan, I can’t say I was eager to see Dungy hoist the most coveted prize in football. But after my Bears went down in smoke to Dungy’s Colts, I realized what most of our community had realized weeks before.
I admit I was selfish. I believed the Super Bowl was about my city’s ambitions to litter the streets of Chicago with orange and navy confetti. I forgot my culture could hoist a banner of integrity regardless of who won.
So there you have it. It turns out we aren’t genetically predisposed to athletic dominance. It turns out we can be intellectual giants as well.
See Doug, they may finally get it after all.
Akeem Anderson is a sophomore newspaper student from Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.