This Day In History: February 4

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Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts becomes the first Black NFL head coach to win a Super Bowl. The victory marked the first time a Black head coach had reached the National Football League’s championship game—one that featured not just one, but two Black head coaches.

Super Bowl XLI pitted Dungy and his Colts against Lovie Smith, head coach of the Chicago Bears. The Bears shocked the Colts with a 92-yard kick return for a touchdown in the first 14 seconds of the game. Despite this demoralizing start, the Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning came back to defeat the Bears, 29-17. It was the Colts' first Super Bowl victory since 1971, when they played in Baltimore.

Dungy joined the Colts as head coach in 2003 and led the team to the playoffs three years running before their Super Bowl win in the 2006 season. He began his career in the NFL as a safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers, from 1977-1978. Although his playing career lasted only one more season, he quickly moved into coaching. Dungy worked his way up the coaching ranks as a defensive specialist, progressing from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave Dungy his first head coaching position in 1996. He achieved a cumulative record of 148-79-0 in his years as head coach, earning him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

When he was first hired as head coach in 1996, Tony Dungy was only the fourth Black head coach in the modern era of the NFL, following in the footsteps of Art Shell, Dennis Green and Ray Rhodes. Throughout his career, Dungy himself mentored many talented Black NFL coaches, including Lovie Smith, Herm Edwards, Jim Caldwell, Mike Tomlin and Leslie Frazier.

The Rooney Rule, introduced by the NFL in 2003, requires that teams must interview minority candidates for head coach and front office jobs. But in a professional sport where more than half of NFL players are Black, and most of the owners white, The Washington Post reports, the league still lags in recognizing and promoting Black coaching talent.