THE BLOG

The First Black Coach In Sports On The Super Bowl

02/04/2007 01:45 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

In 1967, my Dad, NBA Legend Bill Russell, broke the color barrier becoming the first black coach in professional sports. The following season, he lead the Boston Celtics to victory becoming the first black coach to win a professional championship.

When my Dad was asked what he thought about having Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy break the glass ceiling in the Super Bowl, he told Metro Boston this:

"It makes me extraordinarily proud to be part of the coaching profession. They have conducted their careers and their lives with dignity and success."

Proud daughter that I am, I have to brag for a moment and say that I think that quote also applies to my Dad.

Smith said this about trailblazing winning coaches:

"They made it a lot easier for us to be in this position. I also think a lot about John Thompson, Bill Russell - black coaches who were able to win it for the first time. Again, and I speak for Tony Dungy when I say this, we are just happy as much as anything to lead our two teams with an opportunity to win it all."

Why is important for blacks to see this kind of progress? I think it's like Arianna talking about being "fearless" for the next generation of women. Dungey sums it up nicely here:

"The first black head coach in the modern era of professional football, Art Shell, was still eight years from being hired, so to think that Dungy and Smith will stand on the sidelines at Pro Player Stadium in Miami and coach their teams in the Super Bowl is something Dungy understands will have reverberations well beyond the game itself.

"There were black coaches who were exceptional back then, but they never got to do what we've done," Dungy said. "They could have taken a team to the Super Bowl, but they never got the chance.

"My generation of kids who watched the Super Bowl never saw African- American coaches. You could be a player. You couldn't necessarily be the quarterback. Then you saw Doug Williams play and win a Super Bowl at quarterback in January 1988 and they thought they could be a quarterback.

"Now maybe a young kid will watch this game and think, 'Maybe I can be the coach one day.' That's special. We're all a product of our environment and our past.""

In addition to being very proud of my Dad and his achievements, I have to agree with him on this:

"My hope is that someday soon we will get to the point where no one notices the ethnicity of winning coaches, but rather the merits of their success."

I know we certainly aren't there yet but it's nice to dream about what we can achieve.

Read more about Black Coachs here.