Two good friends who happen to be NFL coaches are already front-and-center in this Super Bowl, and kickoff hasn���t even taken place yet.
Lovie Smith became the first black head coach to make it all the way to the NFL's marquee game when his Chicago Bears won the NFC championship on Sunday. About four hours later, his pal and mentor, Tony Dungy, joined him there when his Indianapolis Colts took the AFC title. For the first time in the big game's 41-year history, not one but two black head coaches will be on the sidelines.
"It means a lot," Dungy said after a 38-34 victory over the New England Patriots. "I'm very proud to represent African-American coaches."
Smith was one of Dungy's assistants when the two were with Tampa Bay from 1996-2000, and they established a friendship that has grown in the years since. Now, the two buddies will go to the Super Bowl -- with the chance to win a championship.
Smith and Dungy already have sealed a huge victory for minority coaches, regardless of who brings home a championship.
Perhaps Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said it best, "I'm happy for both coaches. I hope we get to the point we don't have to hear about it."
(Photo provided by Getty Images, taken by Scott Halleran)