Coach Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts isn't the only coach praying on his team as they head into the Super Bowl next weekend. He is joined by assistant coach Clyde Christensen.
And Christensen's father, Dick, an ordained Evangelical Covenant Church minister, will be backing him and the team in Miami, Fla., from California.
"For as long as I can remember, Clyde has been sports-oriented," said Christensen’s father, according to the Evangelical Covenant Church. "If we lined up a lot of toys for him to play with, he would always go for a ball."
The younger Christensen had coached football at the college level for 16 years before Dungy offered him an assistant coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Christensen and Dungy knew each other through Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the largest Christian sport organization in the nation.
Christensen moved to the Colts as wide receivers coach with Dungy six years later.
"Working as a coach in the NFL has been incredibly exciting, challenging and demanding, but it doesn’t compare to the responsibility, effort, and fulfillment of trying to be a top-flight dad," said Christensen.
Both he and Dungy have been leaders in All Pro Dad, a program of the nonprofit Family First.
Clyde was adopted into the Christensen family shortly after his birth in 1958. His father will be cheering for him from a distance next weekend.
Coach Dungy's testimony
This is the first time Dungy and Christensen are coaching the Colts in NFL's marquee game. Dungy and rival coach and close friend Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears are the first black head coaches to make it to the Super Bowl.
Dungy grew up going to church with his Christian family, he said in a testimony, according to the FCA. But after becoming successful in athletics, Christ ranked low in his list of priorities.
"I wasn’t a bad guy," Dungy said, "but sports was definitely No. 1, followed by school and family. Christ was way down the list."
When he signed on with the Steelers in 1977, however, he saw a "different" group of players compared to those he had usually been around.
"They were very focused players who loved football and Jesus," he said. "Their decisions were based on Christ, because they believed He has the answers for everything.
"They helped me straighten out my priorities and start including Jesus in my life."
Standing one week away from Super Bowl XLI, Dungy calls the Bible life's playbook.
"It provides answers to the biggest questions life has," he stated.
"If we follow the guidance in the Bible, we will be winners in the eyes of God. Success in God’s eyes involves having peace of mind, spiritual victory and an inner happiness that circumstances cannot change."