EDITOR’S NOTE: Art Stricklin, a sports correspondent for Baptist Press and director of ministry relations for Marketplace Ministries in Dallas, is reporting daily from Phoenix with exclusive coverage for BP readers about the spiritual side of Super Bowl XLII.
PHOENIX (BP)–CBS lead announcer Jim Nantz held the microphone when Indianapolis Colts Tony Dungy spoke of his faith in Jesus Christ before a national audience after winning last year’s Super Bowl.
Nantz took some heat.
“When I interviewed Tony Dungy last year at the Super Bowl, I got some flak about allowing him to talk about his personal faith,” Nantz told Baptist Press before the annual “Legends for Charity” dinner Jan. 31 in which he received the “Pat Summerall Award” for character, integrity and leadership.
“But I don’t think we should be so jaded or cynical that we don’t focus on the goodness of people and their faith,” Nantz said.
“I think Tony Dungy, like John Wooden, has a true saintly quality …. They have showed how a person can live your life the right way, to be a man’s man and to live a life to honor others.”
Nantz credited his parents and an unnamed pastor for learning how to tell a story that can inspire an audience. “There is faith in my delivery and transparency in my heart,” Nantz said of his broadcast style. “I have one voice to tell a story to help uplift others.”
The sold-out dinner, held in conjunction with each year’s Super Bowl, benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Nantz, CBS’ signature voice for major sports events, said he was “honored and humbled to receive this award for what is so important in my life, telling a positive story for integrity and honesty to millions of viewers out there.”
Summerall, who received the initial award named in his honor five years ago, credited Nantz for the positive and upbeat spirit he shows in what can be a tough network TV world. “To have the honor to present him an award that bears my name is a very special moment for me,” Summerall told the audience. Summerall is a member of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church.
Nantz voiced thanks to Summerall, who formerly was CBS’ top sports announcer, saying, “It’s such an honor to receive this award from my good friend Pat Summerall with so many of my friends, family and colleagues here.”
Among those on hand for the evening were Andy Rooney of “60 Minutes” fame and former Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Ditka.
Previous winners of the award include broadcasters James Brown and Greg Gumble.
Nantz’s first book, “Always By My Side,” slated for release this spring, will focus his relationship with his father, Jim Sr., who is at an extended care facility for Alzheimer’s patients in Houston.