When will the subject of race no longer be noticed? In time, Wooten says.
"We were that way when we were talking about the quarterbacks," Wooten said.
After Doug Williams won and Steve McNair and Donovan McNabb played in Super Bowls, Wooten said, "We don't talk about it anymore. That's what we want to see happen throughout."
Like Smith and Edwards, Vikings' defensive coordinator Tomlin was first hired by Dungy. Wooten looks forward to the time when Tony Dungy's coaching tree becomes the bigger story.
"When the day comes when they're talked about the way (Eric) Mangini and (Bill) Belichick are talked about with (Bill) Parcells, without the color description in front of them, then we know we've won," Wooten said.
If the Super Bowl is indeed Smith vs. Dungy, Wooten might discover a more apt description would be "colorless." Wooten calls them "two of the finest people you ever want to be around," but Wooten won't be trying to glean catchy sound bites or quotes during the two-week preview.
Wooten said it's more than coincidence that Smith and Dungy have similar low-key personalities. Get used to it.
"We're saying to them, 'You need to help train these guys. You need to show them.' And that's why you're not going to see our coaches whooping and hollering and cussing and kicking. You're not going to see that, because that's not the way we want it to be," Wooten said.
Hiring minority coaches is only the first step toward real equality. No more certain sign of progress was in the recent firings of Shell in Oakland and Green in Arizona-both fired for the second time, thus joining the previously exclusive recycle circle.
Before Green's Vikings in 1998, Shell had become the first black coach to get within one game of the Super Bowl when his 1990 Los Angeles Raiders lost at Buffalo 51-3.
Green's 2000 Vikings went to New York to play the Giants for the NFC title and lost 41-0.
Dungy's 2003 Colts went to New England and lost the AFC title 24-14.
Shell, Green, Dungy, Edwards, Smith, Lewis, Crennel, and Philadelphia's and Green Bay's Ray Rhodes are the only African-Americans to coach in the league since Chicago's Fritz Pollard coached the Akron Pros in 1921, so even getting to six title games since Shell was first hired in 1989 is significant.
But now the Super Bowl awaits both Dungy and Smith.
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