There is not much that can be written about Vince Lombardi that has not already been said previously.
A former high school coach (and teacher) Lombardi’s ascent to the pinnacle of coaching did not come easy. He paid his dues in the college ranks, serving as an assistant coach at both Fordham and Army before reaching the NFL.
He continued to pay his dues as an assistant coach for the New York Giants for another five years, helping the Giants win the NFL Championship in the process in 1956. A success yes, but not as a head coach.
This hard work and struggle would finally pay off, when on February 2, 1959, Lombardi was hired as Head Coach and General Manager of the Green Bay Packers.
And the rest is history.
Taking over a team which had won 1 game in 1958, Lombardi instilled a sense of winning that was felt immediately by the players, and the players responded. Turning in a 7-5 campaign in his first season as coach, the Packers first winning season in eleven years was just the beginning.
The Packers would win five titles in the next nine seasons under Lombardi. They were the greatest dynasty the NFL had ever seen, or has ever seen. Built on executing the simplist of plays with the maximum effort and precision, Lombardi was the architect of this greatness, never settling for anything but the very best on every play from every player.
He could scream at a player one minute for doing something wrong, and hug them the next minute for doing something right. His players loved him for it, and hated him simultaneously.
That is what made Lombardi a great coach, but more importantly, a great person, and why his impact is still felt to this day.
Vince Lombardi was a coach by trade, but in reality, he was a master psychologist. He was an expert at pushing his players to the absolute limit in order to get the very best out of them. Buttons were pressed so hard they would almost break.
He was obsessed with winning, and instilled this attitude in his players. All one needs to do is look at some of Lombardi’s most famous quotes to better understand this obsession:
“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will all be judged on one thing: the result.”
“Winning is not everything – but making the effort to win is.”
“Success demands singleness of purpose.”
“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?”
“Winning is not a sometime thing…it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while…you don’t do the right thing once in a while…you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit.”
Comments like this resonate on the football field. Demanding excellence in order to achieve the best possible results. Lombardi was an expert at this.
The drive for perfection. Demanding excellence. Obsessed with winning. Knowing when to exert authority and when to hold back. And a genuine love for his players. These are the things that made Vince Lombardi the best coach ever.
His legacy continues to be felt to this day, and will never cease.
Many have tried to emulate his style, and many have failed. Because there can be only one Vincent Thomas Lombardi.
Happy 100th birthday Coach Lombardi. And thank you-for the impact you had on the game of football, and the game of life.
For a list of quotes by made famous by Vince Lombardi, please visit vincelombardi.com
Please enjoy this tribute to Vince Lombardi from NFL Films:
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com and co-host of Cheesehead Radio. To contact John follow him on Twitter @jrehor or email [email protected]