The annual college football bowling season is full of surprises and spectacular moments. Famous coaches have had some memorable comments about America’s most popular sport, and here are some from legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who is considered by many to be the best of the best.
Lombardi’s head coaching record in the National Football League was second to none. In 9 years with the Green Bay Packers, Lombardi’s regular season win-loss percentage was 73% (96-34-6), his postseason was 90% (9-1), and his total was 75. %(105-35-6) .
He led a 1-10-1 team in 1958 to an NFL title in 3 years and won 5 NFL titles in 9 years (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967) and three consecutive titles. He led the Packers to their first two Super Bowl titles in 1966 and 1967.
Lombardi’s discipline was legendary. A lifelong Catholic, he spent 4 years at Cathedral Preparatory Seminary to become a Catholic priest before becoming a standout football player at St. Francis Preparatory High School.
A 5-foot-8, 185-pound little guard, he was offered and accepted a football scholarship to Fordham University in the Bronx to play for “Sleepy” Jim Crowley, one of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame in the 1920s. He would become part of the “Seven Granite Blocks” who kept Fordham’s opponents scoreless multiple times during a 25-match winning streak.
After coaching at Fordham, Lombardi became West Point’s offensive line coach under another legendary head coach, Colonel Red Blaik. Lombardi then became the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants, working with defensive coordinator Tom Landry and head coach Jim Lee Howell, before becoming Green Bay’s head coach in 1959.
Lombardi was 59 years old when he died of cancer in 1970. Adult men and Hall of Fame football players openly wept at his funeral.
Here are some of Vince Lombardi’s best-known quotes:
“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?”
“I firmly believe that the finest moment of any man, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked with all his heart in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle, victorious.”
“There’s no place for second place. There’s only one place in my game and that’s first place. I’ve finished second twice in my time at Green Bay and I don’t want to finish second anymore.”
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
“Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”
“The harder you work, the harder it is to give up.”
“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”
“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.”
“If you can accept losing, you can’t win.”
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we pursue perfection we can achieve excellence.”
“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
“Success requires unity of purpose.”
“It’s not if you get knocked down, it’s if you get up.”
“It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when you’re number one. What you have to have is faith and discipline when you’re not a winner.”
“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”
“We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time.”
“Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers are all about. They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved each other.”
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, or a lack of knowledge, but a lack of will.”
“Coaches that can lay out plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones that win get inside their player and motivate him.”
Here are some quotes from Lombardi players:
“When Lombardi said ‘sit down,’ we weren’t looking for a chair.” – Forrest Gregg, Hall of Fame tackle.
“He prepared us so well and motivated us so well that I felt like he was a part of me on the pitch.” Fuzzy Thurston.
“He pushed you to the limit of your endurance and then beyond. And if there was reserve there, well, he found it too.” Henry Jordan, Hall of Fame defensive tackle.
“It made us better than we thought we could be.” Jerry Kramer.
“Coach Lombardi showed me that by working hard and using my mind, I could overcome my weakness to the point of being one of the best.” Bart Starr, Hall of Fame quarterback.
“The fear in my mind was not him, but that for some reason he would not be part of the team and would be with this man.” Forest Gregg.
“He made you a believer. He told you what the other team was going to do, and he told you what you had to do to beat them, and he was always right.” Willie Davis, Hall of Fame defensive back.
(Editor’s note: I have read and studied one of the best Lombardi biographies: When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss, I highly recommend his book as a great read.)
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley