One of the greatest football coaches of all time, Vincent Thomas Lombardi (1913-1970) was born on this day in Brooklyn, New York and inspired his players to chase perfection and catch excellence.
Lombardi's Green Bay Packers won NFL Championships in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967, an achievement never duplicated in the history of professional football.
"If winning isn't everything," he asked, "why do they keep score?"
A taskmaster who worked his players hard, his practices featured the dreaded grass drills, his training camp required grueling physical exertion. "If you cheat on the practice field, you'll cheat in the game," he said, "and if you cheat in the game, you'll cheat the rest of your life."
"He treated us all alike... like dogs," joked Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle Henry Jordan, who also said, "When Coach Lombardi says to sit down, I don't even look for a chair."
Lombardi was a man of strong faith who believed in discipline, sacrifice, and hard work. "There's only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything. I do, and I demand that my players do."
His players loved him. Through his unmatched skill as a motivator, Lombardi transformed benchwarmer Bart Starr into one of the greatest quarterbacks in history.
"I'll always feel sorry for those football players that never had the chance to play at least one game for Coach Lombardi," Starr once explained about his mentor.
"He made us all better than we thought we could be," agreed teammate Jerry Kramer, author of Instant Replay.
"Once a man has made a commitment to a way of life, he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It's something we call heart power," Lombardi said. "Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success."
More Vince LOMBARDI Quotations
By chasing perfection, you catch excellence.