Tag Archives: Vince Lombardi

Outside of Business Books for a Day – My Vote for the Best


With the flurry of collegiate bowl games and the onset of professional football playoffs, my attention today turns away from business to sports.

Sports has long been a popular arena for writers, including from those who cover the various events, as well as those who coach and play it.  Sports has also been an increasingly popular source for business analogies – “you hit a home run,’ “that presentation was a hole-in-one,” “it was a slam-dunk in there today,” and so forth.

If you were to ask me what my all-time favorite sports book is, it would not take very long to get you an answer.   My choice is Instant Replay:  The  Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer (Doubleday, 1968).  In that book, the former offensive guard for the Packers revealed in-depth and behind-the-scenes information about life with legendary coach Vince Lombardi.  Of interest to Dallas Cowboys fans is the revelation that he believed he may have been offsides on the famous goal-line plunge by quarterback Bart Starr that gave the Packers a last-minute victory in the famed 1967 Ice Bowl.  How we have wished that they could have been pushed back five yards!

The book was republished in 2006, and that edition is still available on Amazon.com.   But, for me, I read the book as a teenager, and I remember many parts of it vividly.

One other note about this book:  like many works that athletes authored, this one was “as told to,” and the target was Dick Schapp.   He was one of the great sports writers and interviewers of modern times.  Even the unpredictable and volatile basketball coaching legend Bobby Knight admired him.  Sports fans throughout the the world miss him. 

That’s my vote.  What about you?

Vince Lombardi, Leader of Men – He Made Them Better; He Loved Them

Think about this.  To succeed, you have to hire the right/best people.  Then, these people have to reach their highest level of competency; they have to get better, and then keep getting better, at what they do, constantly; they have to identify their weaknesses and overcome them; they have to work well with others — as a team.

So, where do we go to learn how to get all of these steps right; hire the right/best people, make them better; help them become a close, committed team.  One name that may be a true exemplar, worthy of study, is the name Vince Lombardi.

Two keys:

1)   He made his players better.

2)  He loved his players.

These are two key points that come through in a new play based on Vince Lombardi’s life and career.  And, in this segment on the play on NPR by Mike Pesca (Weekend Edition, Saturday), it is clear that a whole new theater audience, notably different from the typical theater audience, is attending this play:  people with Packers jerseys and helmets in hand, former players who laugh, and cry, within the first five minutes.  This is a wonderful segment!

Here are a couple of key excerpts (from the transcript), quotes from Dan Luria who plays Vince Lombardi, and from Judith Light, who plays his wife, Marie Lombardi:

Mr. LURIA: I’ll tell you one thing about his players, everyone one of them the first five minutes I’m on the floor laughing, and within five minutes every one of them had a tear in their eye. Did you see Sonny Jurgensen last night? He had tears in his eyes. They really love this guy. He made them better. He made them better.

Ms. JUDITH LIGHT (Actress): (as Marie Lombardi) He loved his players. And I don’t mean he just likes them an awful lot; he truly actually loves them.

Hire the right people.  Make them better.   Love them along the way.  This is the challenge of true leadership.  It always has been — it always will be.

{Click here to listen to this segment (it is about 5 1/2 minutes long), and read the transcript}.