Fifty years ago, Vince Lombardi took over the Green Bay Packers and revolutionized the game of football
Fall 2009 | Volume 59, Issue 3
It wasn’t necessarily that the Packers had better talent, though their talent was more than adequate (thanks in part to Lombardi’s personnel assessments). It wasn’t that they “wanted it more,” a common refrain in sports that is usually meaningless. The key was repetition. Rookies would come in first each summer to begin their indoctrination into the Lombardi system and the playbook. The veterans would show up maybe a week later, and they too would start from scratch.
Lombardi would hold up a ball and proclaim, ‘Gentlemen, this is a football.’” And wide receiver Max McGee, the designated cutup, would pipe up and say, “Slow down, would ya, Coach? You’re going too fast.” Then the frivolity would be over, and the Packers would set about learning the playbook from A to Z. More important, they would practice the plays endlessly, until they became reflexive.
“We may not know any more about football than most of the other coaches in the league,” Lombardi once said, according to Bob Rubin’s Green Bay’s Packers: Return to Glory. “But if we can put everything we know together so it makes good basic sense and then drill-drill-drill it into them . . . that kind of coaching can make winners out of losers.”
Adapted from The Official Vince Lombardi Playbook by Phil Barber. Copyright © 2009 by becker&mayer!, LLC. Used by permission of The Lyons Press.