First… if you have not watched A Football Life, Vince Lombardi, I highly recommend it. It is a combination of information from the David Maraniss biography, When Pride Still Mattered, and John Eisenberg’s book about Lombardi’s initial year in Green Bay, That First Season. It has lots of great film footage, quotes, and overall coaching information. It is a genealogy/ history of football coaching.
A couple of quick takeaways…
Three words that many coaches have trouble saying… me included.
“I need help”
Is it that we are too proud to admit a fault, or have too much hubris and think we know it all?
I know that I am not good at saying or admitting that I need help, and at times it has slowed my growth as a coach.
Vince Lombardi began coaching at St. Cecillia high school in New Jersey. He won 5 consecutive state titles before heading to Fordham and then West Point to coach with the legendary Red Blaik. After a successful stint there, he went to the NFL as an assistant coach with the New York Giants (a pretty good staff…. Lombardi ran the offense and Tom Landry ran the defense).
Coach Lombardi overcame his pride during his first year in the NFL.
Coach Lombardi struggled adapting his coaching style to the NFL… and by some accounts was on the verge of being (in the words of Frank Gifford) laughable. Coach Lombardi was not afraid to admit he needed help. One evening during his first training camp with the Giants, he went to the room of Gifford and his room-mate Charlie Conerly and asked “What am I doing wrong?” They visited and shared some insight, and according to Gifford, “the football information just poured out of him from that point on”.
If Coach Lombardi can admit that “I need help”, then it is something we probably all could do from time to time.
John Madden realized he did not “know it all” after attending a football clinic where Vince Lombardi was speaking on the Power Sweep.
In 1962 Madden was coaching at a California Junior College. He walked into Lombardi’s presentation and had a seat in the back.
“How stupid was that… Vince Lombardi was talking about the Power Sweep and I took a seat in the back row like in church”
Madden shared that Lombardi spoke for 8 hours… ON ONE PLAY, the Power Sweep…
“He talked for four hours… we took a lunch break, then came back and he spoke for four more hours. I walked out of that clinic and realized that I did not know a damn thing about football”
When we think we “know it all” and stop being lifetime learners, we are probably in trouble.
Here are a couple of clips of on Lombardi teaching the Power Sweep… classic
I highly recommend this show, as well as the books, When Pride Still Mattered, by David Maraniss, and That First Season, by Jim Eisenberg.
Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org