He would use the word “love” of his players.
But, he was very gruff and tough. Beyond tough. A Stone-cold Leader. One of the 7 blocks of granite.
He demanded the best of each individual. He would do whatever it took to get his team to win.
The Commanding Leader
“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious.”
This Commanding Leader was an American football coach. He commanded his professional football team from 1959-67, winning five league championships during his nine years. In that dominating era, this commanding leader’s team posted an incredible record in the post-season victories of 9–1, the loss coming in the first of those games, a championship game. Never again did this commanding leader’s team lose a Championship game: losing was not an option in his book, and his players knew it.
In January 1959, at age 45, this commanding leader, Vincent T. Lombardi, Supervisor Guardian, accepted the position of Head Coach and General Manager of the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay had lost all but two of its 12 games (a win & a tie) that they played in the 1958 season. The Packers were considered the joke of the NFL. This commanding leader created punishing training regimens and expected absolute dedication and effort from his players. The 1959 Packers were an immediate improvement, finishing at 7–5. The next year his team went to the Championship game — next years after that, Championship seasons. Lombardi was attributed to as saying “Winning is not everything, it’s the only thing.” He never accepted anything but a 100% effort from himself and his players.
Supervisor Guardians are highly social and community-minded, with many rising to positions of responsibility in their school, church, industry, or civic groups. Supervisors are generous with their time and energy, and very often belong to a variety of service clubs, lodges, and associations, supporting them through steady attendance, but also taking an outspoken leadership role. Supervisors like to take charge of groups and are comfortable issuing orders. They are cooperative with their own superiors, and they would like cooperation from the people working under them. [Please Understand Me II]
In the Lombardi trinity, God, family and the Green Bay Packers were what mattered. Lombardi, who attended daily mass and raised two children with his wife Marie, tried to find a balance among the trinity’s three components. He didn’t succeed, but he tried. Football was his mistress.
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
Supervisors are unbelievably hard-working. Even as children they are industrious, and they usually respect their parents as authority figures. In school Supervisors are often model students, dutifully following directions, doing all their homework, doing it thoroughly, and on time. Above all else, they wish to do what they are supposed to do, and they rarely question the teacher’s assignments, method of instruction, standards, or authority. And their industry and perseverance only become more important to them as they grow into adulthood and take on the responsibilities of job and family. [Please Understand Me II]
Lombardi calculated how his treatment of a player affected the rest of the team, gauging how that treatment affected the team, always making the team come first. If pushing a player almost to the breaking point helped the player perform better, then Lombardi would do it. On the other hand, Bart Starr, the quarterback, who thought any open criticism, undermined his authority and leadership, Lombardi would talk to him in private and hash out problems. Hornung, who Lombardi regarded like a son, took Lombardi verbal abuse with equanimity, so other players figured if Hornung could take it, they could. All the players on the Green Bay Packers simultaneously both loved and hated Vince Lombardi. The sonofabitch made them Champions.
A Lombardi Award is awarded annually to the best college football lineman or linebacker. As a college football player at Fordham University, Vince Lombardi was an undersized guard (5’8″ 185 lb.) Nonetheless, he became one of the Seven Blocks of Granite, a nickname given to the Fordham University football team’s offensive line. As a coach, the Block of Granite, Lombardi was no nonsense, demanding taskmaster, teaching his players to execute plays to perfection. Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice – and compared to Lombardi’s punishing practices, the games were fun. He was credited with “Lombardi sweep” designed for Paul Hornung, halfback for the Packers. This was a play that he had originally developed with the Giants, as offensive assistant coach, for Frank Gifford that would become famous as the “Packer power sweep.” This play that opposing teams knew was coming but could not stop: power football with perfected execution.
Vince Lombardi went on to accomplish a 105–35–6 record as head coach (.750); and he never suffered a losing season. He led the Packers to a still-unmatched three consecutive NFL championships in 1965, 1966, and 1967; winning the first two Super Bowls, solidifying his place in history as one of, if not the greatest coach in football history. The Vince Lombardi Trophy is the ultimate in National Football league; it is awarded to the Superbowl champs each year.