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When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi Paperback – Bargain Price, September 3, 2000
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As coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967, Vince Lombardi turned perennial losers into a juggernaut, winning back-to-back NFL titles in 1961 and 1962, and Superbowls I and II in 1966 and 1967. Stern, severe, sentimental, and paternal, he stood revered, reviled, respected, and mocked--a touchstone for the '60s all in one person. Which adds up to the myth we've been left with. But who was the man? That's the question Pulitzer Prize-winner David Maraniss tackles. It begins with Lombardi's looming father, a man as colorful as his son would be conservative. Still, from his father Vince Lombardi learned a sense of presence and authority that could impress itself with just a look. If a moment can sum up and embrace a man's life--and capture the breadth of Maraniss's thoroughness--it is one that takes place off the field when the Packers organization decides to redecorate their offices in advance of the new head coach's arrival: "During an earlier visit," Maraniss reports, "he had examined the quarters--peeling walls, creaky floor, old leather chairs with holes in them, discarded newspapers and magazines piled on chairs and in the corners--and pronounced the setting unworthy of a National Football League club. 'This is a disgrace!' he had remarked." In one moment, one comment, Lombardi announced his intentions, made his vision and professionalism clear, and began to shake up a stale organization. It reveals far more about the man than wins and losses, and is the kind of moment Maraniss uses again and again in this superb resurrection of a figure who so symbolized a sporting era and sensibility. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In the history of American sports, no coach has been mythologized as much as the Green Bay Packers' Vince Lombardi (who has been immortalized with, among other tributes, a rest station on the New Jersey Turnpike). Yet this fine biography from a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Washington Post is a blast of cool air among the usually overheated roster of sports biographies. From Lombardi's formative years as a player and coach at Fordham University through assistantships with West Point and the Giants and, finally, to his tenure as head coach of the Packers, Maraniss presents a portrait of a complicated human being who was a great teacher but a mediocre listener, an effective psychologist despite being rife with flaws. Though he often got hurt as a college athlete, Lombardi, as a coach, scorned players who couldn't withstand injury. His relationship with his wife and children was less than ideal. But Maraniss doesn't succumb to any reductive assessments of Lombardi as "tragic" or "heroic." As legend suggests, Lombardi was indeed a great motivator, but his success also derived from a cerebral approach to the game. The book's true punch comes from its myriad subplots: a hero from one small town (early 20th-century Brooklyn) revitalizing another in the Upper Midwest, or professional football and Lombardi coming into their own at roughly the same time. Maraniss spends far too much time on people and events whose influence on Lombardi isn't made apparent, and he relies too much on other sportswriters' descriptions of games. Yet like its subject, the book, for all its flaws, is intricate, ambitious and satisfying. First serial to Vanity Fair.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The moribund state which the Packers franchise was in the late 1950's is shown in complete detail. Lombardi brought the will and passion to win into that team and they have been a standard of excellence ever since. The dedication that Lombardi expected from his players and himself is something that all can try to emulate.
However, Maraniss also gives us the human cost of Lombardi's success on the field. He paid a heavy cost to become the man the myth and the legend. He fought constantly with his wife, and he did not get to know his son. That is a tragedy that seems to flow from his drive to greatness. He was inward, and unwilling to confide in almost anything, yet he was also an iconoclast in the 1960's. For all the talk that the 1960's were the decade of the 'me' generation, Lombardi stands as the call to a prior time. A man who understood that nothing great can come from a lack of hard work. That the fruit of victory is sown in the garden of sweat and tears. That monetary gain is only one aspect of a happy life. And indeed he lives on as a symbol of greatness that we all hope to emulate, if we can bear the burden and pay the cost.
I was too young to witness the legend of Vince Lombardi, I was born in 1967. His influence and leadership is something that is of a bygone era as many players today are pampered and spoiled in the Sports world. I cannot imagine what Mr Lombardi would think about this era of pampered stars that seem to have more power and sway than their coaches now. Players today wilt at leadership, you need to go no farther than the Jim Harbaugh at San Francisco to see what I mean.
As a country we need leadership like this and football needs someone like Vince Lombardi, I greatly appreciate reading this book and trying to appreciate what he meant to a sport that would be unrecognizable to so many of the pioneers that made it what it is today.
Not only is there great insight into the game at a time when the NFL was being formed but you also get a good feel for how Lombardi was such a great innovative coach and leader. I took from the book how the need for someone in a leadership role needs to maintain a strong authoritarian presence amongst those they oversee, easing up when needed but never falling in to being 'one of the boys' as I see happens all too often in the corporate world. There is a comparison in the book after Lombardi leaves Green Bay between him and his successor, who was not seen as being forceful or hard, and how this lax, easy-going attitude, caused the players to have a lack of respect for him and as a result play with almost half a heart, contrasting how Lombardi maintained strict order with players and in return made them play better and be better. Interviews relayed throughout the book from these players back up how this Lombardi attitude made them better players and people.
As far as the writing style, it was great and the easy flow and attention to detail that was used just heightened the read all that much more.
I recommend this book to any Football or biography fan as well as to anyone who enjoys reading about someone who made a difference. Five stars all the way.