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Celebrating The Winners and Doers of Great Things!
on July 10, 2014
David Maraniss wrote a moving, heart-rending book about one of the greatest leaders of all time. Vince Lombardi was deeply admired and despised as the biggest S.O.B., many times by the same person. I was captivated by the circumstances of his life coming together at just the right time to build one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time. But so often, up to that point, he wondered when his chance would come and "why not me?" I was moved by his commitment to excellence and his concern that the abuse of freedom would one-day lead to the decay of our great country. But the part of the book that most moved me was his strained relationship with his son, Vincent. I can relate to being the son of a father who rarely showed affection as I was growing up. It's not any fault of his own, rather a cultural influence passed from generations of men before him. He did what they taught. Is it good or bad? That becomes a judgement and a trap. My dad's parenting tactics were perfectly what they were. Maraniss does and excellent job painting the picture of what it's like growing up in home where the father is dedicated to his life outside the home, but is missing in action inside the home. The pain and the sadness of being the spouse and children of a 60's era father is expertly woven into the retelling of the interaction between Vince and Vincent. Ultimately, the question is resolved by Vincent as one of forgiveness, not approval. I was moved by the tale of building the Green Bay Packers into a powerhouse. The play by play narrative is compelling and engaging without being overly dramatic or drawn out. Maraniss avoids the trap of most sports books and movies with a re-telling of the plays and championship moments while avoiding excessive detail. But my favorite part of the book was Maraniss' walk through the dying process of Vince Lombardi. I could see him lying in the hospital with uncharacteristically long hair and bushy eyebrows. I could hear his non-sensical yammering to players who were not there in the room with him. I could feel the air of desperation that accompanies a terminal diagnosis held against the will to live and "whip this thing." Maraniss walked me through the process of saying goodbye that I went through recently with my mother and one of my best friends from graduate school. I was brought back to the confusion of seeing someone you know well and love that only somewhat resembles who you knew. Sons and fathers, this is a must read about life, relationships and the perspective of growing up from each side. It's about celebrating the winners and the doers of great things. It's about life, excellence, and doing what you can, where you are with what you have. It's about doubt and perseverence. It's about resisting the unpleasantness of dying and the regret of unfinished business. Men, get this book. It's that good.