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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.
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on December 31, 2014
This man was driven to succeed, and did it in a very public way. However, the author reveals the private side of Mr Lombardi's life, and shows us that the man was in reality a manic depressive. This affected his family immensely, but we know him as a coaching legend, and his legend is not tarnished but rather given a full view in this book. His path to greatness was a struggle, given the racial stereotypes and prejudices of the times. One thing that comes to the fore is that Vincent Thomas Lombardi was an even-handed man when it came to racial tolerance, and only things that mattered to him was a man's performance on the football field and how he behaved in his own life. Furthermore, the man was a teacher, both in football and in the keys to success in life. Dave Maraniss does not magnify the man nor denigrates him, bit simply gives an honest appraisal of his life and what he meant to the legacy of the NFL and the people he influenced. This is worthwhile biography that is a great read.
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on December 31, 2014
Tremendous book about possibly the biggest influence on the game of football at a time when College football was king. Vince Lombardi exemplifies so much about not only the game of football in the infancy of the NFL, he was a man that transcended football and had a leadership style that many in the Corporate World of the Greatest Nation in the World embraced.
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.
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Enthusiast: Baseballon January 14, 2000
Though I'm strictly a baseball fan, I did follow Lombardi's Packers in the 1960's. This is not only the best of the Packer books, including the classic "Instant Replay", it is one of the very best books I have ever read on any subject. I liked it so much I ordered four extra copies for friends who are Packer fans. David Maraniss does a thorough job of research on Lombardi and portrays him as a human being, warts and all, instead of the icon that some make him out to be. Parts that stood out for me was how hard he personally took the suspension of Paul Hornung, which reminded him of Red Blaik's experience with cheating players at West Point. The continued demand of excellence took it toll on Lombardi, and he really left the Packer coaching job an exhausted man. The often told Jim Ringo story of his trade to Philadelphia didn't happen the way many books have told it. Lombardi often stressed the importance of God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order, but reality showed the order to be God, the Green Bay Packers, and family last. His immediate family suffered and his own children felt he was more affectionate with children of his players than he was with them. One also gets the feeling that he wasn't really disappointed with the showing of the Phil Bengston Packers, feeling that the slipage of the Packers was due to his not being there. Anecdotes of others notables such as Otto Graham, Packer announcers Ray Scott and Tony Canadeo, George Wilson, in addition to the Packer players make this a simply outstanding book to add to your library. Want to know how the Super Bowl got its name? It's an interesting story and it's here in the book. You can order the book here from Amazon for half the price you would pay in a book store. This book is one for your permanent library.
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on March 10, 2017
I honestly couldn't put the book down. I was never able to play organized football but my passion for it has only grown after reading this book. Incredibly well written and insightful into the greatest coach in history. The sacrifices he had to make as well as the glory that made him do it. A must read for any football fan!
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In his excellent biography of Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi, author David Maraniss has painted with his crisp and lively narrative an objective, balanced and candid portrait of a legend. Here is seen the complex, driven man that was Lombardi, "warts" and all -- the undersized and underrated lineman who, despite his admittedly limited football skills, used his unconquerable will to became one of Fordham's "Seven Blocks of Granite"; the ambitious and brilliant assistant coach, first for Army, and then for the New York Giants, always aware of his prodigious coaching talents, looking for twenty years to fulfill his destiny as a head coach; as Green Bay's head coach, the tyrannical taskmaster of the pro gridiron, gaining first fear, then grudging respect, and finally love from those who played for him; and the remote husband and father, unable to make the investment of time and emotion in his wife, son and daughter whom he loved. At Maraniss' hands, Vince Lombardi is sometimes easy to dislike, but always remains an admirable figure. This is a book which allows the reader to really get to know its subject. It is one of the finest biographies I've read in many years. Highly recommended!
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on January 29, 2014
I'm half way through the book. I've always been a Packer fan and have admired the man, the coach, the values he held, the extraordinary ability to inspire, the lessons he learned through life through those coaches with whom he worked and how he imparted these lessons to others. Of particular interest to me is how he could be so tough with his players, being demanding but still recognizing the importance of bringing out the best in eacn player and having the results speak for themselves. Many years ago, he was the guest speaker when Henry Jordan was named the "Man of the Year" for the Peninsula Sports Club in Newport News, VA. I had the wonderful experience of being there for that occasion. Whereas Jordan used to say that his coach treats "us all just alike- like dogs", this apparently was not true in that Coach Lombardi was a master in using his psychological gifts in handling all of his players and the results speak to that. His own players have been of a single accord through the years in their praise of the man and how he guided and influenced them all. It is doubtful that anyone will ever be able to surpass him as a coach and as a human being in the eyes of his fans and former players.
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on August 1, 2013
In my lifetime, Vince Lombardi was like football's version of Babe Ruth: a person I've only seen on film or print who's legend is so great he is the measuring stick for everyone else to be compared against in their respective talents. David Maraniss' book describes, delves, dissects, directs - and sometimes debunks - the life of the man, myths and events from family, friends, relatives, players, coaches and those who paths cross with his that make Vince Lombardi the American Icon he still is today. This book is an excellent read about the life of a very complex, hard driven, often conflicted man who talks, teaches, yells and coaches in very straight simple ideas and lessons on what it takes to be the best. Maraniss takes the reader from before the beginning of Lombardi's life from his trials, tribulations, revelations straight to his rise as "the greatest coach of the best team of the NFL's finest decade" and past his death. I bought this book after having a conversation with my colleagues who watched a show on Lombardi. I could not put the book down. Maraniss does a great job of (de)constructing Lombardi as to why and how his life takes shape in the era he lives in and the effects he has on those around him -great, good and sometimes not so good.
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on June 12, 2017
One of the best biographies I've ever read. Not just about X's and O's. This book dives into the psycy of Vince, the battles within himself and with his family. A must own.
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on January 22, 2013
Vince Lombardi understood how the game was both simple and complex. The game is about blocking and tackling. Mastering those two aspects of the game allowed everything else to flow. But they required sacrifice that many were not ready to make. He made believers of those who stayed with him and those who didn't were soon forgotten. It was a 24 hour a day job to be a successful coach because you had to account for every possible scenario in a game. Great story about his upbringing and how lucky he was to have the coaches teaching him in both highschool and college. And think how lucky he was to be the defensive coach with Tom Landry as offensive coach for the NY Giants. He had that uncanny ability to coin phrases and stories as teaching tools for his team or for anyone who would listen to him. I just gave a copy of this book to a young man who received a scholarship to play at TCU. He is so excited to read the guidance from one of the best. I am sure he will be a great player.
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