Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers & Washington Redskins
"Winning is a habit. Watch your thoughts, they become your beliefs. Watch your beliefs, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character.”
Vince Lombardi, at the age of 45, when most pro football luminaries have made their mark and passed from the scene of a young man's game, was embarking on the dual adventure of being head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers.
His previous NFL experience consisted of five years as an assistant coach with the New York Giants. Amazingly, Vince basked in the limelight for only one decade. Cancer struck him down just as he seemingly was about to create a "second miracle," the rejuvenation of the Washington Redskins. In remarkably few years, Lombardi became the symbol of excellence for an entire sport.
There have been few teams in pro football history in a more downtrodden state than the Packers were when Lombardi was first approached about the coaching job in 1959. Vince had gained a reputation with the Giants for his stylish, thorough, and imaginative craftsmanship on offense. He seemed to have all the credentials to be a successful head coach.
Lombardi insisted on a five-year contract to give his building program a fair chance but he set his plan into action at his very first team meeting. "I have never been on a losing team, gentlemen, and I do not intend to start now!" The Packers improved from 1-10-1 in 1958 to 7-5 in 1959. The next eight years, the Packers were in a class by themselves, winning six divisional and five NFL championships and achieving victories in Super Bowls I and II.
In 1968, Vince retired as the Packers coach but retained his general manager's duties. He found the hours "out of action" boring and, in 1969, moved to Washington, where the Redskins were struggling much the way the Packers had 10 years earlier. Remarkably, in his first season with the Redskins, Lombardi created an equally amazing result – a 7-5-2 record.