Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach, was born in 1913 and died in 1970. His blind fanaticism to the game of football made his athletes play for him as no teams had ever played before. He inspired great admiration and great anger in his men. For example, in his first days with the Green Bay Packers, Coach Lombardi found veteran player Max McGee breaking a training rule--and he smashed McGee's head against a dormitory wall. McGee responded to this with, "I'm not going to play for that...He's a Madman."
Lombardi agreed with McGee's assessment of him. Lombardi viewed football as a special madness and he was proud to be the most committed leader in the game. The men on his team, halfback Paul Hornung, quarterback Bart Starr, guard Jerry Kramer, and fullback Jim Taylor, responded to Lombardi and put aside their personal wishes for the good of the team. Tackle Henry Jordan's often-quoted remark indicated the fairness of Lombardi: "He treats us all the same. Like dogs."
In 1959, he left his job as a New York Giants assistant coach to take charge of the lowly Green Bay Backers. A year earlier, the Packers had won only one game. Brusquely and decisively, Lombardi weeded out the defeatists and the loafers and the complainers. Obsessed with excellence, Lombardi installed his crushing system and convinced the Packers that they could be winners. They won seven of 12 games in his first season and a Western Division title in his second. Then they captured five National Football League championships in seven years, as well as the first two Super Bowls.
On the field, Lombardi reduced a complex and sophisticated game to its most brutally simple and effective form. He believed in attacking an opponent's strongest point and breaking his spirit, and his players learned to relish head-on confrontations with rivals. Off the field, Lombardi demanded nothing short of complete servile devotion. Hardened professionals stood a...