1. Welcome to Green Bay Packers NFL Football Forum & Community!

    Packer Forum is one of the largest online communities for the Green Bay Packers. You are currently viewing our community forums as a guest user.

    Sign Up or

    Having an account grants you additional privileges, such as creating and participating in discussions. Furthermore, we hide most of the ads once you register as a member!
    Dismiss Notice

Remembering Lombardi: Izenberg & When Pride Still Mattered

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by TOPHAT, Jul 7, 2007.

  1. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Messages:
    947
    Ratings:
    +0
    http://stilespoints.blogspot.com/

    Jerry Izenberg Unplugged: Thoughts about Vince Lombardi

    ...An interview [with] legendary sports journalist Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger....Izenberg has been reporting for 56 years and is one of only four reporters to cover every Super Bowl (the other three are Jerry Green of The Detroit News, Edwin Pope of the Miami Herald, and David Klein formerly of the Star-Ledger and now a writer for a pro football newsletter).....Izenberg still writes 20-25 columns a year and covers the Super Bowl and Triple Crown races....he has written numerous books including "No Medals for Trying" in which he spent a week with Bill Parcells and the New York Giants....another of his books is "The Greatest Game Ever Played" which detailed the epic game 6 NLCS battle between the Astros and Mets....

    At the beginning of the interviewed I asked Izenberg to discuss the most interesting person he interviewed when dealing with the NFL....he said there are so many that it was impossible to just focus on one person....so I decided to ask him about Green Bay Packer head coach Vince Lombardi....for the next 30 minutes Izenberg told enthralling stories about the late great coach....One of the great Lombardi quotes will tell you what has happened in pro football when he said, "is this a game for madmen and have I become one of them". I got to know him when he was a coach with the Giants which is where our friendship began even though I had known of him from St. Cecilia’s in Inglewood and when he coached up at West Point under Red Blaik. In those days we did not have coordinators, we had backfield coaches who really ran the offense and a defensive coach who ran the defense. On a remarkable staff, Vince and Tom Landry held those positions for the Giants.

    You have to remember how he was shaped. Vince was shaped by the fact that he was always trying to catch up and then suddenly he was way ahead of everybody else and that posed another set of problems because he wanted to stay there. When I said he was trying to catch up, you got to remember, this guy coached high school football as a mature man. He went back to Fordham as a freshman coach. (His classmate when he was student at Fordham was Wellington Mara.) He had done nothing at Fordham to make you think that he was going to go anywhere else. He was getting very impatient. He noticed that all the assistant coaches on Red Blaik’s staff turned over every two years because they got full-time jobs as head coaches. So he interviewed at West Point and Blaik took him. The first year he jumped on some cadet. I believe he was coaching the freshmen and Blaik called him aside and told him "We don’t do that here. And if you want to get anywhere in this business you better remember that and hang on to your temper." It is hard to believe that he did. Can you imagine what his temper used to be like? So he did temper it a little bit.

    The huge disappointment. Maybe the biggest disappointment of all came when other assistant coaches got different (head coaching) jobs. And Lombardi was a candidate for a job at Wake Forest. Now this is the south and we are going back to the late 40s early 50s. And you know that a lot of things are very slow to change. He interviewed and he was quite excited about it because other coaches from that staff (at Army) got jobs and he fully expected that he would get the Wake Forest job. A guy down there in North Carolina called him up and said. "Vince I have to tell you I don’t want you play out a charade. They had several number of people interview and you were one of them but they are not going to give this job to anybody whose name ends in a vowel." Now whether the guy was right or wrong, Vince had believed him, and he did not get the job. It was a tremendous blow to him. And years later it was the reason that he and (Green Bay Packer) Willie Davis were close. This is how that friendship started. Willie came to Vince and asked for the day off from practice which is like asking for instant canonization. You don’t get that from Lombardi. So Lombardi asked him why he wanted the day off. Davis said he had to go to Milwaukee to get a haircut. Vince said, "Mister you get a haircut here like everybody else." Davis told Vince that, "Emlen Tunnell and I do not get haircuts here. They guy won’t cut our hair." So Vince told Davis to come with him after practice. So he goes to the barber, and he has Willie with him, and they step into the barber shop. The barber is like, "hey coach, we gonna have a good team this year, blah, blah, blah. So what do you think, a light trim?" And Lombardi said, "Nah, I don’t think I need anything. Just cut this guy’s hair (referring to Davis)." And of course the guy did. And after that, the black players could get their hair cut in Green Bay. He later told Willie that all came about because his name did end in a vowel and what happened to him with the Wake Forest job. He said, "we had to be just a little bit better everybody else. Me in my time, and you in your time. You just got to deal with it and don’t let anybody take it away from you." That was just one little side of Lombardi. I’ll tell you about another side to Lombardi that people don’t know.

    Nelson Toburen played for Green Bay in the early Lombardi years and broke his neck in practice. Lombardi went to see him in the hospital and he said, "what you going to do, you can't give up?" And Toburen had a good attitude and said I think I want to be a lawyer. The story I got was that Vince had called someone at Marquette and got Nelson in on a free ride and never discussed it with anybody. Vince had that competitive fire in him. He's in the living room on the floor playing marbles with his grandson and Marie (his wife) is looking at him and the kid starts to cry. She asks what's the matter and he said "grandpa is winning all my marbles." So she mumbles very softly, "for Christ-sake let the kid win" and Vince said, "the world is not like that Marie." I want to give you a background of who he was. His father was an immigrant and Vince became the head of the family because his father was older and not too well. Well Vince's brother Joe Lombardi played guard for Vince at St. Cecilia's and the big game every year was Englewood High against St. Cecilia's - Thanksgiving Day - traditional. Vince had a curfew so he would go around to all the player's houses and they better be in bed at 10:00. So he gets to his mother's house and his brother is mopping the kitchen floor. Vince says, "what are you doing up?" Joe said, "well Mom said that tomorrow is your end of the season party and Mom told me to clean the kitchen floor." Vince said, "well I told you to be in bed." Joe later told me, "here I am mopping his mother's floor for his (Vince's) party and he tells me I am not playing tomorrow." I don't know if he finally let him in the game but he was harder on Joe than anybody else.

    So Vince had suffered, but he comes down to the Giants as the backfield coach which means he is the offensive coach. He tells the players he is going to put in a play that was very successful for him in college called the halfback option. All the Giants laughed. They said, "we don't need a college play." They weren't afraid of him yet. Anyway the halfback option turned out to be the play that became famous in New York because Frank Gifford threw the passes. He was a terrific organizer. He was hard as hell, but they (players) loved him. So Wellington Mara gets a call from Philadelphia saying they want to speak to Vince about the head coaching job. Wellington tells Philadelphia that Vince is not interested. Wellington then goes to Vince and tells him that he just turned down your permission to talk to Philadelphia. Vince was like, "why did you do that?" Wellington told him, "this is not the job for you. I'll tell you win to go. Believe me and I will help you." Three or four years later the Green Bay job opened up and Vince was cool to the idea. He was a Brooklyn guy and to go live in Green Bay, Wisconsin - he could not imagine that. But Wellington told him, "you better take the job. Believe me. The reason you got to take this job is that I know the guy who is the head of all the stockholders. And I told him about your temperament and he is going to let you call every shot." And that is how the Packers were born. In his second year, he got them to play Philly for the championship and they lost. I remember him telling me afterward, "this will never happen to me again."

    Thoughts about Vince Lombardi - Part II

    This is the second part of my interview with the legendary sports journalist Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger about his dealings with former Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi. He (Lombardi) was a genius in terms of not asking too much (from his players). He had the smallest playbook in football. Forrest Gregg (photo) once told me, "we (Packers) would laugh when he ran our plays. We all but said that we are coming over left tackle - stop us if you can." Forrest Gregg was a wonderful story which tells you more about Lombardi. Gregg had mixed emotions about Lombardi when he first came. The Green Bay locker room was worse than what Forrest had at SMU. He was thinking of retiring because the previous coach had played favorites, and nobody worked. There was a boycott campaign in Green Bay about going to see the Packer games. He (Gregg) was like, "I don’t need this stuff anymore." Then Vince came and he talked to Forrest on the phone and Forrest said, "let me give this guy a try." So he goes out there and the first day Lombardi rips into Paul Hornung and Forrest thinks to himself, "I like this guy, I think I’m going to stick around." Later in that camp Vince is diagraming what would become the Green Bay sweep. So Forrest puts his hand up and says, "Coach I don’t mean to contradict you but you are asking me to pull behind the guard, get all the way around and make an impossible block." Vince looked at him and said, "Well Forrest it might be impossible for you so I will find someone who can." Forrest Gregg ended up making that block for years.

    Vince was a wonderful guy. He really was a funny guy. I remember one year I was stuck in Green Bay all by myself over Christmas. They had tied with the Baltimore Colts and they had an extra playoff game. So I go out to the compound to see him and he was sitting there with his first computer. And he's screaming at everybody because he didn’t know how to work it. He said, "I stayed up all last night asking questions to the computer." The kind of questions he was asking the computer were unanswerable because there was no software for it. He said, "I have come to the conclusion that the computer has told me anybody whose IQ is higher than 130 will not hit." I once had an argument with him that we carried on long distance over a book I wrote. It was a book called "Rivals" dealing with rivalries that moved all of America. Now Vince was a Dodger fan being he was Brooklyn. So he called me up and said, "Gee that is a great book you wrote." And I was like, "Thanks but it wasn’t that good. It was a nice book." So Vince is like, "I’m telling you it was a great book!" So now I ask him what the hell have you read (in the book) and he said to me, "Never mind, I read it. It is great!" And that was Vince, he always had to be right. I’ll tell you though, I liked him so much. You had to like him cause he kind of favored the New York area writers. When we would come out there (to Green Bay) he would ignore everybody else. He was really such a class guy. I’ll tell you something that a lot of people do not know, there was some maneuvering for Vince to come home and coach the Giants. And he really wanted to come. He wanted five percent of the team. And Helen Mara, who was Wellington Mara’s sister-in-law said, "we work so hard so I don’t see why we should give up anything." The Maras had 50 percent of the stock but nothing ever came of it. The Giants were horrible back then. They changed coaches like they changed socks.

    Izenberg then talked about covering the famous Ice Bowl game between the Packers and Cowboys. I will tell you two anecdotes that had nothing to do with football but will tell you how cold it was. There was no heat in the press box. It was an old wooden press box at Lambeau Field. It was freezing. In those days they had little heaters with motors that would throw heat. So they would start them up, but they had engines. Some genius decided to put one in the press box and after a while I started smelling something. Here is was emitting carbon monoxide. I told them, "shut that damn thing off." It was the only time in my entire life at a football game that I drank. It was so cold. As the game ends, some kid jumps on the field and has a saw. The goalpost back then were wooden. This enterprising little bastard is going to chop it up and sell pieces of it. So he is out there sawing. I go back to writing my story, shivering, and when I finish I look and the kid is still sawing. He was not able to cut off one piece because it was so frozen. Before the game Vince was bragging that some guy sold him a bill of goods to put electrical wiring underneath the turf this way it wouldn’t freeze. So you would put the tarp over it and you turn the electricity on and it keeps the field soft so when you take the tarp off the field will not be frozen. Well the only thing it didn’t calculate is how you get the tarp off because the tarp is frozen to the field. It took them like a half an hour to scrape up the tarp. Vince was a guy who reacted very viscerally. You know when they played down in Dallas in the game where the Packers intercepted in the end zone when Dallas was driving for the winning touchdown. They had some kind of a thing for the halftime show that went on and on and on. And they had floats on the field and were trying to get them off the field. All of a sudden I see this guy come running across the field banging on the side of one of the floats yelling, "get that ******* thing out of here." It was Lombardi.

    Lombardi was often worse when they won than when they lost because his head was still in the game. He was still playing the game and he would get very angry. He was easier to interview after a loss. In a game against the Rams, the Packers just won something like 6-3 and he knew they would have to play the Rams again in the playoffs. So he has them all in the locker room and he is tearing everybody a new *******. He’s like, "you guys don’t deserve to be Packers." You have to remember, it was a very important thing for these players to be Packers for the pride as much as the playoff money was guaranteed. In those days they didn’t make any money. Now, Lombardi is going on and on and on and Willie Davis (photo) is sitting on a wooden folding chair in front of his cubicle. He was leaning back in his chair hoping Lombardi would not see him. So he is leaning back and leaning back. Then Vince yells, "does anybody here want to play Packer football?" And with that, the chair breaks and Willie goes onto the floor and jumps up and Lombardi looks at him and says, "now see, Willie Davis wants to play Packer football. Who else wants to play it?" I asked Willie if he ever told Lombardi the truth about what happened and he said, "are you nuts?"

    Before concluding the interview, I asked Izenberg how Lombardi would have been as a coach in today's NFL. I think he would have been great because he understood the players and the types of players there are. He understood the world he lived in. And I don’t think he would have had a Terrell Owens, but I think he would have understood today’s players.
    _____________________________________________________________

    http://mvn.com/nfl-packers/2007/07/06/packers-book-review-when-pride-still-mattered/

    Packers book review: “When Pride Still Mattered”

    It’s always about the time of the baseball All-Star break that I seriously start itching for Packers football. While my dreams of a Super Bowl season begin to come into focus, I imagine the Thompsons and McCarthys of my world behind closed doors for 18 hours a day, seven days a week, scheming and crafting and planning. The Kampmans and Hawks of my world are pumping iron and getting hungrier. The Harrells and Jacksons are getting more anxious every day to prove their critics wrong. Even the Favres are mentally preparing between charity softball games and relaxing afternoons on the family tractor. The regular season is but two months away (first game Sun. Sept 9th vs. Eagles); preseason is five weeks off (first game Sat. Aug 11th at Pittsburgh); and training camp is only three weeks away (starts Sat. July 28th). So what do I do to relieve that ever increasing Green Bay Packers football itch? Often, I read. Reading about the Packers is the best temporary relief for that unavoidable itch all true Packer fans experience as the season draws near. It transports you immediately to football season. No more waiting. It pumps you up, gets your engine revved. And it puts the upcoming season into context, into the proper perspective.

    When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss is a guaranteed anti-itch phenomenon. Maraniss, a Pulitzer Prize winner, hails from Madison, Wisconsin and, with this Lombardi biography, “forges a near-perfect synthesis of fine writing and fascinating material,” according to Sports Illustrated’s Ron Fimrite. “May be the best sports biography ever published.” In addition to delving into Lombardi’s years prior to and following his time with Green Bay, the Packers’ history and legends of the 1960s are traced and retold with unmatched accuracy, which will get any reader jacked up for the upcoming season. Even better, When Pride Still Mattered reveals dozens of interesting facts many Packer fans never knew about Lombardi:

    - Lombardi was colorblind
    - Lombardi’s brother, Harold, was gay
    - Lombardi’s father, Harry, had “WORK” and “PLAY” tattooed on his knuckles
    - Lombardi only had one head coaching job before the Packers: with St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, New Jersey
    - Although conservative in many ways, Lombardi was a registered Democrat and was friends with President Kennedy, who admired Lombardi. (In ’68, Nixon considered Lombardi for Vice President before discovering he was Democrat.)
    - When Lombardi was offensive coordinator for the New York Giants from 1954-1958, Tom Landry was the defensive coordinator (Frank Gifford was Lombardi’s star)
    - When Curly Lambeau died in 1965, the Packers renamed their stadium Lambeau Field, much to the distaste of Lombardi who didn’t like having the spotlight stolen from his team.
    - Lombardi chain-smoked Salems and was up to three cartons a week before quitting cold turkey in 1963 and never smoking again.
    - Lombardi’s wife struggled with alcoholism her entire adult life, often passing out during parties.
    - On his deathbed, in the middle of the night, Marie, Lombardi’s wife, heard her husband yell, “Joe Namath! You’re not bigger than football! Remember that!”

    Those are just a few of the many interesting facts this 500+ page biography has to offer. It is detailed, colorful, exciting, informative, and, most importantly, it helps with that darn itch that always seems to crop up this time of year. And, it is easily the best biography I’ve ever read. When Pride Still Mattered, more than anything, should be read because it will better educate Packer fans about the 1960s – when the Packers solidified their place in history, winning five championships in only nine years under Lombardi. Plus, it’s jam-packed with Lombardi quotes, my favorite being, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

    _______________________________________________________________________

    If you’re not the reading type, you might reconsider after viewing this Packers video found on You Tube. Lombardi’s unmistakable voice – authoritative, commanding, firm, and sometimes scary – narrates. Also, here is Lombardi diagramming the famous Packers sweep on a chalkboard.
    And here is Homer Simpson quoting, or misquoting, Lombardi:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87ieKzW0Jhk


    TOP HAT'S footnote: In my library, I have the original "Run to Daylight"
    and Kramer's "Farewell to Football"....Classics of the '60s Packer era.
    I had "When Pride Still Mattered" but I loaned it....
     
  2. nathaniel

    nathaniel Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Messages:
    905
    Ratings:
    +0
    Lombardi is someone I definitely wish I could have met. Even watching Lombardi's Packer back in the day had to have been something special. There's a reason the Super Bowl trophy is called the Lombardi trophy. Greatest coach ever.
     
  3. cheesey

    cheesey Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Messages:
    1,000
    Ratings:
    +3
    Re: Remembering Lombardi: Izenberg & When Pride Still Matter

    He knew how to motivate, thats for sure. But he would never make it in todays NFL. When a player questioned him, or asked for more money, they were sent packing. That wouldn't fly with the players association today.
    I remember a story by Bart Starr about Lombardi. I don't remember what the infraction was that Starr made, but Lombardi chewed him out in front of the team. Later, Starr went to Lombardi's office and told him that if he had a chewing out coming to do it in his office, not in front of the team, as Starr was the leader of the team on the field and the men wouldn't respect him if Lombardi chewed him out in front of them. He said that Lombardi never did that to him again.
    So Lombardi ruled with an iron fist, but was a fair man.
    I got to see him coach, but never got to actually meet him. He was a very special man, thats for sure!
     
  4. yooperfan

    yooperfan Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2004
    Messages:
    1,900
    Ratings:
    +0
    I'm going to hear Vince Lombardi's son speak tomorrow night.

    Maybe i can get him to autograph "When Pride Still Mattered" for me.
     
  5. nathaniel

    nathaniel Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Messages:
    905
    Ratings:
    +0
    Re: Remembering Lombardi: Izenberg & When Pride Still Matter

    Starr tells that story in his book. I was really surprised when I first read it. I always thought Lombardi ruled with an iron fist, but he obviously knew when to back off.
     
  6. cheesey

    cheesey Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Messages:
    1,000
    Ratings:
    +3
    Re: Remembering Lombardi: Izenberg & When Pride Still Matter

    I saw him on a TV interview a few months ago telling that story. I think that was one of the things that made Lombardi great. He knew who he had to jump on, and who he needed to handle more softly.

    Hey Yoop........the would be cool to have his son sign that book! I bet he learned alot from his Dad!
     
  7. yooperfan

    yooperfan Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2004
    Messages:
    1,900
    Ratings:
    +0
    I did go to listen to Vince Lombardi Jr. last night.
    He was simply your average motivational speaker. I was disappointed (as were most other people I talked to) in that he barely touched on his father and the Green Bay Packers.

    He did sign my "When Pride Still Mattered " book and he did it for free ( It cost $10.00 to have your picture taken with him).

    There was alot of Packer paraphenalia there which is being sold by silent auction.
    One of the few things that doesn't have a high minimum bid is a 2006 Packer autographed football. I would like to submit a bid on it, can anyone tell me what a reasonable bid would be for this ball?
     
  8. vikesrule

    vikesrule Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    Messages:
    1,933
    Ratings:
    +0
    Re: Remembering Lombardi: Izenberg & When Pride Still Matter

    Hey yoop, ya want my objective opinion on what that is worth? :razz:
     
  9. yooperfan

    yooperfan Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2004
    Messages:
    1,900
    Ratings:
    +0
    Re: Remembering Lombardi: Izenberg & When Pride Still Matter

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh, no!
     
  10. TheStone

    TheStone Cheesehead

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    Messages:
    156
    Ratings:
    +10
    Re: Remembering Lombardi: Izenberg & When Pride Still Matter

    There's some truth in it...... at least, and it comes from a Queens fan.
    Bizarre! :rotflmao:

    Joking apart, you have to figure out what it's worth for YOU, unless
    you're not just going to resell it. After that you can decide how much you
    like to pay for it. I think, that's the best way to decide.

    Don't look what it might be worth to others.
    Be shure, it's of far less worth to vikes. :)
     

Share This Page