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Sunday, July 22, 2012

VINCE LOMBARDI

As I wipe away tears watching a biography on Vince Lombardi, I can't help but feel sadness for his family, friends, players, and all that were touched by this man's remarkable life. He is looked upon, even 42 years after his passing, as an almost mythical figure. It wasn't the loss of a great coach, but of a family who boar the brunt of his sacrifice for the game of football.

“To achieve success, whatever the job we have, we must pay a price.”

His quote epitomizes the life of this legendary leader. He put his job first and everything else, including family was a distant second. Most of us wouldn't make that choice. Then again, most of us won't have the impact on as many lives.

Lombardi took a Green Bay Packers team that finished the 1958 season 1-10-1 and had them in the Championship game in two years. While they did not win, they would never lose another one as long as he was there. Five championships later, the legend lives on. What is most fascinating about this turnaround is that the team he inherited had 7 players that would one day be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

How did he do it? Listen to his players talk about how much of an impact Lombardi had on their life. To a man, they speak of not only the game of football and how he made them better, but how he made them better men. He inspired them to surpass whatever internal limitations were in place. Words like honesty, integrity, ambition, dedication and heart are constantly used. Hard work, determination, focus, a pursuit of perfection and a pat on the back were the tools he gave each member of the team, enabling them to be more than they thought they could be.

That's what makes it ironic that those same principles kept him from being as legendary of a father. His son has stated he learned things about his father from books people have written. How sad he didn't get it first hand. His daughter felt the absence even more, as she has often said, his mind was always on football. He himself admitted to being a failure as a father.

Was the success on the field worth it? What would YOU do?

I wonder if he had to do it all over again, would he choose the icon over being a better Dad and husband. His wife probably suffered the most. The loneliness and sometimes being the focus of his anger affected her long after the coach's passing. And yet, if you look at the sheer number of people who attribute their success in life to him, they far outnumber his family. If you are keeping score, it is not even close.

Spock once said, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”

I doubt many of us would choose that path. But does it HAVE to be either/or?? You don't have to be a legendary coach, a famous actor, or even a beloved member of the community to have a positive influence on another human being. You don't need to be on TV, the movie screen, or in political office to make a difference. Do what you can with what you have and you will be remembered long after you are gone. After all, like the saying goes, life is not measured by what you have, but what you gave.

What have you given lately?

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