On Success and Sacrifice:
“Football is a great deal like life. It teaches that work, sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness, and respect for authority are the price everyone must pay to achieve any worthwhile goal.”
“It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the heart. Men and women respond to leadership in a most remarkable way. Win their hearts, and they will follow you anywhere.”
“If you aren’t fired up with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.”
On Results and Winning:
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”
“Running a football team is no different from running any other kind of organization.”
“Winning is not everything, but making the effort to win is.”
“Success demands singleness of purpose.”
“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?”
This, in a nutshell, is Lombardi’s Trophy.
Running the Race: the Christian Vocation
St. Paul describes his own vocation in athletic terms. He writes of the dignity and harmony of the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24ff, Paul compares running for an earthly prize to the ultimate run and prize of eternal life: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. And everyone who competes for the prize goes into strict training and is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. This is how I run, intent on winning. This is how I fight, not beating the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps after I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
In Philippians 3:14, Paul again refers to athletics: “I press on with the goal in view, eager for the prize, God’s heavenly summons in Christ Jesus.”
At the end of his life, Paul writes with confidence: “I have fought the good fight. I finished the race. I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:6).
(One note of interest: Vince Lombardi and my father were boyhood friends in that idyllic and closely-knit Brooklyn community, Sheepshead Bay.)