Of all the lessons Coach Lombardi taught his players — pursue excellence, never settle, honor the uniform, respect god, eat nutritionally, prepare thoroughly — one of the richest remains this: value friendship.
Honored residents of Titletown, Lombardi’s Packers bonded in the singular pursuit of championships and collective respect for their coach. That kind of high-fiving, champagne sipping, back slapping, memory making friendship is easy. With celebrity comes joyful gatherings and uncomplicated social occasions. The golf tournaments, poker games, hunting trips and parties ensured an effortless bonding that would have been enough for players of a different coach, men of a different era.
Both the test of genuine friendship and the basis on which it is built happens much more quietly, when dust starts to settle on the trophy case and family finances aren’t meted out from an even playing field.
With a dismissive attitude toward ego, Coach Lombardi encouraged his players, even those competing for the same position, to learn from and respect each other. By his own solid, personal relationships, with his parish priest Father Bill Spalding, with Packer legend and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Tony Canadeo, he demonstrated the worthy pursuit of having and being a friend.
In the 47 years since the Packers won the first Super Bowl, they have honored faithfully Lombardi’s call to friendship.
Certainly, even after all these years, they still find joy in the orchestrated gatherings at reunions and induction ceremonies. But they also honor each other in the muted moments, fundraising for a sick teammate, calling a lonely guy, hiring a struggling friend, finding a lost soul.
Blessed by the absence of free agency, Lombardi’s Packers stuck around; most played together for a decade. Nurtured by a principled man, they learned to appreciate one of the more obscure attributes of true champions — the honor of friendship.
12 thoughts on “Lombardi built champions and friends”
Oh Molly I really enjoy your stories. They bring back so many great memories. I love that they are first hand. With my cup of Starbucks Christmas blend & your latest story is a great way to start the day. Thanks
Thanks for the warm thoughts on this cold day Kathryn!
Thanks for sharing your stories and pictures. This weekend was Henry’s birthday and I thought about Uncle H and Aunt Olive all weekend…missing them so it was nice to see his picture today.
Glad you saw it and I’m happy to keep the memories alive.
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We’re reblogging our favorite posts this week in honor of the two-year birthday of this blog. We’re also hoping for a few more followers. So, we’re going to enter every new follower into a drawing for a Molly B and Me care package that we’ll send out on September 3. Already a follower? Just refer someone to this blog and we’ll enter your name too. (Let us know that you referred someone either on our Facebook page or in the comment section of the blog.) We’re going to ask Connie the Cookie Lady to draw a name on Saturday. Thanks for reading and please enjoy some of our favorite posts.