March 4, 2015
Vince Lombardi, born June 11, 1913, was the first-born child of Italian immigrants Enrico “Harry” and Matilda “Mattie” Lombardi of Brooklyn New, York.
A devout Catholic, Vince had planned and studied to become a priest after High School, but eventually left seminary and become a High School football coach, got married and started a family.
His early success at the High School and Collegiate levels eventually landed him an assistant coaching job for the New York Giants. As an Italian immigrant, Vince was convinced that landing a head coach position at the highest levels would not be possible, but after the Green Bay Packers abysmal season in 1958, consisting of a 1-10-1 record, their worst in history, Vince Lombardi was given the opportunity as the new head coach. The turnaround in Green Bay was nothing short of remarkable. They went 7-5 in Lombardi’s rookie season. The next year, Packers fans showed their support by selling out every game, a feat, which continues to this day. The Packers conference championship victory in his second season, combined with his deep religious convictions earned him the name “The Pope.”
In his NFL career, Lombardi amassed a career record of 105-35-6 an incredible .740 winning percentage, and never suffered a losing season. He led the packers to Five Championships in seven years, making him one of the most successful coaches in professional football. The NFL Super Bowl Trophy is named the “Vince Lombardi” in his honour.
Lombardi’s quotes are legendary, but one of his greatest moments gets retold over and over again. On one occasion, the Packers lost to an inferior squad. It was bad enough to lose… but to lose to that team was absolutely inexcusable. Coach Lombardi called a practice the very next morning. The men sat silently, looking more like whipped puppies than a team of champions. They had no idea what to expect from the man they feared the most.
Gritting his teeth and staring holes through one athlete after another, Lombardi began:
“Okay, we go back to the basics this morning. . . .” Holding a football high enough for all to see, he continued to yell: “Gentlemen, this is a football!”
Ephesians 4:12 reminds us, as five fold ministers of the Gospel, of our primary objective, “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” In 2015, taking that commission of the Apostle Paul, and combining with the approach of Vince Lombardi, we are getting “back to the basics.” In football, this practice produced championship seasons; in the Kingdom, it will produce victorious life.
So let me get started on our journey “back to the basics” this month… “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a Bible!”