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“They rolled down the long runway, champagne corks popping, the plane shaking and bumping and rising uneasily into the whirling winter dusk, and they were headed home to Green Bay, Lombardi and his family and his Packers, champions once more, best ever, and none of them knew at that moment how much could be lost so soon, a president and a Golden boy and even a way of life. Perhaps the past was not so innocent, but it seemed that way once it was gone, and it was gone the moment that plane left the ground.”

When Pride Still Mattered

A Life of Vince Lombardi
  • Frankfurt eBook Award

In this groundbreaking biography, David Maraniss captures all of football great Vince Lombardi: the myth, the man, his game, and his God. More than any other sports figure, Vince Lombardi transformed football into a metaphor of the American experience. The son of an Italian immigrant butcher, Lombardi toiled for twenty frustrating years as a high school coach and then as an assistant at Fordham, West Point, and the New York Giants before his big break came at age forty-six with the chance to coach a struggling team in snowbound Wisconsin.

His leadership of the Green Bay Packers to five world championships in nine seasons is the most storied period in NFL history. Lombardi became a living legend, a symbol to many of leadership, discipline, perseverance, and teamwork, and to others of an obsession with winning. In When Pride Still Mattered, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss captures the myth and the man, football, God, and country in a thrilling biography destined to become an American classic.

  • 544 pages
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Sep 2000
  • ISBN 9780684870182


Chapter One

Everything begins with the father. At the turn of the century, when Harry Lombardi was a rowdy boy roaming the streets of lower Manhattan, his chums called him the Moon. He had a face that reminded one of a full moon, a round ball that surely would bounce on the sidewalk if it could be yanked off his shoulders. His thin lips, slatted eyes, and disjointed nose seemed painted on, or imagined—as if they had been made by looking up at the moon and creating facial features from the shadows of gray on a whitelit orb. His spherical face rested atop a frame that grew boxier year by year, evoking a second nickname given to him in adulthood: Old Five by Five. This was said mostly behind his back by members of his own family, including his children. To be precise, he stood several notches above the five-foot mark, the top edge of his brush cut reaching five five, and though his stomach protruded generously, his body seemed more square than fat. The little strongman was so powerful that he once loaded two kids on a coal shovel and lifted it up with it up with one hand.