This post was originally written by Vince Lombardi in the late 1960’s as a part of a program for national rental car on what it takes to be No.1. It hung on the wall of my dad’s wall while he was in high school and he recently gave it to me.
Winning isn’t a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Wining is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.
There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game and that is first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do and to win and to win and to win.
Every time a football player goes out to ply his trade he’s got to play from the ground up –from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s OK. You’ve got to be smart to by No 1 in any business. But more important, you’ve got to play with your heart – with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.
Running a football team is no different from running any other kind of organization – an army, a political party, a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win – to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel, I don’t think it is.
It’s a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they’re there – to compete. They know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The objective is to win- fairly, squarely, decently, by the rule – but to win.
And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the disciple. There is something in good men that really yearns for, needs, discipline and the harsh reality of head-to-head combat.
I don’t say these things because I believe in the ‘brute’ nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.