Instant Replay and the Green Bay Packers

In Sports by Brock Bourgase

Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer and Run to Daylight by Vince Lombardi helped popularize the sport novel – a famous author partnering with an athlete or coach to bring fans into the locker room – whereas Vince by Michael O’Brien is a regular biography that benefited from popularity of those other works. Lombardi’s report of a week during the regular season is the most succinct and provides the best coaching advise and Kramer’s account presents the viewpoint of a thoughtful player throughout a championship season. On the other hand, O’Brien’s cursory biography does not introduce any new information or anecdotes that are not available elsewhere. Three ideas stand out after reading these three books about the Packers’ dynasty in the 1960s.

Building Relationships: Vince Lomardi is much more sympathetic than his grizzled and hardened public image would suggest. After Paul Hornung was placed on waivers and claimed by the expansion New Orleans Saints, Lombardi showed immense regret, balancing his desire to make the right move for the team by exposing the aging running back with his feelings for the man. The coach led the toughest training camp in the N.F.L. but also insisted upon daily team building activities, some as basic as singing during team dinners.

Flexibility: One of Lombardi’s favourite expressions was “Run to Daylight,” signifying that the backs and receivers did not run set routes but took advantage of the opportunities presented by the defence. “Run to Daylight” could also serve as one of the integral tenet’s of basketball’s motion offence.

Perspective: Jerry Kramer, the Hall of Fame guard, spoke about how the team peaked for critical games and took minor setbacks in stride. Although the season was not divided into macrocycles, peak and taper periods were included. The team members shared a very balanced outlook and common goals. The veteran team employed chemistry, communication, intelligence, and teamwork to defeat younger, more athletic, and bolder teams.