The Hiring of Vince Lombardi and the Future of the NFL Draft

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The Hiring of Vince Lombardi and the Future of the NFL Draft

I had another opportunity to talk with Chris Landry on Friday on the Steve Duemig Show, and Chris shared his thoughts on two topics.

Landry has some real insight, as he been in coaching and scouting since the 1980s, and he was among the people who set up the very first NFL Scouting Combine.

First, I mentioned to Chris that Paul Brown, along with George Halas, had both been very instrumental in getting the Green Bay Packers to hire Vince Lombardi in 1959.

Landry mentioned the obstacles that Lombardi was dealing with in the 1950s as he tried to further his coaching career:

You know what, people kind of know this in our society now, but people won't understand this, but the biggest reason Vince Lombardi had a hard time getting a head coaching job was because he was Italian-American. There was a lot of bias against him. It was something he fought. There were a few people in the league that really fought to give him opportunities.

Landry compared it to the situation that African-American coaches had to deal with for quite a while in the NFL:

We've talked about African-Americans and how long it took for them to get chances. We can go back in this country where other people were discriminated against subliminally or maybe overtly.

Lombardi was 45 years old when the Packers hired him, but he should have been a head coach much earlier based on his coaching track record.

Landry continued:

He (Lombardi) was at an older than normal age when he got the Green Bay job. Let me just say...older than he should have considering the success that he had and the fast track he was on. That was the biggest reason. People tell me who were around at that time that lived it, that it was the biggest reason. His name would come up for college jobs or pro jobs and it was like we (teams) don't know. It was kind of that thing. Sort of what Tony Dungy went through.

I also got Chris' feedback about the NFL draft, after it was rumored that future drafts may be pushed back to May. I inferred that the main reason was due to increased revenue due to rating sweeps at that time of year on television. Landry stated:

Bob...you hit it. Bingo. The decisions that are being made at Park Avenue are being made by business and marketing people, not football people. And this is exactly what it's about. It's about owning even more of the offseason in the news-cycle in the NFL. You got maybe an extra two or three weeks in the pre-draft conversation, and now you've got the middle of May that's going to be the draft conversation, and to the end of May where you will still be talking post-draft. Now it will June even more topical about how those draft choices are doing in OTAs.

What does that all mean?

It's less time for coaches to have these players. (Now) you get them in April and you have the entire month of May to school them. Now you will have less time to develop them prior to training camp.  So, it's not a good move from a football standpoint. Is it crippling compared to some of the other decisions? No. But it's not in the best interest (of the NFL).

Bottom line, when you see Commissioner Roger Goodell talk about moving the NFL draft back to May and continuing to push an 18-game schedule, know one thing: It's simply the NFL trying to expand its revenues.

It's certainly not in the best interest of the coaches and more importantly, the players.

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