10 Reasons Why Vince Lombardi Would Not Make It As a Head Coach in the NFL Today
I put together this slide show as a way of commemorating the great Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi and also to show how the NFL has changed over the years. It has often been said that Lombardi utilized football as a metaphor for life.
On that note, this slideshow takes a snapshot as to how the NFL reflects changes in our contemporary society by way of changing attitudes, beliefs, and life practices.
To Lombardi’s credit, he was considered by many to be progressive, compassionate, and open minded, which makes present day comparisons to his coaching style all the more compelling and noteworthy.
NFL = Fortune 500 Company
Simply put, the NFL is big business. It's old news that today's star players are treated as branded commodities and have more power to do what they want, when they want.
This fact alone would drive Lombardi toward taking a college coaching job first before heading off to the NFL. The NFL head coach is no longer “the undisputed leader” of the team. Lombardi’s paternalistic style is more suited for the college game. The skill set required of an NFL coach these days matches that of a senior technology strategist, much like Bill Belichick and Sean Payton.
Players respect organization, solid game plans, and a coach who knows how to deliver his message clearly and without fanfare, executive style.
Lombardi’s trademark power sweep may have been the way to go back in the day, but it would never be successful in today’s speed rush/power game. Today, defensive players are just as athletic as the offensive players and would blow up Lombardi’s power sweep faster than you can say, “single wing” ten times fast.
Notice that the Wild Cat Formation has disappeared from many team's playbooks lately.
A glimpse of an old Lombardi playbook states one rule as, “All players are forbidden to be present in a cocktail lounge, bar or saloon during the training season or league season.” Can you imagine how that would fly in today’s locker rooms?
Lombardi was known for his overachieving militaristic conditioning regiments as players passed out and vomited on the practice field. Can you imagine a Randy Moss or Plaxico Burress playing for Lombardi today? I would buy front row seats just to watch those fun and games. These players would not last long on Lombardi’s team, and as a result, the team would not be very good either. Just look at how the New York Giants miss Plaxico today.
This is not an endorsement to slacking off in practice; rather, an objective reality check as to how the power dynamics have changed between player and coach and how this relationship effects wins and losses.
KISS Principle No Longer Valid
Lombardi’s playbook was simple, the power sweep and a few other plays. Today, the KISS principle, or Keep It Simple Stupid, no longer works in the long term. Quarterbacks especially must know an endless array of play variations and audibles. The reason for all the complexity simply lies in the fact that the game has become more specialized and sophisticated and the players are stronger and more athletic; hence, coaches must continuously devise more intricate schemes to stay ahead of the curve.
Losing My Religion
Lombardi was a devout Catholic and never missed a day at church. He brought this religious fervor and stoicism to the football field in terms of motivational speeches and moral codes. The NFL has moved into post-modern era where religion has become more of a personal choice and private practice amongst players. A coach who utilizes his religious beliefs in the locker room runs the risk of alienating his players and confusing his overall message to the team.
The NFL will always be about emotion; however, the operative word here is control. Players never like to be shown up, as even Bart Starr once told Lombardi to stop berating him in front of the other players. Lombardi never did it again. The days of Lombardi, Bobby Knight, and Bill Parcells losing it on the sidelines are now largely considered passe and undermining to the team. Professionalism in coaching has taken over.
Player/Coach Power Sharing
The days of an NFL head coach alone defining a team are over. That role is now shared with the quarterback, as seen by the Patriots Tom Brady and the Saints Drew Brees.
The QB’s have taken on the role as team CEO, and the Head Coach now has the role of Chief Technology officer and Senior Executive (the owners are still the Chairman of the Board). Look at how Brett Favre openly challenged Brad Childress on the field when it came to play calling, and nothing ever happened to him. The relationship between head coach and quarterback has now become more of a power sharing partnership than a ever before.
Something tells me Lombardi would have a problem with this arrangement.
Player Stardom/Ego Clashes
It has been said that Lombardi, while on his death bed, cursed Joe Namath, as Namath became bigger than the game itself after winning Super Bowl III. There was probably only one person who could have claimed that title before Namath took it: Lombardi himself.
Fashion Points: Original Hipster
OK, it was hard enough coming up with five reasons why Lombardi would not make it as a Head Coach in today’s NFL. His tweed hats, suit jacket, and necktie chic clearly would get him kicked off of any NFL sideline today. Former Niner head coach Mike Nolan attempted to get the retro look back, but the NFL would have none of it. Baseball caps and logo splattered jackets appear to be the present fashion du jour.
Have to admit, those Lombardi eye glasses look pretty hipster by today's standards.