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Dear Mr. Allen:

One of many experimental iterations ...

B&G

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The man for whom the Superbowl trophy is named and a former Redskin head coach like your Dad expressed his football philosophy (maybe his life's philosophy) in the speech paraphrased below. My Dad took me to hear him speak when I was a youngster and I heard these words (among others) spoken that day. I've never forgotten them and they've served me well all my life. I hope you will think on what the great man said and let the words guide you in the challenging times ahead.

Godspeed and as your dear Dad often said: How about three cheers for the Redskins?


What It Takes to be Number 1


"Winning is not 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. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

"There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that's 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 to play 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 O.K. You've got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, 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 than running any other kind of organization — an army, a political party or 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 is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That's why they are there — to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules — 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 discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for 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, the greatest fulfillment of all that 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."

- V. Lombardi

1913 - 1970
 

Om

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Nice post, B&G--thanks.

I've oftened wondered how Vince Lombardi would play today ...

Would 21st century big-time college players buy into this man?

How much of his success was due to his own X and O genius, his organizational skills, or perhaps, as some suggest, simply benefitting from fielding better players than his competition?

If he hit town and had quick early success, would his old-school discipline and commmitment message wear out his welcome too quickly to establish a winning tradition?

One of those rhetorical debates with no real answers, obviously ... but with an icon like Lombardi, it's an endlessly fascinating one.
 

servumtuum

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Nice post, B&G--thanks.

I've oftened wondered how Vince Lombardi would play today ...

Would 21st century big-time college players buy into this man?

How much of his success was due to his own X and O genius, his organizational skills, or perhaps, as some suggest, simply benefitting from fielding better players than his competition?

If he hit town and had quick early success, would his old-school discipline and commitment message wear out his welcome too quickly to establish a winning tradition?

One of those rhetorical debates with no real answers, obviously ... but with an icon like Lombardi, it's an endlessly fascinating one.
Interesting question, my friend. My introduction to NFL football was as a youngster watching the Lombardi-led Packers at Soldier Field in Chicago-they were less a football team than a Force of Nature to be withstood if possible-with only the occasional chance at beating them. It's one of the reasons I'm involved with that Packer fan board-I'm a Redskin fan but there will always be a closet in my heart where the Packers live. When Vince's progeny George Allen took the reins of the Redskins is when I was seduced into being a Redskin fan because he carried Vince's tradition with him.

Would a reincarnation of Lombardi be successful in today's NFL? In a carbon-copy of how things were at the time, probably not I don't think. Times change, mores and values change, and the sport itself has changed-it's a commercial enterprise with all the good and bad that entails. Players are, in some respects, independent contractors-and financially very successful ones-that demand, probably rightly so, treatment according to their status. Most do play for the love of the game at which they excel and love the competition. Lombardi was right, I think, when he stated that only those who truly love the competition will ultimately be successful at the game. However, the styles of coaching have changed to keep up with societal changes and the fame and financial status of the players and thus the "old-school" approach would probably not be accommodated in its strictest form. Discipline is essential, of course, but its administration has to accommodate the state of things as they are now-not as they were 40 or 50 years ago-turning back the clock is not, I don't think, an option.
 

Sarge

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Great speech. Kinda like a speech Patton once gave to the troops

As for Mr Allen, I have only one piece of advice;

Don't **** it up.
 

B&G

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Nice post, B&G--thanks.

I've oftened wondered how Vince Lombardi would play today ...

Would 21st century big-time college players buy into this man?

How much of his success was due to his own X and O genius, his organizational skills, or perhaps, as some suggest, simply benefitting from fielding better players than his competition?

If he hit town and had quick early success, would his old-school discipline and commmitment message wear out his welcome too quickly to establish a winning tradition?

One of those rhetorical debates with no real answers, obviously ... but with an icon like Lombardi, it's an endlessly fascinating one.
No question but that many things have changed significantly over the last several decades but I believe leadership itself has timeless, unchanging qualities clearly distinguishable from management with which many people confuse it. Lombardi's management techniques clearly would be problematic today but his leadership traits would remain the same and as effective as they were 50 years ago. In fact, those qualities are the same as those characteristic of Julius Ceasar 2000 years ago and by all true leaders before and since .

No doubt managers can better motivate employees by serving the needs of subordinates. Leaders determine direction, managers execute it. Determining new directions often requires boat-rocking single mindedness that may run contrary to the needs of followers. The management task of executing direction does require the nurturing of subordinates, but this is not leadership. The manager-as-servant is an admirable concept, but leaders cannot really be servants - they are too focused on achieving goals that they deem worthwhile regardless of the needs of followers. Yes, leaders might nurture people to influence them but this is only a means to an end - to achieve an external purpose.

In short, leaders are people who:

stand out from the crowd
do the unexpected
challenge the status quo - strive to find new directions, popular or otherwise
focus on achievement - getting somewhere new or better first
are self-absorbed in their dedication to achievement
may make others uncomfortable by rejecting the familiar

Today, we have many great managers but very few true leaders and even less that that of men or women who can both manage and lead effectively as Lombardi did in his time. Happily, any organization may have leaders who determine direction and managers who carry it out. Let's hope our new management team does because that's what we need moving forward.


.
 

servumtuum

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Your remarks about distinguishing leadership and management are quite correct and I tend to agree that managers outnumber leaders excessively. One thing leaders do that most managers cannot is motivate those under them-managers are administrators, but leaders create the goals and motivate those under them to achieve them

In short, leaders are people who:

stand out from the crowd
do the unexpected
challenge the status quo - strive to find new directions, popular or otherwise
focus on achievement - getting somewhere new or better first
are self-absorbed in their dedication to achievement
may make others uncomfortable by rejecting the familiar

.
This particular section of the post struck me with almost grotesque irony, however. I don't intend this to be impertinent though it may sound that way, but this quote serves as a perfect description of how Daniel Snyder became a billionaire.
 
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B&G

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I'm not sure I understand the point you're trying to make in your last paragraph although I'm interested in knowing. Please explain.
 

servumtuum

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I'm not sure I understand the point you're trying to make in your last paragraph although I'm interested in knowing. Please explain.
It's not a point I was trying to make so much as an observation-leadership is a position taken, or, perhaps more accurately, a set of actions taken to maximize the probability of achieving a desired goal-examples of which abound including, in the case I mentioned, Dan Snyder's business success. He did indeed;

"stand out from the crowd
do the unexpected
challenge the status quo - strive to find new directions, popular or otherwise
focus on achievement - getting somewhere new or better first
was self-absorbed in his dedication to achievement
made others uncomfortable by rejecting the familiar"

in the way he operated in marketing and business acquisitions and was wildly successful. After reading what you posted the irony struck me that the one about whom so much diatribe has been written and upon whom we have heaped so much blame for the state of the Redskin football team-most notably its lack of leadership and direction-exemplified in another context those selfsame qualities.
 

B&G

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Yes, I understand now and completely agree with you. Thanks!
 

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