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When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi
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When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  4,258 ratings  ·  174 reviews
In this groundbreaking biography, David Maraniss captures all of football great Vince Lombardi: the myth, the man, his game, and his God.

More than any other sports figure, Vince Lombardi transformed football into a metaphor of the American experience. The son of an Italian immigrant butcher, Lombardi toiled for twenty frustrating years as a high school coach and then as an
Paperback, 544 pages
Published September 3rd 2000 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1999)
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This is a book about one of the greatest football coaches ever, Vincent Lombardi. This story depicts the life of Lombardi, from growing up in New York, to coaching at West Point, and then to coaching the Green Bay Packers. Not only does this story go into Lombardi the coach but also into Lombardi the father and husband.

Main Character:
Vincent Lombardi, a complex man who believed "God, Family, and the Green Bay Packers, in that order".

Other Interesting Information:
As a life long Packers f
Evan Leach
David Maraniss is a truly gifted writer (his take on Clinton, First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton, is probably the finest biography I've ever read), and he does full justice to a football titan with this book. This is the definitive biography of Lombardi, and the only thing holding me back from a glowing 5-star rating is that Lombardi simply isn't the most fascinating subject for a 500+ page bio. He was a driven man who enjoyed phenomenal success, but even as an avid football fan I t ...more
Kai Palchikoff
Nov 16, 2014 Kai Palchikoff marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
When Pride Still Mattered is the quintessential story of the American family: how Vince Lombardi, the son of an immigrant Italian butcher, rose to the top, and how his character and will to prevail transformed him, his wife, his children, his players, his sport, and ultimately the entire country. It is also a vibrant football story, abundant with accounts of Lombardi's thrilling life in that world, from his playing days with the Seven Blocks of Granite at Fordham in the 1930s to the glory of coa ...more
Scott Martin
An outstanding sports biography. There are certainly many lessons that people can take from this book. Yes, Lombardi had a rep for being a totalitarian, win-at-all cost coach who always demanded perfection. This is not inaccurate, but it is not the complete story. He was as much a teacher, always emphazing the fundamentals, be it in football, teaching physics, or coaching basketball. He did hold to the belief that an organization is only as strong as its weakest link, thus, the drive to get ever ...more
Todd Miles
Excellent page turner. The author brought out the significance of Lombardi’s Jesuit background and how it shaped his coaching and leadership. I learned much about the NFL during the 50's and 60's. I thoroughly loved the book.
Clarke Tichy
When Pride Still Mattered is the story of the American family: how Vince Lombardi, the son of an immigrant Italian butcher, rose to the top, and how his character and will to win transformed him, his wife, his children, his players, his sport, and ultimately the entire country. It is also a great football story, abundant with accounts of Lombardi's thrilling life in that world, from his playing days with the Seven Blocks of Granite at Fordham in the 1930s to the glory of coaching the Green Bay ...more
Almost certainly the most well-researched sports biography I have ever read.
Jake Fitzgerald
Jan 15, 2015 Jake Fitzgerald marked it as to-read
I read a book called “When Pride Still Mattered Lombardi,” by David Maraniss. This is a biography about one of the best coaches in NFL history, Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. Vince Lombardi grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His father worked at a meat cutting shop. One time Vince was working the meat hook got stuck into his left thigh (he would never work there again). In addition, Lombardi was the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and Tom Landry was the offensive coordinator. T ...more
Feb 21, 2015 Liz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: loaned
If you're any sort of football fan, you've heard of Vince Lombardi. The trophy that gets lifted in the air when your team wins the Super Bowl, the biggest game in all of football, has his name on it. He's a legend, an ideal...a myth. And this myth-person is what David Maraniss sets out to - not destroy, but to reveal, I suppose. He makes it clear from the start that this particular biography is not a prostrate worshipping of a legend - that wouldn't be anything new to bring to the table. Instead ...more
Andy Spear
A good biography will make the reader feel not only as if the author knew their subject personally, but that they did as well. Maraniss succeeded in this endeavor. The author is able to convey how Vince Lombardi was more than a manager. He was a smart man and a great leader who knew how to manipulate the talents and minds of those around him to achieve a solidarity between them for a success they both could share. Lombardi had a mania to him that drove him like a war chariot, always charging ahe ...more
Aaron Million
Solid, absorbing biography of a very complicated human being. The mythology of Lombardi over the decades has strayed far from what he was really about. As Maraniss shows, this began even before Lombardi died in 1970. As with all of us, he often exhibited the very character flaws in himself that he readily criticized others for. Example: he said that family was most important to him, yet had a poor relationship with his son, a not quite as poor but still unsatisfactory relationship with his daugh ...more
I guess this review is more about the format than the actual book, but sweet bleeding Jesus on the cross, do biographies alway have to be so dry? In any other book, a cohesion of direction and story arc is a must. For reasons unclear to me, biographies exist in their own world...a world in which the exact dates of Vince Lombardi's attendance to summer camp at age 8 are presented as pertinent information. This is a problem for me. Just because it happened, and, due to some fluke of research, this ...more
Tom Gase
A very good biography on one of football's greatest coaches who ever lived.

David Maraniss, who also wrote great books on Roberto Clemente and the 1960 Olympics in Rome, does an outstanding job taking the reader through the long and great life of Vince Lombardi, the coach of the Green Bay Packers who led his team to five championships in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls ever played.

In this book you learn a lot about the five championships Lombardi won, the famous Ice Bowl game in
my review: . overall i thought the book was very well written and AMAZINGLY comprehensive. it had an enormous amount of detail - you felt as if you literally knew lombardi and his family. i was fascinated by the reality of his experiences and trials - not just football related but throughout his life.

the first part was heavy on his coming of age, which i found a bit hard to get through - as i'm not obsessed with football, just the packers. i wanted the packer stuff! but most people i'm sure woul
Jan 02, 2012 Paul marked it as to-read
From William C. Taylor, Author of "Practically Radical"

What are your three favorite business books, and why?

The first is Weird Ideas that Work by Bob Sutton, the endlessly interesting Stanford professor who should be familiar to most members of the Fast Company community. Bob's book is the smartest and most original take on leadership and organizational creativity that I've read, and it is just so witty and fun. I love it and have learned so much from it.

Richard Bray
I hadn’t been out of college very long when my father, as a Christmas gift, gave me a plaque featuring a snippet of a Vince Lombardi speech. It was taken from one of Lombardi’s more common speeches, beginning with the statement that, “Winning isn’t a sometimes thing, it’s an all-the-time thing.” Since my dad gave it to me, I’ve kept it on the wall at my office, first at the newspaper I worked at and now behind me as a community college media relations specialist.

To me, the characteristics Lombar
Jim Hale
Lombardi loomed large in my youth. I grew up as a diehard Cowboys fan, and the Packers were the tough guys that always found a way to win. You just knew they would, mainly because Lombardi was stalking the sidelines, carrying that rolled up game-plan. This is a first-rate sports bio. Maraniss digs deep into Lombardi's life, and much attention is rightly paid to his Jesuit education and faith formation. Equal time is spent examining family issues, many of which were troubling. I had already grown ...more
K De
David Maraniss wrote an exhaustive, near definitive, biography of Vince Lombardi. From his childhood to his NFL Hall of Fame career the reader comes to know the life of Vince. The life of Vince shows the depth of dedication that he had towards his career and the impact of such dedication on his family and friends both positively and negatively.

I read Jerry Kramer's "Instant Replay" many years ago and found it to be quite good, but the Vince Lombardi in that book only shows one side of Lombardi-
Ted D
I'm not sure I've read a better biography. This is a portrait of the man less known as well as of the public figure known to all football fans.
Maraniss doesn't flinch from portraying the harsher side of Lombardi's personality, but when you understand how he became the man we knew, he becomes a more "sympathetic" character.
Even if you're not a fan of Lombardi, I would still urge that you read this wonderful book.
Jake Saunders
One of the best biographies I think I've ever read! Enjoyable from a football history perspective as well as an US religion/culture perspective Good treatment of Lombardi's early life and influences but could have gone into more detail on some of the more famous games. The Ice Bowl gets a detailed treatment but I felt like the book could have included more details about other famous games.
Andrew Smith
I listened to this as an audiobook, read by the author. For anyone interested in sport (like me) it's a fascinating insight into a man who became a top coach: his upbringing, his playing career (limited as it was) and ultimately his distinguished years coaching the American Football team the Green Bay Packers. What I liked most was the anecdotes about specific games and incidents that drew out his personality (tough, driven, obsessed even) and his coaching methods (rigorous, hugely detailed, ver ...more
C. Bennis
This is the quintessential story of American football. This is also required reading for Northern Wisconsin residents, where all the mailboxes are Green Bay helmets. You will love When Pride Still Mattered, especially if you love football. This story will bring joy and tears. The classic glory of Starr, Hornung, Taylor, McGee, Davis and Wood who played for the love of the game and an embarrassing amount of money by today's standards. Enter into the locker rooms and the read about the transformat ...more
Tim Basuino
One of the best sports bios I've read... Maraniss humanizes the legendary Packers coach, but doesn't go overboard in doing so. I hadn't considered the "Brooklyn Catholic in Wisconsin" angle, but this book did a pretty good job in explaining why that was a huge deal.
Tom Hill
Excellent book. I had never read much about Coach Lombardi but found this to be a very well balanced and interesting account of his life. The author did not get carried away with the bigger-than-life aspect of Lombardi but gave us a good look at the man, warts and all. I am always amazed at the sacrifices great mean have to make in their lives, and those closes to them that have to sacrifice also. The lack of closeness with his son and the problems that his wife had to deal with are two examples ...more
A very satisfying biography. Fascinating look at the legendary coach, which will probably be of most interest to sports fans. The author creates a memorable portrait of Lombardi and the era in which he lived.
Karl Schaeffer
I typically don't read Goodreads reviews prior to writing my own, but I agree with another reviewer you said the book is about an "imperfect man playing an imperfect game". The book is well written and exhaustively detailed. It is an interesting look at early 20th century America and the impact of sports on the culture. Lombardi is a pre-Greatest Generation guy in a leadership roll to the Greatest American generation. His leadership style was very popular with the establishment during the late 6 ...more
I was initially excited to read Maraniss's biography of Vince Lombardi. I had read stories from Jerry Kramer, Bart Starr and others who knew the coach and had high expectations. Maybe those expectations were the problem, I don't know, I just didn't enjoy the book at all. I felt the overall tone of the book was negative, probably influenced by Lombardi's son who comes across as whiney and bitter. Fathers and sons often have a complex relationship that is difficult for outsiders to understand. How ...more
David Bard
Excellent book about the greatest coach of all time. Every football fan should read this biography. Mr. Maraniss brings Vince to life with the full force and vigor which Vince displayed every day.
I'm reading this a second time through right now. I'm getting a number of new things out of it. Lombardi was so successful at some cost to his family life. He knew that in order to be the best, he would have to dedicate extra time and attention to being the best, and sacrificed other aspects of his life in that way.

Vince Lombardi-loved, hated and idolized. This is a very thorough examination of his life, his background, belief structure, and motivations. Very detailed and very good. Lombardi was
Spike Pedersen
Being from Green Bay, I had a special interest in the legend of Vince. I did not know him, but he is a god up there. The author did his reasearch on this one and really captured the fustrations that Lombardi delt with. The coach we know was always wise and successful. The reality is it was a long path.
Also I saw David Maraniss at a book signing. He told the story of a kid Lombardi coached at Army who went off to Nam and Lombardi talked of this boy.
When Maraniss did his Viet Nam book, 'They Mar
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David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and the author of four critically acclaimed and bestselling books, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton, They Marched Into Sunlight War and Peace, Vietnam and America October 1967, and Clemente The Passion and Grace of Baseballs Last Hero. He is also the author of The Clinto ...more
More about David Maraniss...
Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America October 1967 First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World Barack Obama: The Story

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“I remember once he began a speech to us by asking ‘What is the meaning of love?’ ” recalled Bob Skoronski. “And this is what he said. He said, ‘Anybody can love something that is beautiful or smart or agile. You will never know love until you can love something that isn’t beautiful, isn’t bright, isn’t glamorous. It takes a special person to love something unattractive, someone unknown. That is the test of love. Everybody can love someone’s strengths and somebody’s good looks. But can you accept someone for his inabilities?’ And he drew a parallel that day to football. You might have a guy playing next to you who maybe isn’t perfect, but you’ve got to love him, and maybe that love would enable you to help him. And maybe you will do something more to overcome a difficult situation in football because of that love. He didn’t want us to be picking on each other, but thinking, What can I do to make it easier for my teammate?” 0 likes
“There never was a champion who, to himself, was a good loser. There is a vast difference between a good sport and a good loser.” In Blaik’s opinion the “purpose of the game is to win. To dilute the will to win is to destroy the purpose of the game.” In this, as in most matters, he was influenced by General MacArthur. He never forgot MacArthur’s words: “There is no substitute for victory.” 0 likes
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