Legend of Lombardi still resonates on anniversary of Ice Bowl

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Vince Lombardi

There are certain moments in your life that make such an impression on you, they stay with you forever.

New Year’s Eve in 1967, 55 years ago, the famous Ice Bowl was played in Green Bay. The Packers won with a sneak by quarterback Bart Starr in the final seconds over the Dallas Cowboys.

Green Bay’s 21-17 win came in sub-zero temperatures. Temperature at kickoff was 15 below zero, with a wind chill of minus-48 degrees. Think about how cold the Christmas Eve game the Saints played in Cleveland was (9 degrees at kickoff) and then turn the temperature down another 24 degrees.

That 1967 season was chronicled in right guard Jerry Kramer’s book Instant Replay, written with sportswriter Dick Schapp. I read the book, over and over.

I was also fascinated by Packers head coach Vince Lombardi. Here in our WGNO Sports office, Lombardi posters adorn the wall in the office. When I am tired and lack motivation, I look at these posters and get instant energy.

Vince Lombardi, who won five NFL championships in nine years in Green Bay, speaks to me almost every day.

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”
“I firmly believe that man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies on the field of battle – victorious.”

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”

At 1:00 am on a Saturday morning, when I am leaving the office with two long days ahead, I stare at that poster. I don’t think it is corny or strange to say that poster has gotten me through some long, long weekends.

After the 1967 season, Lombardi stepped away as head coach of the Packers to be the club’s general manager.
In 1969, he returned to the field to be the head coach of the Washington Redskins.

Ironically, his first game as Redskins head coach was at Tulane Stadium against the Saints. I begged my Dad to take me. He did.

For three hours, I barely watched the game. I watched Lombardi.

Years later, when I went to Lambeau Field for the first time, I was fixated on the one-yard line where Starr ran the most famous sneak in NFL history. Whenever the Packers are on TV at Lambeau, Vince Lombardi is on my mind.

His story is one of fascinating persistence. He thought he was going to be the head coach at the United States Military Academy at West Point and was not. He thought he was going to be the head coach of the New York Giants and was passed over.

Lombardi finally got his chance to coach a woebegone franchise, one that suffered through years of ineptitude. He changed Green Bay and the NFL forever.

When the Saints won the Lombardi Trophy, it was extra special. I couldn’t stop staring at it.

The Ice Bowl is one of those games that I actually have pity for those who did not see it. For those who think the Patriots coming back from 28-3 down in the Super Bowl to beat Atlanta was big, think that times 10.

The Ice Bowl took the legend of Lombardi to another level.

“The man at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there,” said Lombardi.

And my favorite of his legendary quotes?

“Perfection is not attainable, but if you chase perfection, you will catch excellence.”

Fifty-five years later, his words ring truer than ever.

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Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

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Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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