The Official Vince Lombardi Playbook: His Classic Plays and Strategies Personal Photos and Mementos Recollections from Friends and Former Players


In 1959 the Green Bay Packers were without a coach and almost without hope. Within a year, relative unknown Vince Lombardi would lead the team to a winning record. By the end of the 1960s, Green Bay was hailed as Titletown, USA, and Lombardi's name was synonymous with victory.

Vince Lombardi is remembered for his gruff demeanor and his unmistable sideline presence, for his catchphrases and the loyalty and effort he demanded of his players. But the Packers' dynasty wasn't built ...

See more details below
$22.61 price
(Save 24%)$29.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (31) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $6.99   
  • Used (23) from $1.99   
Sending request ...


In 1959 the Green Bay Packers were without a coach and almost without hope. Within a year, relative unknown Vince Lombardi would lead the team to a winning record. By the end of the 1960s, Green Bay was hailed as Titletown, USA, and Lombardi's name was synonymous with victory.

Vince Lombardi is remembered for his gruff demeanor and his unmistable sideline presence, for his catchphrases and the loyalty and effort he demanded of his players. But the Packers' dynasty wasn't built on folklore and homilies. It relied on the flawless execution of Lombardi's playbook, a collection of diagrams that changed the game of football and served as a model for future generations.

Now, on the fifty-year anniversary of Lombardi's ascension to Green Bay head coach-through a licensing agreement with his estate and with generous cooperation from the Packers Hall of Fame-The Official Vince Lombardi Playbook celebrates and examines all the pivotal strategies. These include everything from the feared power sweep, to the halfback option pass, to the risky third-and-short passes and many others-with more than two dozen shown in Lombardi's original hand. Partnered with images taken directly from the coach's extensive scrapbooks, including speech notes, personal letters, telegrams, and more, these archival gems form an all-access pass onto the field and into the mind of a legend.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Vince Lombardi (1913-70) lived only 57 years, but he left a football legacy that still runs strong. The Vince Lombardi Playbook gathers the most significant personal memorabilia of the legendary Green Bay Packer coach, whose reputation as a brilliant packrat is verified by its rich contents. This 160-page, large-format book covers Lombardi's life and career from his early days as a Brooklyn butcher's son to his masterful strategies and signature plays as an NFL coach. This keepsake also contains reproductions of handwritten letters, diagrams, and speeches; player photographs and reminiscences by former players; and a foreword by Vince Lombardi Jr.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599215365
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,392,290
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Phil Barber has authored or coauthored twelve books, including We Were Champions: The 49ers’ Dynasty in Their Own Words. A journalist who has covered sports, especially professional football, for twenty years, he has been a longtime regular contributor to the Sporting News, consulting with coaches and scouts to expose the chalkboard strategy underlying the sport of football. Most recently a reporter for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, he has approached the game from many angles. Barber previously spent seven years as a senior editor for NFL Publishing. After leaving that position he continued to write for NFL publications, as well as Sports Illustrated and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in Santa Rosa, California.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

The Vince Lombardi Playbook
* His Classic Plays & Strategies * Long-Lost Letters & Documents * Personal Photographs * Recollections from Friends, Family, and Former Players

By Barber, Phil
The Lyons Press
Copyright © 2009

Barber, Phil
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781599215365



Frozen Tundra: The Ice Bowl


On the first day of 1967, the Packers survived a 34–27 game at Dallas to advance to the inaugural Super Bowl. On the final day of 1967, the two teams met again for the NFL title and the chance to play in Super Bowl II. Their efforts — and the Arctic conditions in which they played — resulted in one of the most memorable games in NFL history.


The day before the rematch, it was partly cloudy and about 15 degrees. But a cold front blew in from Canada and harkened the coldest New Year’s Eve in Green Bay history — minus-13 degrees, with a wind-chill of minus-46.


Lombardi used to joke that he prayed for cold weather, which he felt gave his hardened team an edge. Feeling the chill air on December 31, defensive tackle Henry Jordan said, “Vince stayed down a little bit too long for this one.”


Players’ hands quickly numbed, and several developed frostbite in their toes. Dallas quarterback Don Meredith came down with pneumonia after the game and was hospitalized upon his return to Texas. Cowboys halfback Dan Reeves split hislip open on the field; it didn’t bleed until after the game when he retreated to a heated locker room.


Four fans had heart attacks at sold-out Lambeau Field, and one elderly spectator died.


Lombardi had anticipated the event by ordering the installation of an $80,000 underground heating system, 750,000 volts buried about six inches below the turf. The system failed. (Some of the Cowboys swore Lombardi turned it off.) When groundskeepers removed the tarp before the game, condensation immediately froze and formed a slick sheet of ice.


In this improbable environment, the Packers and Cowboys managed to stage a highly entertaining game. Green Bay jumped out to a 14–0 lead on two touchdown passes from Bart Starr to Boyd Dowler. But Dallas got on the board when defender George Andrie scooped up a fumble and rumbled into the end zone, and the Cowboys added a short field goal. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the visitors stunned the home crowd when Reeves threw an option pass to Lance Rentzel, 50 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.


With 4:50 remaining, down 17–14, the Packers took over on their 32-yard line. Methodically they drove down the frozen field, landing at the Dallas 3-yard line when fullback Chuck Mercein gained eight yards up the middle on a fake sweep.


After the Cowboys stuffed Donny Anderson on two inside runs, Starr called Green Bay’s final timeout. There were sixteen seconds left. If the Packers passed the ball, they would have time to kick a tying field goal and send the game into overtime should it fall incomplete. If they ran, it would be all-or-nothing.


Consulting with Lombardi on the sideline, Starr suggested a basic wedge play — with a twist. Instead of handing off to Mercein as the play dictated (and unbeknownst to his teammates), Starr would keep the ball. “Then do it, and let’s get the hell out of here,” the coach said.


On a quick count, center Ken Bowman and right guard Jerry Kramer fired out to knock defensive tackle Jethro Pugh backward, and Starr dove behind them and into the end zone. Green Bay had won the NFL championship by a matter of inches.


Afterward, Cowboys coach Tom Landry still couldn’t believe the Packers had run the ball. “It was a dumb call,” he said. “Now it’s a great play.”


But Lombardi didn’t see it that way. “If you can’t run the ball in there in a moment of crisis, you don’t deserve to win,” he noted. “These decisions don’t come from the mind, they come from the gut.”




The Play




The wedge is among the oldest plays in football, and certainly one of the most basic. The center fires out straight ahead, and the other four linemen, and usually the tight end(s), simply block to the inside gaps. In effect, they form a tight “wedge,” practically shoulder-to-shoulder, to push the defenders off the line of scrimmage en masse.

The wedge isn’t likely to result in many big plays, but it’s a good bet to get you a yard or two if your offensive linemen are strong enough to move the pile.

The wedge can be run from a power formation. On the climactic play of the Ice Bowl, Lombardi ran it from a standard two-receiver set, preserving the illusion that the Packers might be passing. Tight end Ron Kramer blocked down on a Dallas defensive end, and receivers Boyd Dowler and Carroll Dale went after linebackers.

Normally (see diagram), the handoff goes to the fullback in 35 Wedge. Chuck Mercein fully expected to get the ball. Starr and Lombardi were the only two people in the stadium who knew that the quarterback intended to keep the ball and plunge for the winning touchdown himself.


Excerpted from The Vince Lombardi Playbook by Barber, Phil
Copyright © 2009 by Barber, Phil. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword Vince Lombardi Jr. 06

Introduction Right Coach, Right Place, Right Time 08

1 Making of A Coach Lombardi Before Green Bay 16

2 Building Block The Lombardi Sweep 26

3 Run to Win Lombardi's Ground Game 38

4 Short-Short-Long Lombardi's Passing Game 48

5 Green Monster Lombardi's Defense 56

6 Block That Kick Lombardi's Special Teams 68

7 From Skoronski To Greg Lombardi's Linemen 78

8 Brains, Brawn, and Beauty Lombardi's Backfield 88

9 Hired Hands Lombardi's Receivers 98

10 Reaching The Pinnacle The Early Championships 106

11 The Old Guard Prevails The Super Bowls 116

12 Cold Comfort The Ice Bowl 126

13 Fear, Loathing, And Love Lombardi and His Players 134

14 Gone, But Not Forgotten Lombardi's Legacy 144

Appendix Bibliography, Image Credits, About the Author, Acknowledgments 156

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)