Wednesday, October 27, 2010

That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory

That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory Review

You would almost have to live in a cave or under a rock on a remote island not to have at least heard of Vince Lombardi and the now famous football team he brought from the bottom of the pile to the top. I strongly suspect that most Americans, even if they are not football fans or have never seen a game in their life, are at least somewhat familiar with the Lombardi legend.

This book by John Eisenberg is the well written, and I must say thoroughly researched account of the first year of the Lombardi/Greenbay story. This work is remarkable, or at least interesting, on several levels. While it does not offer any surprises or reveal anything that was or is not already known, it does present a very macroscopic look at a period in time and the events that pretty much changed the world of not only professional football, but professional sports in this country. The author's writing style is quite readable and even though you know what is going to happen, the writer has the ability to keep you turning the pages.

The book begins with an account of just how low the Packers where in 1959 under the leadership of Scooter McLean. It goes into detail addressing all of the physical and mental hurdles that Lombardi would have to face when he took over the team the following season. Quite remarkable really, when you consider the wonderful past this team had. The one portion of the work presented here that I was unaware of at the time of the reading, was the fact that the entire team had been micromanaged by its governing board...i.e. they had been managed and indeed coached my committee; a rather large committee. This committee had pretty well mucked things up over the years. This all changed completely when Lombardi took over.

The author covers every preseason game, almost play by play of that first season under the new coach and the goes on to give an almost play by play account of every game played throughout the year. If you are a football nut, you will love this. If you dislike football, or could care less, then this aspect of the book will have your eyeballs rolling to the back of your head.

But that last comment being said, there is plenty of other information in the pages of this book to keep your interest alive. We not only get a wonderful glimpse into the working mind of who is beyond a doubt one of the greatest coaches, in any sport, of all times, but we also get a wonderful overview of the development of some of the most famous players ever played the game; Bart Starr, Don McIhenny, Paul Hornung, and Boyd Dowler just to name a few.

I found this to be an enjoyable read and was glad to add it to my collection of books on the life of Lombardi. It was a worthwhile read and kept me entertained throughout its reading.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks

That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory Overview

When Vince Lombardi took the job of coaching the Green Bay Packers in 1959, he inherited a team that had gone from legendary to laughing stock. They hadn’t fielded a winning team in over a decade and had gone 1-10-1 in the 1958 season despite having seven future Hall of Famers on the team. They were a team accustomed to losing and in desperate need of a turnaround.
That First Season chronicles that turnaround at the hands of Lombardi, himself serving as a head coach for the first time. The Packers were a team of talented underachievers more used to lax coaching and late nights than grueling practices and curfews. Lombardi’s no-bull coaching style helped hammer them into winners who operated with machine-like precision. Every football fan knows that the Packers under Lombardi were champions, but That First Season shows how he did it, bringing readers the inside story of a sports dynasty.

That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory Specifications

Product Description
In the late 1950s the once vaunted Green Bay Packers were a laughing stock. They hadn't fielded a winning team in more than a decade and were very nearly in jeopardy of losing their franchise to another city. The ultimate low came in 1958, when, with 7 future Hall of Famers on the team, they went a lousy 1-10-1 under a too-soft coach, Scooter McLean. They were desperately in need of a savior, and he arrived via wood-paneled station wagon in the dead of winter from New York City.

That First Season chronicles Vince Lombardi's remarkable first year as head coach with the franchise he would reinvent and etch forever in football history. In a single year, as the grizzled coach who took no bull, he would transform a team of underachievers into winners and reignite a city known for its passion for its sport. Based on exhaustive new research and interviews, That First Season is the seldom-studied prequel to a football career marked by greatness. Eisenberg pushes away the mist that surrounds the Lombardi legend to bring readers the real story of how the seeds of a football dynasty were sown. He also brings alive an incredible ensemble tale of a team, a town and their leader.

Photographs from That First Season
(Click to Enlarge)

The Packer offense took off when Lombardi inserted Boyd DowlerPaul Hornung, a key player in Lombardi's offense
Don McIlhenny runs the ball against the ColtsA fan congratulates Lombardi as he leaves the field

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*** Product Information and Prices Stored: Oct 27, 2010 16:08:04

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