I was in a sports memorabilia store this weekend, and picked up a copy of When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss’ magisterial biography of Vince Lombardi. I’m only twenty pages into the thing, but my glasses have fogged up at least twice (and that was before I even finished reading the Preface.) As the author notes, there is something about Lombardi that transcends the narrow confines of sport and makes his life a metaphor for excellence.
Ironically enough, I also caught sight of a few Brett Favre articles this weekend. Ironic, because if Lombardi is the granite (as in Seven Blocks of) spine of the Packers organization, Favre can be considered its troublesome heart, helping it function at a magnificent level for almost two decades and then, suddenly, causing congestive failure.
And the failure was spectacular, at least from Green Bay’s point of view (and at least until they won the Lombardi Trophy earlier this year.)
Still, I’m glad the team is going to (eventually) retire Favre’s number, even though it would have meant much more had the ego not overtaken the gridiron hero and made his last three seasons a twisted incantation of Lombardi’s credo: winning isn’t everything, it’s the lonely thing.