Vince Lombardi’s “Packers’ Sweep” is probably the single most famous play in football. And, if it is not the most famous play on the field, it is undoubtedly the most famous play to have ever been diagrammed. Very few football fans cannot recall the famous “seal here, and a seal here and he runs…. in the alley,” even if they don’t even know what was actually being described; such was the magic of Lombardi.
Whether or not you understood the play itself, you certainly understood the import: A tough runningback turning the corner with a couple of offensive linemen as his personal bodyguards. But, of course, as Vince Lombardi himself explains, a play is just a play; there’s nothing magical to it. It’s about attitude and execution, and, as he also explains in the videos below, the right play comes to personify the heart and soul of an entire team; it makes the whole enterprise go.
But that was then, the common refrain goes. Whether because of the speed of the game, the evolution of offense, or simply the death of the fullback position (which you can see in the diagrams and video had probably the most crucial block in the whole play), the play is simply no longer relevant, having been replaced by zone blocking. Indeed, Bill Walsh’s 49ers, shown in a photo from 1986, was one of the last major NFL teams to run this play.
And it is kind of true that the play is not nearly as popular as it once was, but it — or at least some very similar concepts — have been making a bit of a comeback.
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