The 25 Finalists (The Influence of Coaching)

Today, I discuss the impact of coaching and how it unlocks the hall of fame pyramid.

When compiling a list of the ten greatest Packer players of all-time there are many things about the historic franchise that stand out.  First and foremost, is the impact that Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi had on the NFL history books.  A vast majority of the finalists played under one of those two coaches and it really got me thinking about how great coaching is unique to football.  In other sports, winning and losing is driven by player empowerment.  Do you really think Eric Spoelstra was an immortal coach for winning 2 NBA Championships in 4 years with the likes of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and even Ray Allen (sorry Bucks fans) all on the court at once?  

Yes, great players always make great plays, however, in football great coaches always have a way of giving role players a purpose, making average players good, making good players great, and making great players into Hall of Famers.  The 1960's Packers had generationally great players, but it took Vince Lombardi and his staff to unlock his players full potential and develop some of the greatest positional groups of all-time during that era of championships.  Furthermore, if you ask members of the Lombardi Packers, like Jerry Kramer and Dave Robinson (I actually had the privilege of talking to Dave on a flight into Appleton) they would (and did) say that the key to the success of those Packer teams was the way Lombardi was able to bring both the offense and defense together as one singular unit and how he was able to instill discipline, hard work, and an unbreakable toughness into every member of the team.  

It is a rarity for every member of a team to be on the same page with both their coach as well as their teammates.  When this level of team solidarity is achieved with generational players on the roster, that particular team is able to achieve unprecedented greatness and historic feats like the 1960's Packers were.  This idea of buying into a philosophy, a level of intensity, an unbreakable toughness, and an unwavering discipline to the fundamental principles of football or any sport for that matter; and come to the realization that you are playing for something bigger than just yourself is when great teams become immortal.  

Could the LeBron James Miami Heat teams have gone down as one of the few monumental teams in sports that won four straight championships? Absolutely, yes!  They had the talent, they had generational players on their roster, and they were better than everybody else during their four year run.  So why did this group of hall of fame players fail to become an immortal team?  In my estimation, this group fell short because of a lack of an unbreakable toughness, a lack of fundamental discipline, and an inconsistent continuity with each other as teammates as well as with their coaching staff and front offices' philosophies.

Lombardi and his coaches were able to unlock immortality because they were able to convey to their players that toughness, discipline, and continuity within the team structure would bring championships and that was really all that mattered.     Who would have thought that touchdowns, interceptions, and rushing yards would come from something other than a players given ability and unlock Championships, the Hall of Fame, immortality, and yes, even the Hall of Fame pyramid.

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David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Comments (23)

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packerbackerjim's picture

March 29, 2020 at 08:12 am

Please stick to football. The Heat lost its 2 of 4 years of LBJ and Wade years to very talented Mavs and Spurs teams in the age of free agency, something Lombardi and Lambeau didn’t have to confront. This is obviously not to minimize their accomplishments but only to point out a flawed premise. Managing team chemistry to better ensure success is their common achievement. Spo is as good as there is in the NBA

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DavidMichalski's picture

March 29, 2020 at 11:13 am

You don’t think the Heat were better than the Mavs? IMO that Heat team self destructed. Lost their fundamentals and continuity late in that series (they broke). Those 60’s Packers teams never had a hiccup like that.

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packerbackerjim's picture

March 29, 2020 at 01:52 pm

2011 was the first year the Big 3 had played together. 1960 the Packers lost their first Championship attempt under Lombardi.

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DavidMichalski's picture

March 29, 2020 at 04:59 pm

But won 5 titles in 7 years with a repeat and a three-peat. The success of the infrastructure of his teams translated into so many of his players unlocking their hall of fame potential. I just think those Heat teams lost focus at inopportune times as well as the philosophy Pat Riley instilled within the organization that Spo grew up in.

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packerbackerjim's picture

March 29, 2020 at 05:26 pm

I think your point might have been better made had you cited the Bears only getting one SB with a uber-talented team. It was Ditka-Ryan discord; Spo had to manage LBJ and his attempting to leverage his position to get his wants met, and juggling his outside interests. In no way was it a shortcoming of Spo’s.

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DavidMichalski's picture

March 29, 2020 at 05:45 pm

I definitely could have made a football comparison for sure. I really do enjoy challenging myself to try and compare different sports or sports to pop culture. Definitely a fair take though.

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packerbackerjim's picture

March 29, 2020 at 06:08 pm

I appreciate a lively debate! Thanks.

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Handsback's picture

March 29, 2020 at 10:50 am

You don't have dominating teams like the Packers-60s, Steelers-70s, 49ers-80s, Cowboys-90s, and the NE-00s without talent. You might win a championship here or there w/ great players but great teams that dominate have a lot of talent.
Lombardi unlocked that talent and rode the wave to three straight titles....Would love for the Packers to do it again, but right now just don't see the players capable of doing that. No matter who the coach is, even if Lombardi could be resurrected.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 29, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Players, not Plays.

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Since'61's picture

March 29, 2020 at 12:06 pm

This is a very different era for HCs compared with either the Lambeau or Lombardi eras. First of all the size of the rosters are very different today. Lombardi and Lambeau were not hindered by a CBA which limits practice type and amount of time. Lombardi and Lambeau did not need to deal with free agency impacting their roster continuity every season.

Today’s HCs manage systems and packages as opposed to managing individual players the way Lombardi did. Today’s game requires HCs to be delegaters and managers more than coaches. An NFL team will now have more assistants than Lambeau had players and more than half of the size of Lombardi’s rosters. In this era players are coming and going on every down depending on the down and distance. In the Lombardi days the starting 22 players played all 3 downs and many were on the field for 4th down unless there was an injury.

Head coaches were more hands on and could enable talent to evolve, Bart Starr is an excellent example. In today’s game evolving talent falls on the assistants more than on the HC, with the QB being the possible exception. And even there, if a team has a defensive minded HC, the OC is probably responsible for bringing the QB along.

Coaches still make a difference today, but in different ways than Lambeau or Lombardi did. It was much more personal then, than it is today. Today’s coaches need players who can fit into their systems and packages. Bellicheck has proven to be a master at finding the right players season by season. Brady was his only constant and now he’s gone so we’ll see what happens.

For the Packers it is up to Gute to find the right players for MLF. It’s up to MLF to get the results through his numerous assistants. Time will tell. Let’s see if we have a season first. Stay well everyone. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Duneslick's picture

March 29, 2020 at 12:08 pm

GREENBAY FOOTBALL

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 29, 2020 at 12:26 pm

This author is the Skip Bayless of CHTV, with his silly top ten lists, and claiming one player is better than another. Who cares? It's a team game.

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marpag1's picture

March 29, 2020 at 02:46 pm

Lower your expectations to zero and you won't be disappointed.

This series of articles should never have become a series, and now that it has, it needs to die.

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DavidMichalski's picture

March 29, 2020 at 05:43 pm

I’d encourage both of you to read someone else’s work you respect, that way you get more enjoyment out of the site. Unless you get off on telling me the series sucks every week, then by all means go for it.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 29, 2020 at 07:08 pm

I, for one, will. And maybe you can come up with something a little more challenging than a "top ten" list. What's next....the top 10 left guards in GB's history?
But I wouldn't expect much more from someone who's personal hero, and someone who has motivated your life to, is someone who wreaked havoc on a 19 year old girl in a small town in Colorado and got away with it. While she received death threats, you were out buying his jerseys. I hope you eventually got his autograph.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 29, 2020 at 07:17 pm

Here's a thought for your next top ten list.
The top ten athlete's accused of rape who got away with it, and yet I still consider them my personal hero.
Who's first? We know who David's is.

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DavidMichalski's picture

March 29, 2020 at 07:53 pm

So that’s what this is all about huh? I was pretty transparent in the fact that Kobe made a monumental mistake....he admitted fault on live tv, paid the suit out in civil court, and ended up changing his life’s path and becoming an advocate for young women in sports and in life. To me, that is a 360 degree change and an act of repentance. He knew he screwed up big time and tried to make it right for the rest of his life. Unfortunately I can’t control how the court system treated him nor can I control the insensitive people that made death threats against her.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 29, 2020 at 08:16 pm

I'm assuming you meant a 180 degree change, which would be an opposite view. A 360 degree change would put you right back where you started. You know, as in there are 360 degrees in a complete circle. You went to college, right?
All you did was rave about Kobe and how you patterned your life after him. How he was your hero. How you went out and bought all his gear. I don't ever recall you calling him out for his monumental "mistake". Forcing yourself on someone isn't a "mistake". It's a crime. One he got away with. Hero worshipers like yourself are a stain on society.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 29, 2020 at 08:58 pm

In your transparency about his "mistake", could you please remind us of any comments you made about any sympathy or empathy about his 19 year old victim? I'll wait.
Wow...he apologized and paid out some cash. And then he moved on. Good for him. What a hero!

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DavidMichalski's picture

March 30, 2020 at 09:43 am

There’s no need to say that I’m a stain on society just because you hate me and think I’m a bad person for celebrating Kobe’s basketball career and the fact that he owned his mistake and dedicated his life to making it right by repentance to both the survivor and his wife.

I actually did mention his mistakes and his fall from grace in the post back from the week he died. When you talk about his life you have to bring it up even in kind of the raw eulogy type of tone that was present in the post.

If your take is Kobe got away with a crime because he was a rich basketball player, maybe you should direct your anger towards the eagle county police department and the justice system.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 30, 2020 at 10:57 am

Yet you continue to refer to it as a 'mistake'. If somebody sexually assaulted your daughter or sister, would you consider it a mistake?
The Eagle County police had nothing to do with the charges being dropped. They were dropped because your hero paid off the victim to avoid criminal prosecution. Of course it was because he was a rich basketball player. You're not really that naive, are you?
I'm done with this conversation. I look forward to your next riveting top ten article.

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DavidMichalski's picture

March 30, 2020 at 12:13 pm

My post which was your initial bone of contention believed in the redemption of Kobe coming full circle in his death. Almost like the manner in which he died allowed for this to take place.

Here is a perspective which accounts for both sides of the aisle which everyone was grappling with:

Writing for Esquire, Charles Pierce borrowed from Jim Carroll’s autobiographical novel, “The Basketball Diaries,” writing: “Kobe Bryant died on Sunday with one of the young women in his life, and how you will come to measure his life has to be judged by how deeply you believe that he corrected his grievous fault through the life he lived afterward, and how deeply you believe that he corrected that fault, immediately and beautifully, and in midair.”

I think that my sentiments through my initial piece on Kobe showed that I recognized the “grievous fault” and believe how he lived his life afterwards, allowed for him to have corrected it/ and be redeemed in midair.

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DavidMichalski's picture

March 30, 2020 at 12:22 pm

My point was not to brush his worst moment in life under the rug in my eulogy but show his 17 year change.

Remember I’m eulogizing his career from my eyes as a kid and from the at the time, 72 hours after his death.

Now looking at the case 17 years later, the Eagle county prosecutors office had some very fatal flaws and I totally understand the anger you have. You felt redemption could never be achieved and I understand why.

I also understand why she dropped the charges and why they ended up taking the case to civil court which was where they settled. I think it was an awful saga all around.

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