This is the third in a series of examinations of football-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous football legends.
A special theme week this time around – all legends related to college football!
FOOTBALL LEGEND: Vince Lombardi coined the phrase “Winning’s not everything, it’s the only thing.”
Vince Lombardi was the coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959-1967.
In those years, he won FIVE National Championships, including the first two Super Bowls.
Lombardi has become one of the most famous coaches in football history.
He has also become associated with the following phrase…
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
It’s one of the great “tough coach” quotes in the history of sports.
Lombardi has claimed that he was misquoted, that he actually said “Winning isn’t everything. The will to win is the only thing,” but that was just a poor attempt at deflecting the actual quote, which he had been recorded as saying at least three times.
However, the quote isn’t actually Lombardi’s.
Lombardi first used the quote in 1959.
The head coach of the UCLA football team, Henry “Red” Sanders, used the quote as early as 1950, and Sports Illustrated actually quoted him saying the phrase in 1955.
So not only was Lombardi not misquoted, he didn’t even originate the phrase to begin with!
FOOTBALL LEGEND: A player played professional football under an assumed name so that he could play college football, as well!
John McNally was going into his last year of eligibility at St. John University in 1925 when he hit upon an idea.
Years later, he said it was based on walking past a movie marque with the movie titled “Blood and the Sand,” but who knows if that’s actually true (not me). Whatever his motive, McNally’s plan was to come up with a fake name so that he could play professional football and still play college ball!
John took the name Johnny Blood, and he played the 1925-26 season for the Milwaukee Badgers.
After graduating from college, he played one year for the Duluth Eskimos.
His longest, and most notable stint came with the Green Bay Packers, who he played for for about nine years in total, winning four championships in the process.
He was a fast runner and a great pass receiver.
He was also quite a character, and a lot of his exploits were later worked into the George Clooney film, Leatherheads…
McNally was elected to the Football Hall of Fame in 1963 – as John McNally, not Johnny Blood.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org