The Lombardi Legacy -- Lombardi as a negotiator


Six-man pro
Kinda interesting how football contracts were negotiated in the 60's.

My godmother used to be pretty good friends with Jim Ringo, the Packers center of the early 60's. Ringo was one of the first (probably THE first) Packer players to hire an agent. When he and his agent went to meet Lombardi (who was also the GM and handled contracts), Jim introduced the agent. Lombardi excused himself from the room and came back a few minutes later, telling Ringo and the agent that he would need to meet with the Philadelphia Eagles, since he had just been traded there. ... negotiator

November 30, 2009
Green Bay Press Gazette

'Legacy' shows Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi as a tough negotiator

EDITOR’S NOTE: In their new book, “The Lombardi Legacy,” author Royce Boyles and former Green Bay Packers linebacker Dave Robinson attempted to provide rare, behind-the-scenes glimpses of Vince Lombardi. Boyles interviewed dozens of former players, coaches and others associated with the former Green Bay Packers coach and general manager who led the team to five NFL championships in the 1960s. The following are excerpts from the book about Lombardi’s contract negotiation methods with players.

When backup wide receiver Bob Long (1964-67) went in to negotiate his contract with Lombardi for the ’66 season it went like this:

“I told him, ‘Considering I only made ($11,500), I think I deserve a two thousand-dollar raise to thirteen-five.’ And this is his response, ‘Well, I’m gonna give you a one thousand-dollar raise. However, if you want a two thousand-dollar raise, I think New Orleans will pay it to you on Monday.’ In other words, if you don’t accept, I’m going to trade you on Monday. I said, ‘Well, considering everything, I think I’ll keep the one thousand.’ That’s how it was; that’s how he negotiated.”


Defensive end Willie Davis (1960-69) explained how he was able to squeeze some extra money out of Lombardi.

“You know, you could hit that moment with him when you went silent and he went silent,” said Davis. “It’s like, ‘Who’s going to speak next?’ I’m checking the walls and finally, he said, ‘Well, you probably want to get on the road back to Chicago.’

“Funny thing, and to this day I was proud that I formed those few words,” explained Davis. “I said, ‘Right Coach, but you know, I was just thinking, the difference in my driving back to Chicago and wanting to stay on the right side of traffic, versus turning into oncoming traffic is the difference in that amount.’

“It was fifteen hundred bucks; and he looked at me … and you could always see him reflect. He was one of the most interesting guys that I’d ever been around. You could see him literally digesting things in his mind, and he sat there for a minute and he looked at me straight in the eye. He said, ‘Willie, if the difference between you driving back to Chicago, getting ready to come back here to training camp versus wanting to turn into oncoming traffic is fifteen hundred dollars, you got it. Now get out of here.’ True story — I walked out of there and I was feeling good.”


Carroll Dale (1965-72) found Lombardi to be, shall we say, efficient during contract negotiation sessions. “Well, they were pretty short,” said Dale.

Lombardi was a devout Catholic with a knack for the unexpected. Dale recalls a surprising contract resolution where two Christians emerged as winners. “One year, Coach Lombardi, being a very religious man, had to reach deep to try to give a little increase, so I told him I always tithe to my church. Green Bay wrote a check to my church for a certain amount; about 10 percent of my contract each year for several years. I got a little increase, but it didn’t show up on my contract, see, so it helped him, helped me, too.”


“See, you didn’t sign your contract. When you reached an agreement with Vince, you stood up, you shook hands with him and then you left,” explained linebacker Dave Robinson (1963-72). “Then later, in about a week or two he’d put the contract in your locker, you were expected to sign it, get it back to him. But, he always told you when you got done, ‘Your contract is the most private thing you’re ever gonna get, no one needs to know what’s in your contract. Don’t talk about it.’ I thought he was joking, I said, ‘Don’t worry about it coach, I’m as embarrassed about it as you are.’ He laughed. But no one talked about their contract.”
Very fascinating. I wonder how he would handle all the prima donnas today? Imagine TO sitting down to negotitate with Lombardi.......
Didn't a contract dispute have something to do with putting Hornung on the expansion list where New Orleans picked him up or Taylor being traded there?
51eleven":329uscac said:
Didn't a contract dispute have something to do with putting Hornung on the expansion list where New Orleans picked him up or Taylor being traded there?

I think that Lombardi put Taylor on the expansion list and really was suprised that the Saints took him; he was at the end of his career at the time. Not sure on Horung (who turned 74 today 12/23, I think) ...