What Is the Significance of Vince Lombardi's "Number One" Speech?

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Legendary coach Vince Lombardi's "What It Takes To Be Number One" speech is significant because its guiding principles about winning and success may be applied to the personal, professional and sports worlds. Widely considered one of the most influential speeches, the 1970 address was given the year of his death from colon cancer and just a short time before he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The speech features a resilient Lombardi emphasizing his dedication and hard work in an effort to never settle for less than number one, stating, "There is no room for second place," and following with, "It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win."

Lombardi illustrates his stance on achieving greatness by explaining, "Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization - an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win - to beat the other guy." This makes the speech appealing not just to coaches and players, but to anyone striving to be the best at anything he does in life.

Adding to the credibility of the speech is the title, as the coach was a proven winner. Lombardi led the New York Giants to a 1956 NFL Title and then guided the Green Bay Packers to five NFL Championships from 1959 to 1967, including triumphs in Super Bowls I and II. Making the feat even more impressive is that the Packers were dubbed perennial losers prior to his leadership in Green Bay.