Vince Lombardi’s First Book – Run to Daylight

May 3, 2017

The book Run to Daylight was published in 1963 and was a unique look at professional football. The book centers around one week in the life of Vince Lombardi and the Packers as they met the Detroit Lions in October, 1962. The Packers were on another championship run. The book was actually written by W.C. Heinz, one of the best free lance sports writers of the day. Heinz followed Lombardi around for a week in meetings, at home and at practice. He then interviewed Lombardi for details and wrote it as though Lombardi spoke every word. Heinz realized quickly that Lombardi did not have the patience to actually write or dictate the book himself. The book was republished in 2014 as a 50th anniversary edition. A paperback copy is available on Amazon for $9.55.  A great deal of Lombardi’s philosophy is revealed in the book.

The book is a great piece of football history from the 1960’s. Lombardi even describes how they swapped film with opponents by driving to the airport in Milwaukee and putting it on a plane. NFL teams did not get the past Sunday’s game of their opponent until Tuesday or Wednesday. After watching the film, they had to send it to the their opponent’s next team on the schedule by Thursday. It was a long way from Hudl. Lombardi was a detailed planner and still had a scout employed who would go and watch next week’s opponent and bring him a detailed scouting report on Monday.

The book begins with Lombardi trying to sleep following the Packers 49-0 victory over the Chicago Bears. He was concerned about his old friend, Chicago coach George Halas, and the upcoming game with the Lions. He couldn’t seem to sleep even after such a great victory.

Photo courtesy of Simon and Schuster

It is what success does to you. It is like a habit- forming drug that, in victory, saps your elation and, in defeat, deepens your despair. Once you have sampled it you are hooked, and now I lie in bed, not sleeping the sleep of the victor but wide awake, seeing the Detroit Lions who are coming in next Sunday with the best defensive line in the league.

 Coaches will recognize many of the situations and relationships in the book that are still applicable today in the coaching profession. His wife, Marie states, “We just don’t talk to him from Monday to Wednesday during the season.” There is strategy and technical talk that coaches will be familiar with even after five decades. He often talks about why the Packers do something a certain way, and it almost always has to do with an incident that occurred in his coaching past.

Run to Daylight is 237 pages and a book that all football coaches with a sense of history should read. With each day of the week you discover how the great Lombardi handled everything during a game week. Lombardi shared his views on life, the game, coaching, success, family and the famed “Lombardi sweep. “ It is a manuscript that a coach can richly enjoy, yet learn numerous things that can help him become a better coach.

The introduction of the 2014 anniversary edition is written by John Madden and is worth the price of the book.