Heading Down the Glory Road
By Leonard Shapiro
Vince Lombardi watched as a number of his veteran players worked out before the 1970 training camp, using the practice field at Georgetown University. A work stoppage mandated by the players' fledgling union was imminent that summer, and Lombardi wanted the Redskins to be prepared for anything once it ended.
He rarely ceased being concerned about the team though he had more important things to think about. Lombardi was looking down on the workouts through his window at Georgetown University Hospital, where he was recuperating from surgery. He had been given a room with a view of the field so that he could watch, and several players made it a point to visit him each day after practice.
"I remember him telling me that everyone had to stick together, and if anyone broke the rules, I was going to be in trouble," said safety Brig Owens, the players' union representative. "Even before he was put in the hospital, he came over to Georgetown and told all the guys that he didn't agree with what we were doing, but that he understood it. I went to the hospital to see him with Jerry Smith. He had that bed by the window so he could see who was working out and who wasn't, and he kept telling me to hold everything together. He told us that a team was like a wheel and that if one spoke on the wheel was loose but the rest of them were tight, the wheel would still work the way it was supposed to.
"I'll never forget that. When we left, Jerry said to me, `What do you think he meant?' But I think we both knew and we didn't want to admit it."