"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."--Vince Lombardi

Professional sports culture has changed in countless ways since the 1960s and '70s. A party-hearty, lifestyle has given way to a more health-conscious attitude. In many ways, it reflects an overall change in the country.

For example, in 1965, nearly 45% of adults smoked at least occasionally (CDC); and many of these smokers had a "pack a day" habit. Naturally, this is a number so large that it includes many professional athletes, coaches, and other sports-related professionals.

One notable smoker was legendary football coach Vince Lombardi; the very same Lombardi that led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships in seven years used to be an unrepentant pack-a-day smoker. The question is: what changed? How was Lombardi able to give cigarettes "the old heave-ho"?

Vince Lombardi's Smoking Days

"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."-Vince Lombardi

Vince Lombardi was one of the first notable figures to take an individual stand against the negative health consequences of smoking.

Upon reading David Maraniss's When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, we found some interesting information about how this legendary coach was able to quit smoking cold turkey.

According to the book, he had been experiencing a series of dizzy spells and coughing fits; these were his first motivation to quit. But he decided he needed some external motivation. To accomplish this, he and his friend Jack Koeppler decided to quit together, agreeing that if either of them smoked a cigarette, they would have to buy the other a steak dinner.

In the ensuing weeks, Lombardi felt far less comfortable pacing the sidelines without his signature cigarette in hand. For the first few days, he said "I'm not fit to talk to anybody." It's a feeling many recent ex-smokers can relate to--between intense cravings and overall irritability, nicotine is one of the hardest habits in the world to "kick".

Finding Your Own Motivation

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."--Vince Lombardi

Now that we've shown how Vince Lombardi was able to make a positive change in his own life "off the field", the question remains: how can you use his techniques to kick cigarettes yourself?

Upon closer inspection, you'll see that Lombardi's success story can point you in the right direction.

  • Find Your "Quitting Point"
  • This isn't as negative as it sounds. For Lombardi, he had grown tired of feeling his health decline. When he began to get head-rushes, dizzy-spells, and coughing fits, he decided he needed to make a change. It's about making a decision to stop damaging your body any further.
  • Use Social Encouragement
  • You don't need to make a bet with a friend, but you should hold yourself accountable via social media, or find a quitting buddy; this motivation helped Vince Lombardi, and it can help you too.
  • Set Realistic Goals
  • We began this segment with a famous Lombardi quote about perfection; it's impossible, but worth chasing.This means that if you are able to cut down or limit your nicotine intake by using e cig juice or some other kind of tobacco harm reduction product, you've still come a long way.

Ultimately, we'd like to leave you with some advice: you'll have ups and downs when you are quitting; it's only natural. But if you "slip up" and buy a pack of cigarettes one day, it's important to remember that you've still had a 90% success rate. Don't throw it away by engaging in "black and white" thinking where you're either 100% a smoker or 100% a non-smoker.