Friday, January 14, 2011

"Gentlemen, this is a football"

Vince Lombardi was the legendary coach for the Green Bay Packers from 1959-1967 and then coached the Washington Redskins for one year.  His career stats included 96 wins to 34 losses, six Division championships, two conference championships, and two Superbowl wins.  He won Coach of the Year in 1959, was inducted into the hall of fame in 1971, and is the namesake for the current Superbowl trophy.  What was his recipe for success?  It included a good coaching staff, players who would work and give it their all, ingenuity and clever thinking, and a good fan base.  I personally feel that one of the key ingredients was the opening speech that Vince Lombardi gave his team the first day of pre-season training.  His legendary speech would always begin with the words, "Gentlemen, this is a football."

Players who had played the game of football for years beyond counting, who knew the game and what it was about and their coach would begin with those five simple words, "Gentlemen, this is a football."  Vince Lombardi would then go over the basics of what a football is and its role in the game.  He would then take his team out and show them the field, explaining where the out-of-bounds lines and the end zones were.  He would go over the basics of the game, explaining rules and organization of players.  The question is, why spend time on the basics of the game when everyone knew them?  Repetition is the word that I think of;  repetition and necessity.

In life how often do we need to go over things again and again.  Whether it is training for a position at work or memorizing information for a school exam, we all review the basics over and over and over and over again. 

The gospel is the same way.  I remember every year for seminary we would spend the first two class periods going over the plan of salvation.  Why?  because it is that important!  Elder Russel M. Nelson once addressed this repetition of gospel principles.  He said, "Some of you may wonder if there won’t be some redundancy. Of course there will! Isn’t it wonderful that we can gain the added benefit of repetition. Even the Savior taught the same doctrines multiple times to reinforce concepts. Consider how often He teaches us through the scriptures to believe and be baptizedKnowing that we need to learn principles line upon line, precept upon precept, the Lord repeats many concepts so that we do not miss them. Such instruction...will help increase faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." 

Think of building a house.  If you were to put up the walls without a floor, what would happen?  How about trying to add the roof without the foundation?  I am going to say it is a safe assumption that you wouldn't get very far.  The same is true with the gospel.  How can we build a mansion of faith in Jesus Christ if we do not have an improving knowledge of who He is?

Because of that view of need for basics, I am going to spend the next few blog posts going over the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ as contained in the Articles of Faith.  I know that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass and the Lord wants us to know the basics of His church (See Alma 37:6-7).  I know that even if we think we understand the doctrines there is more for us to learn and apply.  So echoing the words of Vince Lombardi, "Gentlemen and women, this is what we believe..."


  1. Dear Elder Wixom:
    Way to go! Your web page is perfect. I googled for the Lombardi quote so I could use it in seminary during the first week of school. Your digital work will be a blessing to my 150 students. David Mills, Mountain View Seminary, Meridian, ID.

  2. Clarification about Vince Lombardi's statement, "This is a Football." It's a great statement. He was a great man and a great leader. But stick to the facts. He did not repeat that statement every season. His biography only has him saying it one time--after a terrible and embarrassing loss (I want to say, to the Chicago Bears?) At the Monday practice and team meeting he made that statement. They totally revisited the "basics," the team got the message and went on to become the great champions we hear about now. Yes, it's a great message, but let's stick to the facts.


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