From David Maraniss' 1999 biography of Vince Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered:
Year by year, as his reputation grew beyond Englewood, it became clearer to him that coaching was his life's calling. Football coach was not what Harry and Matty had expected of their son, nor what his old classmates had predicted. In some ways it was a job below his own self-image. All of which worked in his favor.
During his years in Englewood, Lombardi was driven by a contradiction, consumed by a sport and somewhat embarrassed that it was considered merely a game. This had two consequences: it intensified his will to win, made it overpowering in him, while simultaneously pushing him to infuse football with something more serious, to find deeper meaning in the WORK and PLAY juxtaposition tattooed above his father's knuckles.
In that mission he had much the same visionary motivation that philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, in a luminous phrase, ascribed to Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and other Catholic mystics---the perception of "an intolerable disparity between the hugeness of their desire and the smallness of reality."