From David Maraniss' biography of Vince Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered:
They raise larger questions that address the core mythology of football and of the man who went on to become its patron saint, Vince Lombardi. What is the value of competitive team sports? Where is the line drawn between a single-minded desire to excel and a debilitating obsession to win? Are football teams essential to the well-being of institutions and communities? Do athletes deserve special consideration because of this? In a realm where the ultimate measurement is wins versus losses, do ends justify means?
The contradictory ideals of unity and independence, conformity and rebellion, run deep in the American pysche, and along that divide football is the sport most clearly aligned with unity and conformity, for better and worse. When asserting that football builds character, coaches invariably speak of teamwork, discipline, perseverance and loyalty. But even granting football those qualities, are they inherently positive? Or, as the Army honor code scandal suggests, can they also lead to group thinking, peer pressure, blind obedience and an emphasis on team solidarity over individual integrity?
Those were the questions raised in 1951, and in one way or another they would follow Lombardi and define him for the rest of his life.