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  • Writer's picturePeter Miller

In the second episode of our Running a Championship System (RCS) series, we were joined by Pat Richter, a legendary athlete and leader in Wisconsin and beyond. While many people first recall his exploits as a multi-sport star and trail-blazing athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, he also has deep ties to Coach Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers franchise, where Pat served on the board of directors.

We discussed:

1. As a youngster, learning to be tough and competitive from older guys in the neighborhood.

2. Playing three sports at UW.

3. Awareness of football growing up – mostly George Halas and the Bears. There was less interest in the Packers until Lombardi started building.

4. Seeing Lombardi visit Madison when Pat was still in high school…and his early impressions of Lombardi.

5. Catching a 73-yard touchdown as a college all-star against Lombardi’s Packers.

6. Lombardi’s reputation among players: tough, efficient, fair, winner.

7. One of Pat’s initial practices under Lombardi – taking a hard hit, broken nose, and keeping on playing. “I thought that’s what he’d want.”

8. “He had a great ability to get you to the end of the rope, so teed off, flustered and things like that … and then he’d pull you back in.” There was a compassion there.

9. “He was efficient.”

10. Lombardi’s skill as a psychologist – examples after wins and losses.

11. Lombardi’s lack of coaching tree. His former coaches and players were not successful in coaching.

12. “Lombardi time.”

13. Lombardi’s ability to be both entertaining and cold.

14. Lombardi being completely drained after games – would fall asleep on bus to airport.

15. Pat’s son’s interaction with Coach Lombardi at practice. “Hi there, Vince!”

16. Professionalism.

17. “The greatness of a loss is not so much determined by what was lost than by what was left.”

18. Making Sonny Jorgensen the team leader.

19. Taking a leadership role at Oscar Mayer. “Providing added value.”

20. Lessons took from Oscar Mayer to UW: culture, strategic planning.

21. Would Coach Lombardi be successful today?

22. Keys to leadership: listening, integrity, honesty, creativity, adding value.


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