On Jan. 29, 1959, the Green Bay Packers tabbed Vincent T. Lombardi — a bespectacled, gap-toothed, bratwurst-fingered, obscure assistant coach as their new head coach and general manager. In 1959 Lombardi’s Packers went 7-5, snapping an 11-year futility run in which the Packers never won more games than they lost. The NFL commemorated and cemented Lombardi’s eminence by naming the Super Bowl Trophy the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The Packers lost the 1960 NFL championship, 17-13. The loss vexed Lombardi and the Packers. 

When they convened for camp in 1961, Lombardi held a football aloft and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Wherein, Lombardi declared he’d drive the Packers to master the fundamentals. They blocked with precision, tackled by wrapping up the ballcarrier and minimized mental errors. The Packers stormed through the 1961 season and punctuated their supremacy by pounding the New Giants, 37-0, to win the 1961 NFL Championship — the first of five championships the Lombardi led Packers snared; they also won the first two Super Bowls.

The suffocating and subversive COVID-19 pandemic prompted me to reflect on Lombardi’s mania to master the fundamentals. For example, Lombardi said, “Football is two things. It’s about blocking and tackling. I don’t care about formations or new offenses or tricks on defense. You block and tackle better than the team you’re playing, you win.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people wash their hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. I’ve seen adults stride away from public restrooms, ad nauseum, without washing their hands. The sight annoys and angers me. Big Ma hammered and chiseled that lesson into my cranium when I was a tyke. Before I had barely stepped outside the bathroom, she’d bellow, “Did you wash your hands?” There’s nothing startling about the CDC tips, but like Lombardi’s fixation on blocking and tackling, they’re effective.

When traveling by bus, car or plane, how often do people cough or sneeze and you look and discover they didn’t cover their mouth or their nose? And then don’t scurry to the bathroom to wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer. They’re unaware or uncaring they’ve transformed themselves into a walking and talking hazardous material site.   When I was a child, I was reprimanded if I jammed my hands into my mouth. Fifty-five years later, the CDC guidelines warn people: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with dirty hands, or in CDC verbiage, unwashed hands.

“Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” is a quote ascribed to Greek physician, Hippocrates, around 400 BC. The statement expresses the idea maintaining a healthy diet promotes good health. As COVID-19 rampages, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it’s imperative to cultivate proper nutrition and hydration. What. That again? Yes. The WHO advocates people eat a well-balanced diet, because those who do tend to experience better health and develop a stronger immune system. 

WHO also advocates drinking eight to 10 cups of water a day. The Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk, Ohio, explains a hydrated body is better equipped to stave off infection. In addition, a hydrated body eliminates toxins and other bacteria that may trigger an illness.

Sean Xian’s Leng, M.D. professor of medicine and immunology at John Hopkins University School of Medicine said, “Exercise strengthens the body and may be the most important lifestyle you can add.”

Furthermore, amid the COVID-19 scourge, exercise proves vital in helping people maintain their physical and their mental well-being.

Marc D. Greenwood is a Camp Hill resident and weekly columnist for The Outlook.