"Grant says Tiger Mothers and Lombardi Dads often focus on achievements because they're easy to measure."


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    It's not an established usage, but I suppose the reference is to Vince Lombardi (a US sports coach, presumably much preoccupied with helping people to achieve things). Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 17:16
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's an obscure cultural reference, not directly related to "use of English". Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 17:17
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    Note that tiger mothers is at least a little better known. It refers to East Asian mothers (Koreans in particular) who put a lot of pressure on their children to perform well academically. Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 17:20
  • @FumbleFingers even if the reference is obscure, the OP didn't know that. How often do we see names of people or animals that become idiomatic in English abceda.com/nameidiom.htm
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 6:27
  • @Mari-Lou A: As I said, it's not an established usage. I'd never heard of Vince Lombardi before I looked at this question, but his Wikipedia page came up top of the list when I googled Lombardi dad, so I figured it out from there. I was able to guess what tiger moms would mean (by association with tiger economies and such), so I had some idea of what kind of meaning might be involved. Nevertheless, this isn't a matter of language use as such - it's a cultural reference which I'm sure would be meaningless to the vast majority of native Anglophones. Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 12:09

2 Answers 2


I never heard of this expression before, but I did some research on it and think I have the answer.

According to this Wikipedia article, Vince Lombardi was a famed football coach with a high sense of "perfectionism, authoritarian nature, and temper". In his role as a father, he would fit your idiom perfectly. According to this fan page, "he conducted grueling training camps and demanded absolute dedication and effort from his players".

The coup de grâce: In an interview here, Lombardi's son, Vince Lombardi Jr., described his father as having "not so great qualities for a father from the standpoint of his only son".

The expression doesn't appear to be common, however. Google NGrams has no results for any variations of "lombardi dad", and Google Trends show searches for the topic below one hundred per month. It might even have been made up on the spot; the author of your article was once described here as "too weak for football", showing that he at least had an interest in the sport, and according to here he once taught a seminar in April 2012 titled National Football League “Motivation and engagement”. Perhaps the author was just struck by a whimsical desire to display his football knowledge, and perhaps not. It does, however, seem self-evident that the term referred to Vince Lombardi.

  • It may indeed have been made up on the spot, in an effort to find a counterpart to Tiger Moms. The author argues that Tiger Moms and Lombardi Dads focus too much on achievement, not enough on effort.
    – Xanne
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 4:49


"Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing" [...] is widely, but wrongly attributed to American football coach Vince Lombardi.

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