Category Archives: Henry Red Sanders

Winning Isn’t Everything; It’s the Only Thing

Vince Lombardi? Henry ‘Red’ Sanders? Joe Kuharich? Jim Tatum? Murray Warmath? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A controversial uncompromising statement about the importance of winning has been credited to two successful football coaches: Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers and Henry ‘Red’ Sanders of the UCLA Bruins:

Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.

Would you please determine who crafted this expression?

Quote Investigator: The earliest strong match located by QI appeared in the “Tallahassee Democrat” of Tallahassee, Florida on February 7, 1950. The saying emerged from a dialog recounted by the columnist Fred Pettijohn. The name “Frnka” looks odd but is correct. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Tulane football Coach Henry Frnka recently asked UCLA mentor Red Sanders. “Winning isn’t everything, is it, Red?” To which Sanders replied. “No, it isn’t everything; it’s just the ONLY thing.”

There is evidence that Vince Lombardi and other coaches employed this saying in subsequent years, but based on current knowledge Sanders achieved victory; he won the motto creation competition.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading


  1. 1950 February 7, Tallahassee Democrat, In the Pressbox With Fred Pettijohn, Quote Page 6, Column 1, Tallahassee, Florida. (Newspapers_com)