Birthday: June 11, 1913
Died At Age: 57
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Thomas Vincent Lombardi
Born in: Brooklyn
Famous as: American football player
American Football Players
Spouse/Ex-: Marie Lombardi (m. 1940–1970)
siblings: Claire Lombardi, Harold Lombardi, Joe Lombardi, Madeleine Lombardi
children: Susan Lombardi, Vince Lombardi
Died on: September 3, 1970
place of death: Washington, D.C.
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: Fordham University, St. Francis Preparatory School
awards: 1959 - AP NFL Coach of the Year
1971 - Pro Football Hall of Fame
1967 - Super Bowl I champion
1968 - Super Bowl II champion
1956 - 4× NFL Champion
1961 - 4× NFL Champion
1962 - 4× NFL Champion
1965 - 4× NFL Champion
1975 - Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame
1997 - Washington Redskins Ring of Fame
Who was Vince Lombardi?
Vincent Thomas ‘Vince’ Lombardi was an American football player and a famous coach. He wasn’t a head coach in the National Football League for a long time, but in his ten years as a head coach of Green bay Packers and Washington Redskins he set the standards for all other teams by building the Packers into an NFL dynasty. When he finally landed a job in NFL, it wasn’t as a head coach, but as an assistant coach to the New York Giants. During Lombardi’s reign in Green bay, he led the packers to six divisional titles, five national football league championships, and two super bowl wins. Lombardi’s regular-season winning percentage is remarkable which ranks up with the all-time great NFL coaching records. With his success, he became the National celebrity but it wasn’t just his ability as a coach that attracted people. It was his philosophy about football and life in general that struck a chord with American public. As the ultimate testament to his lasting influence on professional football, each year’s Super Bowl winners hold the trophy that bears his name. He was also inducted in to the pro football hall of fame in 1971.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born to an Italian immigrant Enrico ‘Harry’ Lombardi and his wife Matilda ‘Mattie’ Izzo and was the oldest of their five children. He was raised in a strict Catholic household and was made an ‘altar boy’ at St. Mark’s Catholic Church.
At the age of 12, he started playing in an organized un-coached football league in Sheepshead Bay. In 1928, he enrolled in the Cathedral College of Immaculate Conception to study for the priesthood. After completing four years there, he enrolled at St. Francis Preparatory high school where he became a charter member of ‘Omega Gamma Delta’ fraternity.
In 1933, he went to Fordham University on a football scholarship to play for the Fordham rams and coach Jim Crowley. He was one of the footballs team’s ‘Seven Blocks of Granite’, a nickname for the team’s sturdy offensive line there.
On June 16, 1937, he graduated from Fordham’s University and attended the law school in the evening while working for a finance company during the day. But he soon dropped out from the Law College since his grades were poor.
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In 1939, he became the assistant coach at St. Cecelia high school, a Roman Catholic high school in Englewood, New Jersey. In addition to it, he also taught Latin, chemistry and physics at the high school and soon became the head coach there in 1942.
In 1943, St. Cecelia’s football team reached the pinnacle of glory under his coaching. While there, he also became a member of the Burgen County Coach’s association. He stayed at Cecelia for eight seasons and then returned to his alma mater.
In 1947, he became the coach of football and basketball at Fordham University. In the following year, he served as an assistant coach there for Fordham’s varsity football team and gave up his coaching career at the University after few seasons.
He continued his coaching career at West Point as an offensive line coach under legendary head coach Earl ‘Colonel Red’ Blaik. During this time, as an assistant to Blaik, he identified and developed what later became the hallmark of his great team- simplicity and execution. He served there for five seasons and then switched on to the other team.
In 1954, he began his New York football league career with the ‘New York Giants’. There he took a job of offensive coordinator under new head coach Jim Lee Howell. He worked there for five years and led them to five winning seasons, culminating with the league championship in 1956.
He signed a five-year deal, in 1959, to head the football team ‘Green Bay Packers’ and transformed the struggling packers in to an emerging champion. During his career there, he led the football club to five championships including victory in Super Bowl I and II and the team never encountered a losing season.
In 1969, he left Green Bay and returned to the field as the head coach of the ‘Washington Redskins.’ He led the club to its winning record in more than a decade and brought a winning attitude to the team.
Awards & Achievements
In 1967, he received the Fordham’s highest honor, the ‘Insignis medal’ for being a wonderful teacher. After four years, he was inducted into the Fordham’s University Athletic Hall of Fame.
In 1969, he received the ‘Silver Buffalo Award’ by the Boy scouts of America and two years later was enshrined in the NFL’s pro football Hall of Fame.
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In 1976, he was elected to the Wisconsin’s athletic hall of fame. After few years, in 1988, he was inducted in to the American football association’s semi-pro football hall of fame. Finally in 2008, he was inducted into the New Jersey hall of fame posthumously.
Personal Life & Legacy
On August 31, 1940, he married his sweet-heart Marie Planitz with whom he had two children, a son named Vincent Harold Lombardi (Vincent Jr.), and a daughter named Susan.
A fourteen foot statue of Lombardi was erected on a plaza outside the stadium as a part of Lambeau field renovation. The statue was in an overcoat grasping the program, as he often did on the sideline. In 1968, highland avenue in Green Bay was renamed Lombardi Avenue.
The NFS Super Bowl trophy was renamed the Vince Lombardi trophy after him. In 1970, the rotary club of Houston created the Lombardi award which is given annually to the best college football offensive or defensive, lineman or linebacker.
The football field at Old Bridge School, New Jersey, is named Lombardi Field and a plaque dedicated to him was installed in 1974 in the sidewalk near Sheepshead bay road and East 14th street in Brooklyn, New York.
At Fordham University, the Vincent T. Lombardi center was named after him. The Vincent T. Lombardi council number 6552, Knights of Columbus, in Middletown, New Jersey is also named after him.
Vince Lombardi passed away at the age of 57 years due to colon cancer in September of 1970
He introduced ‘zone blocking’, as an offensive concept, to the NFL.
In 1968, he starred in a short motivational film titled ‘Second effort’ that has been branded as the best-selling training film of all time.