History Lesson : Vince Lombardi

football, history, lombardi

Ever wonder how the Lombardi Trophy, awarded to the winning Super Bowl team, got it’s name?

It’s thanks to this man, Vincent Thomas Lombardi, whose story is told here by legendary Packers guard, Jerry Kramer:

Would you believe that Coach Lombardi’s original career path was as a priest? Yep, it’s true. After two years of study he decided to switch paths and finish prep school before attending Fordham University. He played football there (as a fullback), but decided to pursue another carrer path – this time, law school – after graduation. Luckily, that didn’t last long. He soon opted for a job as an assistant coach for a local high school and continued to move onwards and upwards, always leaving a trail of success behind him.

His first job in the NFL was coaching as an offensive assistant for the New York Giants (at which time another iconic coach, Tom Landry, was the defensive assistant). In 1959, he became the head coach of the Green Bay Packers.

(And the Packers fans rejoiced.)

Coach Lombardi led the Packers to three consecutive championships – five total –  including the first two Super Bowls. He was recently named the Greatest Coach in NFL History by ESPN, a fact that has never been widely disputed.

Perhaps greater than his winning record (96-34-6) was his work ethic and the charisma that acted as a delivery agent of that ethic. I love these thoughts from former Packers quarterback Bart Starr:

For the folks who weren’t in the meeting rooms and on the practice field, I would tell you the story of how Coach Lombardi approached us when he first came to Green Bay. I had already been there for three seasons, and we had not had much success.

Well, in our first session, he was so strong and dynamic and powerful; when we took our first break after 30 minutes or so, I ran down the hall and into one of the offices and called my wife back here in Alabama. I said, “Honey, we’re going to start winning.” I mean, it was that obvious.

His charisma, his manner was very, very impressive. One of the first things he said was, “We’re going to RELENTLESSLY pursue perfection — even though we know full well that we won’t catch it, because nothing is perfect.” Put the “relentlessly” in capital letters because that’s how he said it.

(That last part reminds me of a recent press conference with current Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. We get the good ones in Green Bay.)

Ready for a video that will start your day right? Here’s a pep talk from Coach with audio clips from his famous speech, What It Takes to Be Number One:

(Want a portable version? Check out the book + CD, available here!)

Author: Beka