Anyone who likes the NFL will be very aware of the name ‘Vince Lombardi’. Many will think about the latest year’s NFL odds and outright winner when they hear that name, because we relate it to the trophy – yes, the one that teams get their mitts on when they win the Super Bowl!
However, there is more to the man than a simple association with the trophy that players win if they make it to being the Super Bowl champions. He was much more.
He accomplished a great deal as a coach, but his impact actually went long beyond the world of football.
He was one of the first-ever people to really integrate the sport. He was a coach who did not care what your race or religion was, he was a man looking for talented players who would change the game.
So, what legacy has he left behind, and what is there that can be said for a man like this, with such a heavy influence in the sport?
Who Was Vince Lombardi?
Vince Lombardi got a great taste of the NFL as an offensive assistant under Howell who was coaching the Giants back in ‘54. However, prior to this he was coaching at St. Cecilia in New Jersey for around 8 years as well as 2 years with Fordham University too.
Lombardi was an offensive coordinator under Howell, and he built up the offense of the G-Men, centered around Gifford.
In his 5 years focused with this team he made them very successful, and in ‘56 they won the title and Gifford was an NFL MVP.
In his last year they lost in sudden-death overtime. But, by now he was already very well known in the league, and he was endorsed by Brown of the Cleveland Browns and Halas of the Bears for being a head coach with the Packers.
There was a meeting between Lombardi and the Packers, and soon he was hired as the general manager and the head coach of the Packers, he started in 1959.
The Packers were not doing super well around this time, and Lombardi knew he needed to give them a boost. They had finished at 1-10-1 the year prior to Lombardi coming in, their decade at that point had been 32-74-2, which was not a very hot rate.
The results on the field were not amazing, but there had been a lot of talent on the field, they just needed Lombardi’s help.
When Lombardi looked at the footage of the offensive team from 1958, he noticed Hornung, this man really caught his eye. He was encapsulated by Hornung.
Truthfully, Hornung was the answer for Lombardi, he was the Packer’s Gifford in his eyes, and that is what he needed. In some ways Hornung may well have been exactly what took Lombardi to the Packers.
An NFL Legend
His integration is only one of the thighs that make him an NFL legend, more than this his influence on the Packer sweep, which was influenced by his meeting on Hornung and his training with the Giants, was another factor that made him a legend.
He was the Packers coach, and he converted Hornung to full-time halfback in his time, and he also designed play for many of the players, to optimize the teams’ offense, changing them over from being a losing team to being successful offenders and winners.
Lombardi was only eyeing up the Green Bay Packers in ‘58, and he only started coaching them in ‘59, but by ‘61 he had trained them so well that they won their first-ever title, and just like Gifford did, Hornung won the NFL MVP Award that year too.
Winning became a common occurrence under Lombardi, and he was just the ticket that the Packers needed to change things around and become the team they needed to be.
However, the skill and the winning did not stop there, they actually ended up winning 3 NFL titles from ‘65 to ‘67, Lombardo had them stealing the game on repeat, and it was a sight to behold for them.
Having gone from chronically losing to doing so well that they made 3 Titles in 3 years is one hell of an achievement, and this was all still within the same decade that he had started coaching them. It did not take long!