Skip to content

Vince Lombardi, the Legendary NFL Coach

Full Name Vincent Thomas Lombardi
Birthday June 11, 1913
Birthplace Brooklyn, New York
Death Date September 3, 1970 (age 57)
Parents Harry and Matilda Lombardi
Spouse Marie Planitz (m. 1940)
Children 2
Education Fordham University
Coaching Career 1954–1970
Teams Coached New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins
Championships 5 NFL, 2 Super Bowls
Pro Football HOF Class of 1971
Twitter @LombardiLegacy
Instagram @rememberinglombardi

Early Life and Football Beginnings

Vince Lombardi was born in 1913 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn to Harry and Matilda Lombardi. His parents were strict, hardworking Italian-Americans who instilled discipline and Catholic values in their children. Football became Lombardi‘s passion from a young age. He played high school ball for St. Francis Prep before earning a scholarship to play guard at Fordham University. There, Lombardi was part of the iconic "Seven Blocks of Granite" offensive line that helped make Fordham a top college program.

After college, Lombardi played briefly in the NFL before taking coaching positions at St. Cecilia High School and later at Fordham as an assistant coach. By 1947, he was coaching at West Point under legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik. This is where Lombardi learned the intricacies of the running game that became his trademark.

The Green Bay Dynasty

In 1959, Vince Lombardi took over a struggling Green Bay Packers squad. Through intense preparation, spirited motivation, and a relentless focus on fundamentals, Lombardi molded the Packers into champions. They would go on to win five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls in the 1960s behind the power running game and staunch defense devised by Lombardi.

Lombardi‘s Packers teams were known for their precision execution of plays like the famous "Packers Sweep." The team would run plays repeatedly in practice until they had them down perfectly. Lombardi‘s larger-than-life personality and inspirational locker room speeches also drove his teams to greatness. "Winning isn‘t everything, it‘s the only thing," was his famous motto.

Lasting Legacy

Though Lombardi‘s coaching career ended prematurely with his passing in 1970, his monumental legacy lives on. The Super Bowl trophy was renamed the Lombardi Trophy in his honor the year after his death. Generations of coaches have tried to emulate his style and philosophy to achieve similar success. Terms like "Lombardi mentality" and "Lombardi-like toughness" are still used today to describe hard-nosed, determined teams.

As both a coach and human being, Vince Lombardi set a high standard of excellence. His ambition, work ethic, integrity, compassion and competitive spirit continue to inspire. There will never be another coach quite like the legendary Vince Lombardi.