Vince Lombardi: Better Than You

As a current student at the University that shaped the young mind and body (not in a weird way) of the man for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named, I felt it appropriate to talk about the man behind the trophy. And plug my school.  Yay Fordham Rams!

The trophy, originally named the Titletown Trophy (I approve the change), busted onto the scene in 1967 in the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game”, also the same year Lombardi stepped down as coach of the Green Bay Packers. It was decided that the Trophy would keep its mediocre name until someone important died, because as everyone knows, it’s not a trophy until it’s a memorial trophy! Well lucky for them, Vince Lombardi fell suddenly ill in 1970 and was diagnosed with colon cancer.  By the time the cancer was discovered, it had already spread rapidly and Vince Lombardi died on September 3, 1970, at 57.

Though dying young, Lombardi left beyond an astounding record as well as an iconic image. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York and attended, yeah, Fordham University. He was an original member of the “7 Blocks of Granite”, a nickname given to the nationally feared offensive line. Yes, nationally feared. OK, I know this may not seem believable, but back in the 20’s and 30’s, Fordham actually had a pretty impressive football program. So Lombardi played right guard for this squad, making him the 3rd or 5th block of granite, depending on which way you look at it.  Lombardi graduated in 1937, but returned 10 years later to take up the position of Freshman football, as well as basketball coach. Within a year he was named the assistant coach for Fordham University, and shortly after took a job as an assistant for the U.S. Military Academy. From 1954 to 1958, he worked as the Offensive coordinator for the New York Giants, before taking the head coaching position for the Green Bay Packers.

Lombardi coached the Packers from 1959 to 1967. He also served as the team’s General Manager from 1959-1968. The season prior to his hiring as head coach, the team finished 1-10-1 under a guy nicknamed Scooter (he resigned after the only year he had the job). In Lombardi’s 8 years, he racked up 5 NFL championships, victories in Super Bowl 1 and 2, a win in the historic Ice Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys, and finished with a record of 98-30-4. After retiring from coaching after the 1967 season, Lombardi returned to take the reigns of the Washington Redskins. He coached for one year there, breaking 14 straight years with a losing record.

Basically, Lombardi owns football. Arguably the best coach to have ever lived, Lombardi’s legacy will continue to live on this Sunday when the Lombardi Trophy is hoisted up by Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning, or due to some ridiculous scenario, Curtis Painter. So, kids, remember, when you are sitting around the living room, eating wings and drinking your coca-colas, those teams are out there playing for something. They are playing for the organs of Vince Lombardi, which are kept inside that trophy.

Unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it – his mind, his body, his heart – what’s life worth to him?” – Vincent Thomas Lombardi

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