Vince Lombardi: Italian of the Week

Vince Lombardi Being Carried Off the FieldTo get ready for the Super Bowl tomorrow, we thought we’d put the spotlight on one of the
greatest football coaches in history: Vince Lombardi.

Photo: ESPN/AP

Vince Lombardi was born on June 11, 1913 in Brooklyn, NY. He was the oldest of five children and the son of an Italian immigrant. When Vince was a teenager, he had his sights set on becoming a priest. Luckily for football, he changed his mind after two years of being in a seminary-type school. Vince eventually enrolled at Fordham University, where he was the football team’s fullback. He was known as one of the “Seven Blocks of Granite” – a title bestowed upon Fordham’s offensive line.



Before finding his way to the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi held several coaching positions. He began his career at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, NJ. After eight seasons, he left for a new coaching job with his alma mater – Fordham. Vince stayed on for two years before leaving for West Point, where he was an offensive line coach. In 1954, Vince joined the National Football League as the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants.

In 1959, Vince Lombardi began his job as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. In his rookie season, he was named NFL Coach of the Year. During Lombardi’s time as head coach, from 1959 to 1967, Vince led his team to 5 NFL Championships, including three straight titles (65-67) and two Super Bowl wins.


Photo: ESPN/Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Lombardi’s life was cut short when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer in June, 1970. Ten weeks later, on September 3, he passed away at the age of 57. In 1971, Lombardi was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and later into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.

Shortly after his death, the NFL decided to rename “The Super Bowl Trophy” to the “Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy,” ensuring his life and legacy will not be forgotten.

Sources: Vince Lombardi Official WebsiteVince Lombardi Biography 

Each week, we will bring you a new post highlighting an important Italian or Italian American.
Have suggestions on who you’d like to see next? Email us!

4 thoughts on “Vince Lombardi: Italian of the Week

  1. I have a very warm memory of Vince Lombardi and my Italian maternal grandfather. My grandfather and his family are from the Agrigento region of Sicily. My grandfather never really understood American football. He was more a fan of (faux) wrestling. When our family watched football together, my grandfather oftentimes chuckled when the offensive team huddled. He would frequently say: “look at all those guys putting their heads together” and then he would laugh. After the Green Bay Packers won the championship, my Nonno made another comment that has stuck with me over the years. Vince Lombardi was being interviewed in the locker room on TV. Then, after Lombardi made his comments, some players were permitted to step forward to comment on the game. In the old school football tradition of the time, the players were very respectful and deferential to their head coach. Also, Lombardi’s players when interviewed oftentimes responded very eruditely with insightful observations and recollections of the game. All of a sudden my grandfather blurted out: ” all these guys talk like they are doctors and lawyers”. My uneducated grandfather made a great commentary on the quality of the players Vince Lombardi recruited. They were smart players and many of them had good careers after football was over for them.

  2. Thanks for this story. As historian of my lodge it is always wonderful to share our fellow Italian’s history with our brothers and sisters. I didn’t know Vince came from Brooklyn, what a bonus!

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