Friday, September 03, 2010

40th Anniversary Reflection

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Vince Lombardi. The Packerville, U.S.A. staff is traveling this holiday weekend, but wanted to present something special to mark the occasion. We have assembled a selection of photos courtesy of Sports Illustrated’s website, which this week posted a gallery of Lombardi images that are not seen too often.

1933: After graduating from St. Francis Prep in Queens, New York, Lombardi went to Fordham University in the Bronx, where he played offensive line for the Rams.

1952: After graduating from Fordham, Lombardi coached high school football in New Jersey before returning to Fordham as an assistant coach in 1947. He left Fordham after one season for an assistant's gig at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he stayed until 1952.

1955: Lombardi's first N.F.L. coaching position was with the New York Giants, where he served as an assistant on a staff that included Tom Landry. The two helped lead the Giants to a championship in 1956.

1959: The 45-year-old Lombardi was named head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers, inheriting a team that went 1-10-1 the previous season. The squad showed immediate improvement and finished with a 7-5 record, earning Lomabrdi Coach of the Year honors.

1965: Much of Lombardi's success at Green Bay can be attributed to quarterback Bart Starr, who threw for nearly 25,000 yards and won two Super Bowls under the coach.

1964: Lombardi was offered the head coaching job of the New York Giants following the 1960 season, but turned it down to stay in Green Bay.

1965: Lombardi, ever the motivator, hung this sign in the Packers' locker room.

1966: Lombardi takes a hands-on approach during a blocking drill. He compiled a career coaching record of 96-34-6 and never endured a losing season.

1967: NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle hands a trophy to Lombardi following Super Bowl I, a 35-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The trophy would later be named after Lombardi.

1968: Frank Gifford, working as a broadcaster for CBS, interviews Lombardi before the Packers 33-14 win over the Raiders in Super Bowl II. Lombardi would step down as coach after this game but continue as Green Bay's GM.

1968: In his reduced role as general manager only, Lombardi sits in a coaching booth above the field.

1969: Lombardi returned to the sideline as head coach and general manager of the Washington Redskins. Here he talks with quarterback Sonny Jurgensen.

1969: Lombardi led the Redskins to a 7-5-2 record in 1969, which broke a streak of 14 losing seasons for the team.

1969: Lombardi shares a light moment with his grandchildren at Redskins' training camp at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn.

1969: Lombardi works out during down time at the Redskins' training camp. He only spent one season as coach in Washington before being diagnosed with colon cancer in the summer of 1970. He died 10 weeks later at 57.

1970: Lombardi greets fans at the Redskins training field at Georgetown University.

Lombardi's legacy is still strong today. Many of his innovations are still a part of football and his motivational speeches are still being read by coaches across the nation.

Here is Lombardi’s obituary, as it appeared in The Washington Post:

Vince Lombardi Dead at 57; Funeral Monday in New York
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 4, 1970

Vincent Thomas Lombardi, the premier football coach of his time, died at 7:12 a.m. yesterday in Georgetown University Hospital of cancer of the colon. He was 57 years old.

The executive vice president and stockholder in the Washington Redskins' organization had under gone surgery on June 27 for removal of a tumor and a section of his colon.

He was released on July 10 and went to his Potomac, Md., home to rest. But after a week of activity, in which he made trips to New York and Baltimore, he reentered the hospital for additional surgery on July 27 and remained there until his death.

His wife, Marie, and son, Vincent H., were with him at the end.

The Redskins' football team is scheduled to play the Miami Dolphins in an exhibition game in Tampa, Fla., Saturday night and it was announced that the contest would go on.

Head coach Bill Austin will bring the Redskins to Washington Sunday and they will attend a requiem mass at 11 a.m. Monday in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, at which Terence Cardinal Cooke, a friend of Mr. Lombardi will officiate.

Burial will be in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Middletown Township, N.J., near Red Bank.

The body will be at Gawler's funeral parlor, Wisconsin Avenue and Harrison Street, nw, Washington, today from 2 p.m.

Overnight the body will be taken to the Abbey funeral home, 888 Lexington Ave., New York City, for viewing Saturday and Sunday.

There will be a memorial mass in Washington at noon Monday in St. Matthew's Cathedral, at which Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle will officiate.

Besides his wife, the former Marie Planitz,, a native of New Jersey, and his son, Mr. Lombardi is survived by his parents, Mr. And Mrs. Henry Lombardi of Brooklyn, N.Y.; a daughter, Mrs. Susan Bickham of Chicago Heights, Ill.; a sister, Mrs. Harry Brandshagen of Hazlet, N.J.; two brothers, Joseph of Englewood, N.J., and Harold of San Rafael, Calif., and six grandchildren.

Mr. Lombardi became coach of the Redskins in February 1969 and led them to a 7-5-2 record, their first winning season in 14 years.

He came here from Green Bay, where he won six division titles, five National Football League championships — a record three straight — and two Super Bowl games.

Mr. Lombardi retired as coach of the Packers after the 1967 season but continued as general manager for a season before he decided to return to coaching.

He was granted full control of the Redskins with the title of executive vice president and purchased 50 shares of stock in the club valued at $500,000. His salary was estimated at $110,000 annually.

Although he announced after leaving the hospital for the first time that he would be in training camp on July 19, when the veteran players were originally scheduled to report, he named Austin "interim head coach" three days after the rookies reported.

Austin is a former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and was an assistant on Mr. Lombardi's staff at Green Bay for six years.

Only 11 days after Mr. Lombardi began resting at home from his first operation, he went to New York City for a meeting of NFL club owners to discuss a dispute with the players' association.

The next day he watched the veteran players work out on their own at the Georgetown University football field. Four days later, he went to Baltimore to see the Redskins' rookies play the Colts' first-year men in Memorial Stadium.

The next day he visited the veterans again at Georgetown before being readmitted to the hospital.

Mr. Lombardi was born June 11, 1913, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

He attended St. Francis Prep in Brooklyn and Fordham University, where as a 5-foot-8, 185 pound guard he was one of the renowned Seven Blocks of Granite.

He never had a losing season as a coach in a career that began in 1939 at St. Cecelia High School in Englewood, N.J.

In 1947 Mr. Lombardi became freshman coach at Fordham and two years later joined the staff of Col. Earl (Red) Blaik at West Point.

His first coaching in pro ball came in 1954 under Jim Lee Howell with the New York Giants. Five years later Mr. Lombardi was appointed head coach and general manager of the Packers.

He took a team that had a 1-10-1 record the previous season and finished third in the Western Conference of the NFL with a 7-5 record. He never finished lower than second with the Packers after that.

The Packers lost the championship game in 1960, his second season, to the Philadelphia Eagles, 17-13.

Green Bay won the NFL title in 1961 and 1962 and, after a lapse of two seasons, won three straight, plus the first two Super Bowl games.

His overall coaching record in Green Bay, including exhibitions, was 141-39-4 for a .783 percentage.

© Copyright 1970 The Washington Post Company


mike said...

What a fantastic blog about Coach Lomardi. Thanks for sharing it.

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