Vince Lombardi is an expected learn. Not just in snowy Packer country where Lombardi made the rest of the NFL scream “Uncle!” but throughout the globe where his level of success and achievement has been unreachable.
I was born nine years after he passed away in 1970, but the most amazing thing to me is how much that man means to a fan base that after all those years cannot stop talking about him, crawling on his imposing statue outside the Lambeau Field Atrium and cannot stop drooling at the NFL’s top prize, rightly named in his honor.
“To this day that is one thing that I’m surprised at,” said Lombardi’s grandson John, who was in New York on behalf of his grandfather to be a part of the “Hometown Hall of Famers” celebration recently. “I thought over time that he would fade from memory. I mean he would’ve been 100 this year. His 100th birthday was in June. And to still be so relevant and referred to is amazing.”
The “Hometown Hall of Famers” is a program that started in 2011 and its sole mission is to highlight the hometown roots of the NFL’s best players with a special ceremony and a plaque that remains in the hometown. The Lombardi family chose to keep the plaque at St. Francis Preparatory School, where Lombardi honed his craft as an offensive lineman en route to earning a scholarship to Fordham University.
It didn’t take long for Lombardi to put the rest of the NFL in a stranglehold. Two years after the Packers finished 1-10-1 in 1958 and were within a whisper of losing the franchise, Lombardi churned out a playoff team for the first time since 1944. Lombardi didn’t stop there as he racked up three NFL championships and two Super Bowls in seven years, numbers that would make any opponent cripple to its knees.
“The greatest achievement is winning three championships in a row which in the playoff era no team has done,” said Lombardi who worked for 10 years in football with the World League, the Cleveland Browns, Vanderbilt University and Tennessee Oilers/Titans. “A lot have won two but no one has been able to win that third one. So it’s that achievement level that I think they’re all chasing. That accomplishment in and of itself is something that everyone can look to who’s in professional sports.