Remembering a winner

Looking at Vince Lombardi’s legacy 50 years after his passing


Photo via Wikimedia Commons (LearningLark) under Creative Commons license

Statue of the late Vince Lombardi outside of Lambeau Field. On Sept. 3, 1970, Lombardi passed away of colon cancer, leaving behind an untouched football legacy. Whether it be from words of wisdom or exceptional records as a coach, there will never be another sports figure like Lombardi.

Daniel Stackhouse, Sports Editor

It has been 50 years since the great Vince Lombardi parted from this world. From the Super Bowl trophy that bears his name to his seemingly never ending wisdom, Lombardi’s legacy stretches beyond football and sports.

Leading up to his head coaching career with the Green Bay Packers, Lombardi started small, coaching at St. Cecilia High School in New Jersey. He made his way to assistant coach at Army, and eventually landed the offensive coordinator position for the New York Giants, helping win the 1956 NFL Championship. He was one of the major figures in the 1958 NFL Championship, also known as the “greatest game ever played.”

In his time with the Packers, Lombardi led one of the greatest dynasties in football history. Taking over after an abysmal 1-10-1 season the year prior, the Packers never had a losing season under Lombardi. Lombardi’s Packers made it to the NFL championship four times, winning three. Green Bay also appeared in the first two Super Bowls, winning both to become the first ever Super Bowl Champions.

Yet, his accolades are only a small part of what makes Lombardi so special. As a coach, he urged committing simple plays with maximum effort. Everything about Lombardi’s coaching style is built upon hard work, and putting in countless hours to get the plays right. With the ferocity of dedication he let on, underneath was a level of compassion that no other coach has ever exhibited.

Though he urged the tried and true virtues of hard work and thorough effort, he taught all of his players loyalty and love. Along with being an emotional force to push his players, beneath the surface he provided care for his teammates that countered his harsh outlook on pushing the team around him. 

[P]eople chase perfection not to obtain perfection, but to achieve excellence.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

A coach he was, but Lombardi was just as prominently an icon for not only football, but all of professional sports. He carried himself as a man of honor. His emotional, yet dedicated and compassionate soul was on display every single time he was in the public eye.

His words of wisdom are used across sports even today. Now, everybody works believing that winning is a habit. Everybody keeps pushing because it’s not about falling, but getting back up. Because of Lombardi, people chase perfection not to obtain perfection, but to achieve excellence.

Fifty years have passed since Vince Lombardi took his final breath. His influence is still strong in the landscape of sports. No other coach is the package of hard work and humanity that Lombardi was. Personally, the ideals of Lombardi have been permanently etched into my mind and shaped my thoughts on not only putting in extreme amounts of dedication, but showing solicitude through it all.

Even if great coaches like Bill Belichick do come by, Lombardi is matchless in his legacy and intimate relationship with the game of football that he shared with so many people. Vince Lombardi left a legacy that no sports figure has left before or ever will.

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” – Vince Lombardi