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Vince Lombardi – The Greatest Coach Ever?

Posted on July 22, 2013 by Pete South
Though he was only a head coach for a decade, many consider Vince Lombardi the greatest coach in NFL history.

Though he was only a head coach for a decade, many consider Vince Lombardi the greatest coach in NFL history.

There are plenty of candidates for the title of best football coach ever, but there can only ever be one winner; by common consent, that is Vince Lombardi.

He was a tough taskmaster who thrived on hard work, had exacting standards, and expected nothing less than 100 percent from his players. He coached Green Bay to five championships in his nine seasons at the helm and, in a period that saw the Packers take the first two Super Bowls, the ultimate accolade from the NFL, the World Champions Trophy now bears his name.

Lombardi started his football on the field and was a formidable player on the offensive line at Fordham University but coaching proved his true metier, as modern fans of live football commentary will attest. After working as an assistant at Fordham, he joined the staff of the legendary Red Blaik at Army in 1949.

His professional coaching career started at the New York Giants, alongside another legendary coach in Tom Landry, with Jim Lee Howell as the head; that triumvirate coached the Giants to the 1956 NFL championship.

It was in Green Bay that he found his true calling though, and with a team that had not finished with a winning record since 1947. The Packers hired Lombardi as head coach and general manager in January 1959, after Iowa coach, Forrest Evashevski, turned it down.

The Lombardi “effect” soon had the franchise heading in the right direction, and they went 7-5 in his first season, recording that many wins for the first time since 1944.

Things started to take off once Lombardi has established a foundation though; they played in the NFL Championship Game in Lombardi’s second season and won it all in 1961 and ’62. In 1965, the Packers started a run of three consecutive championships to bring Lombardi’s total to five.

The first two Super Bowls went Lombardi’s way with score lines of 35-10 and 33-14. After that second victory, which came over the Oakland Raiders, Lombardi retired from coaching but retained his role as general manager.

However, the lure of the coaching role and the sidelines were not far away, and he returned to a coaching role with the Washington Redskins in 1969. As he had done with the Packers, he quickly turned around their fortunes, leading them to their first winning record in 15 years, much to the delight of fans betting NFL.

Sadly Lombardi died at a young age, being just 57 when he passed away on the 3rd September 1970, but his legacy – especially at the Packers – will never be forgotten.

His coaching philosophy, ethics, and ethos have provided inspiration and direction for many subsequent coaches, not all of them from within the NFL. Lombardi still holds the highest playoff winning percentage of all time (.900). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame a year after his death.


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