Vince Lombardi Bio: Coaching, World War & Death

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Vince Lombardi is considered the greatest coach in American football history, one of the luminaries in the history of all American sports, and the name behind the prestigious Super Bowl trophy.

There are hardly any football enthusiasts who have not heard about the respected Vince Lombardi.

His accomplishments in football as a coach are unmatched to the present day, and he is best known as the head coach of the Packers in the 60s, during which he led the team to straight three and five total NFL Championships.

No coach in NFL history attained more success in less time than Lombardi did during his 9 season stint with the Packers.

The Super Bowl 2023 is just around the corner, set to be on February 13, 2023. Let’s see which team will win this year’s prestigious Vince Lombardi trophy. 

The Man, The Myth Vice Lombardi
The Man, The Myth Vice Lombardi (Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette)

Here in this article, we will talk about Mr. Lombardi in detail. His football career, coaching, accomplishment, and death, we will try to cover everything, so buckle up.

Before getting to the details, here are some quick facts to get you started.

Quick Facts

Full Name Vincent Thomas Lombardi
Known As Vince Lombardi
Nickname The Pope
Birthdate June 11, 1913
Death Date September 3, 1970
Birthplace  Brooklyn, New York, United States
Dies At Washington DC, United States
Father’s Name Enrico “Harry” Lombardi
Mother’s Name Matilda “Mattie” Izzo 
Siblings Madeleine, Harold, Claire, and Joe
Nationality American
Marital Status Married
Spouse Marie Planitz (M. 1940-1970)
Children Susan Lombardi, Vince Lombardi Jr. 
Height 5 ft. 8 in/1.76 m/176 cm
Weight 180 lb./81 kg
Ethnicity Italian-American
Zodiac Sign Gemini
Profession American Football Coach & Executive in the NFL
Education St. Francis Preparatory School, Fordham University
NFL Draft Undrafted
Awards & Achievements Two Times Super Bowl Champion (I, II)

Five Times NFL Champion

Two Times NFL Coach of the Year

Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team

Washington Commanders Ring of Fame

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Super Bowl Trophy Named

Last Job GM Green Bay Packers (1959-1968)
Association New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins
Position Head Coach
Career NFL Stats Win-Loss Record: 96-34-6

Playoff Record: 9-1

Winning Percentage: 73.8%

Overall Record: 105-35-6

Merch  Signed Football, Signed Photo
Last Update February, 2023

Early Life & Education

Early Life

One of the greatest and most important personalities in American sports history, Vince Lombardi was born on June 11, 1913, to Italian immigrant parents Enrico “Harry” Lombardi and Matilda “Mattie” Izzo, in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Vince grew up in a middle-class neighborhood with his four siblings, Joe, Claire, Harold, and Madeleine.

vince as a child
Childhood Picture of Vince Lombardi (Source: Vince Lombardi) 

He was raised in a Christian household, and Church attendance was compulsory for the Lombardi family on Sundays.

He was an altar boy at St. Mark’s Catholic Church. Vince hated it but helped his father with his meat-cutting business.

Football enthusiast as a kid, Lombardi began playing an organized football league in Sheepshead Bay at the age of 12.

Education

In 1928, Vince graduated eighth grade and enrolled in the Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Brooklyn to become a Catholic Priest.

While there, he played basketball and baseball, but because of poor eyesight and athleticism, his performance was affected severely.

vince during garduation
Vince Lombardi (Right) With Fr. Neal McLaughlin And Bishop Aloysius Wycislo During The Graduation Ceremony At St. Norbert College in 1968 (Source: SNC and the Green Bay Packers)

Even though he aspired to become a priest, after four years at Cathedral, he decided to abandon his priesthood and enrolled at St. Francis Preparatory high school, where he became a Charter Member of the Omega Gamma Delta fraternity.

Also, he excelled as a fullback in high school, because of which he received a football scholarship at Fordham University in 1933.

He proved himself as an aggressive player during his freshman year and was projected to start games at the tackle position as a sophomore, but because of his short stature, he was classified as undersized for the position.

He graduated from Fordham on June 16, 1973, amidst of Great Depression which made him hard to find work with fewer career opportunities.

He even tried semi-professional football with the Wilmington Clippers, but his effort quickly proved to be a failure.

After two years of disappointment with the support of his father, Lombardi enrolled in Fordham Law School in 1938, but he thought his grades were so poor that he decided to drop out after a semester.

World War II & Death

War

Just so you know, Vince Lombardi did not serve in World War II.

He was 28 when the nation entered the war, and because he had obtained a series of deferments, he did not have to serve in the war.

The first deferment was 2-A due to his teaching job, the second was 3-A because of parenthood, and his final was labeled a 4-A and given in 1944.

Death

Vince Lombardi had been suffering from digestive tract problems but refused his doctor’s request to undergo a proctoscopy exam.

He was admitted to Georgetown University Hospital on June 24, 1970. On a test, it was revealed that he had fast-growing cancer in his rectal area.

It was later revealed that the cancer was terminal.

The Grave of Late Vincent Lombardi And His Wife
The Grave of Late Vincent Lombardi And His Wife (Source: Sports Illustrated)

After a few months of battle with cancer, he took his last breath at the age of 57 in Washington D.C. at 7:12 AM on September 3, 1970. All his family members were present at the time of his death.

The funeral was held four days later, on 7th September, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

He was entombed in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Middletown Township, New Jersey.

Career

Lombardi began his coaching job in 1939 at a Catholic high school in Englewood, New Jersey, called St. Cecilia’s.

Since he was already married at the time, he needed more money to provide for his family so he also taught chemistry, Latin, and physics in addition to coaching for an annual salary of under $1,000.

Vince-Lombardi
Vince Lombardi Celebrating (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

After Andy Palau, the former head coach left St. Cecilia’s or another job at Fordham, Vince was promoted to the head coach position.

He spent eight years at St. Cecilia’s and, in 1947, became the coach of freshman teams in football at Fordham University, his alma mater.

After the 1948 season, he joined U.S. Military Academy as an offensive line coach under the head coach Earl “Colonel Red” Blaik.

This not only added a portfolio to his resume but also greatly influenced his future philosophy and system of coaching.

He stayed with the Army for five seasons and then went to New York Giants as an assistant coach.

Lombardi was 41 at the time when he made his NFL debut with the Giants.

After the Giants, Lombardi accepted the position of the head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers in 1959.

With the Packers, he won the first two Super Bowls for championships in five of seven seasons.

Wife & Children

Lombardi and Marie Planitz met in the fall of 1934.

After a few meetings, Marie fell for Lombardi and expressed her desire to marry him, which her father opposed. However, they were deeply in love and married regardless of Marie’s stockbroker father’s will on August 31, 1940.

Marie had a miscarriage during her first pregnancy and consequently started drinking heavily to escape from trauma.

Vince Lombardi Family
Vince Lombardi With His Family (Source: Packerville, USA)

In 1942, Vince and Marie gave birth to their son Vince Henry Lombardi and their daughter Susan was born in 1947.

Lombardi’s grandson is also a coach. Joe Lombardi has served in the NFL since 2006, and in 2009 he won Super Bowl XLIV as a quarterback’s coach of the Saints and won the trophy bearing his grandfather’s name.

Popularity Graph

Popularity of vince
Popularity of Vince Lombardi Over The Past 12 Months (Source: Google)

Unknown Facts About Vince Lombardi

  • Even though his wife Marie was a Republican, Vince was a lifelong Democrat with liberal views.
  • Lombardi’s father was a daily Communicant, and his mother’s favorite picture of Vince as a kid was on his Confirmation.
  • He was a member of the Riding Country club and all-white Oneida Golf in Green Bay.
  • Lombardi starred in a 30 minutes motivational film in 1968 titled Second Effort. The film has been called “The best-selling training film of all time.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Why is Vince Lombardi so famous?

Vince led the Packers to five total NFL Championships in seven years. Also, he won the first two Super Bowls at the end of the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons.

What was Vince Lombardi's famous quote?

The most famous quote of Vince Lombardi is, “ Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

How much is a real Vince Lombardi Trophy worth?

The Vince Lombardi trophy takes 72 hours to construct, and the value of the trophy is $10,000. Nevertheless, many deem the trophy priceless.

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