“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” is probably late Vince Lombardi’s most famous maxim.
THE VINCE LOMBARDI LEGACY
Vince Lombardi has become virtually synonymous with the NFL. This began during his career: he was featured as the face of the NFL on the cover of Time on December 22, 1962 as part of the magazine’s cover story on “The Sport of the ’60s.”
Lombardi’s players were wholeheartedly devoted to him, and his emphasis on hard work and dedication endeared him to millions who admired his values.
In addition to Lombardi’s contributions to the history of professional football, Lombardi is legendary for his coaching philosophy and motivational skills. Many of Lombardi’s speeches continue to be quoted frequently today, and he is well known as being unequivocally committed to winning.
“Lombardi time” is the principle that one should arrive 10-15 minutes early, or else be considered late. His chief scout, Wally Cruice, once said of Lombardi’s single-minded devotion to the game: “you didn’t talk about anything but football. If you didn’t have the facts, he didn’t want you to waste his time.”
Lombardi is also credited with introducing the concept of zone blocking to the NFL. In zone blocking the offensive line players block as a unit, instead of individually man-to-man, as was the norm up to that time. The running back then was expected to run toward any hole that was created. Lombardi referred to this as “running to daylight.”
VINCE LOMBARDI’S HONORS
- In 1967, Highland Avenue in Green Bay, home to the Packers’ Lambeau Field, was renamed for Lombardi.
- As part of the Lambeau Field renovation, a statue of Lombardi now stands on a plaza outside the stadium, in an overcoat grasping a program, as he did often on the sideline.
- In 1972, the Green Bay School District named its new junior high school (later a middle school) “Vincent T. Lombardi Junior High (Middle) School.” It is located on Green Bay’s southwest side.
- There is a Vince Lombardi Square (with a plaque dedication in the sidewalk on the square) near Sheepshead Bay Road and East 14th Street in Brooklyn, New York.
- Also in Brooklyn, there are two places in the Bensonhurst area, which are dedicated or rehonored in Vince Lombardi’s honor: P.S. 204 on 15th Avenue and 81st Street is unofficially named the Vince Lombardi Public School, and the entire Bensonhurst stretch of 16th Avenue is dedicated by the City of New York as “Vince Lombardi Boulevard.”
- The Vince Lombardi Service Area and park-and-ride is the northernmost rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike at mileposts 116E on the Eastern Spur and 115.5W on the Western Spur.
- The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University is named in his honor.
- The Vince Lombardi Cancer clinic at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay is named after him.
- The Vincent T. Lombardi Center at Fordham University was named for the coach.
- The Rotary Lombardi Award is given annually to the best college football lineman or linebacker.
- The football field at Old Bridge High School in Old Bridge, New Jersey is called “Vince Lombardi Field.” It has been called this since the 1970s, the field in Palisades Park is also known as “Vince Lombardi Field.” His brother Joe attended the rededication ceremony in the 1990s.
- Lombardi is a recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest adult award given by the Boy Scouts of America.
- Immediately renamed following his death in September 1970, the Vince Lombardi Trophy is given to the winner of the Super Bowl annually by the NFL.