GREEN BAY, Wis. — As the Green Bay Packers practiced Tuesday, the team was reminded of perhaps the most iconic member in the franchise’s storied history. It was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vince Lombardi.
The Hall of Fame coach, who had a 98-30-4 record during his time with the Packers and led the team to three NFL championships and two Super Bowls, passed away in 1970 at the age of 57, but he’s still remembered well around Lambeau Field.
“Everybody’s inspired by Coach Lombardi,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s important to always recognize that, particularly here in Green Bay. I think he’s not only impressed upon us a sense of direction, but also the coaching profession and really society.
“It’s amazing how many times his name comes up in every type of conversation, whether you’re sitting at the table with a bunch of businessmen, on a golf course playing in a charity tournament, and how many things point back to Coach Lombardi’s time here. You talk about a major contribution not only to the Green Bay Packers, to professional football, but what we stand for as a society today.”
The Packers have a statue of Lombardi outside of Lambeau Field and a recreation of his office in the team’s Hall of Fame exhibit. The NFL certainly recognized Lombardi’s impact as well, renaming the championship trophy the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 1970.
“You see his face all over this place,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “This is a special place to play because we’ve had so many names that are synonymous with the beginning of football and the emergence of football and the greatness of this franchise, obviously Curly Lambeau and Vince were both on the top 20 all-time coaches by ESPN. Vince was No. 1, no surprise, but I think his legacy, the way they did things early on in this franchise has carried on and that’s why this is the premier franchise in the league.”
Though it’s been nearly half a century since Lombardi last stood on the sideline in Green Bay, current players like Rodgers are very aware of the type of coach he was.
“You hear the stories about (quarterback) Bart (Starr) coming over and telling him this is the play that I think would work, and his response was, ‘Get the ball in the end zone and make it work,'” Rodgers said. “You appreciate that as a quarterback, the trust that he had. He had a way of doing things. It was running the football and kind of revolutionizing the part of the sweep game and it worked for a long time.
“I think when you’re a great coach, it doesn’t matter what era you coach in, you’re going to get the most out of your players and have success.”