1966
Vince Lombardi, who set the precedent for tough football coaching standards, leads the Green Bay Packers to victory in Super Bowl I. Notwithstanding his rigid standard, there is a place for Sam Rutigliano's nice-guy approach.


Vincent Thomas Lombardi (1913-1970), one of the most successful professional football coaches, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1913, the son of an immigrant father. He attended Fordham University when the college played a big time schedule and where he played football becoming a part of its fabled "Seven Blocks of Granite" line. After graduation he worked in the insurance field, studied law at night school and also played minor league football for the Brooklyn Eagles. From 1939 to 1947 Lombardi taught several subjects and coached football at St. Cecelia's High School in Englewood, New Jersey. This was followed by a stint as freshman football coach at Fordham University and assistant football coach at West Point, working under legendary coach Earl "Red" Blaik. In 1954 Vincent Lombardi entered professional football becoming offensive coach for the New York Giants and helped them attain the National Football League Championship in 1956. This background led the moribund Green Bay Packers to hire him as head coach in 1959. Utilizing an unusually rigid training regimen, he was prepared to turn around the fortunes of a team inured to defeat -in 1957 the Packers had a 1 victory, 10 defeats, and 1 tie record --accomplishing it almost immediately with a winning season in 1958. For this achievement he was voted Coach of the Year. Lombardi's career flourished as he proceeded to lead the Packers to five National Football League Championships (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967) including winning the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967. In 1969 he became head coach and general manager of the Washington Redskins, and once again helped reverse the sinking fortunes a seemingly inept professional football team as he led them to their first winning season in 14 years. Deeply religious, Lombardi made efforts to worship at Mass daily. At the time of his death in 1970, Vince Lombardi had become the symbol of single-minded determination to win.

Lest the impression be given that Lombardi's vaunted hard line, granite-like reputation epitomized all Italian American coaches, it is instructive to note that others succeeded with totally different coaching styles. Sam Rutigliano is a case in point. Born in 1931 in Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay -the same neighborhood in which Lombardi grew up-Sam, the son of an immigrant truck driver from Bari, became a star football player in high school and at the University of Tulsa. After a number of years coaching high school and as assistant coach for various professional teams, in 1977 he became head football coach for the Cleveland Browns. Open with his feelings and treating his players as individuals, he succeeded in creating a healthy atmosphere that also helped to improve the team's win-loss record. In 1980, he was named American Football Conference Coach of the Year as he led the team to an 11 and 5 record.





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