DEAD: Vince Lombardi

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Vince Lombardi (aged 57)
American football player, coach and executive

Vincent Thomas Lombardi (June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970) was an American footballplayer, coach, and executive in the National Football League (NFL). He is best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he led the team to three straight and five total NFL Championships in seven years, in addition to winning the first two Super Bowls at the conclusion of the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons. Following his sudden death from cancer in 1970, The NFL Super Bowltrophy was named in his honor. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, the year after his death. Lombardi is considered by many to be the greatest coach in football history, and he is more significantly recognized as one of the greatest coaches and leaders in the history of any American sport.

Lombardi began his coaching career as an assistant and later as a head coach at St. Cecilia High Schoolin Englewood, New Jersey. He was an assistant coach at Fordham, at the United States Military Academy, and with the New York Giants before becoming a head coach for the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967 and the Washington Redskins in 1969. He never had a losing season as a head coach in the NFL, compiling a regular season winning percentage of 72.8% (96–34–6), and 90% (9–1) in the postseason for an overall record of 105 wins, 35 losses, and 6 ties in the NFL.

DEATH: Lombardi had suffered from digestive tract problems as early as 1967, and he had refused his doctor’s request to undergo a proctoscopic exam. On June 24, 1970, Lombardi was admitted to Georgetown University Hospital, and tests “revealed anaplastic carcinoma in the rectal area of his colon, a fast-growing malignant cancer in which the cells barely resemble their normal appearance.” On July 27, Lombardi was readmitted to Georgetown and exploratory surgery found that the cancer was terminal. Lombardi and Marie received family, friends, clergy, players, and former players at his hospital bedside. He received a phone call from President Nixon telling Lombardi that all of America was behind him, to which Lombardi replied that he would never give up his fight against his illness. On his deathbed, Lombardi told Father Tim that he was not afraid to die, but that he regretted he could not have accomplished more in his life. Lombardi died in Washington, D.C. at 7:12 a.m. on Thursday, September 3, 1970, surrounded by his wife, parents, two children, and six grandchildren. He was 57.

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