Vince Lombardi was born on June 11, 1913 in Brooklyn, New York.
While watching Super Bowl 55 on February 7, 2021, I began a look back at the Super Bowl, I quickly discovered the names of 200 Italians, and Americans of Italian descent, who all had a big impact on American Football. Yes, there were a few Italians from Italy who played American football. In fact, there is even an Italian Football League the IF that started in 2008.
Our own Italian American football players like Stamford native and Arnold College alumni, Andy Robustelli, who played for the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants. Andy participated in and won two NFL championships in the 1950’S. These NFL Championship games were a predecessor of the Super Bowl Championship game we love today.
50 plus years ago, Vince Lombardi and his two Green Bay Packer NFL Championship teams won the inaugural Super bowl and the 2nd Super Bowl in the 1960’s. Vince Lombardi set the stage for this cultural February holiday by winning those first 2 Super Bowl Championships. For sure, Vince Lombardi, an American of Italian descent, set sail on his first of two Christopher Columbus esque adventures that still have this country celebrating every February.
Nick Buoniconti won 2 Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins in the 1970’s. Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers and Mark Bavaro of the New York Giants both won Super Bowls in the 1980’s and 90’s respectively. More recently Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens, also an Italian American, won a Super Bowl in 2012 While space does not allow me to recognize more Italian American’s here, I feel compelled to say a bit more about Vince Lombardi. Vince was an extraordinary man who knew how to motivate his team. In my opinion the only current coach I could compare him to is Bill Belichick. Don’t laugh, Belichick gets a lot out of his team. While he is not the out spoken, boisterous, or as often quoted as Lombardi was, he certainly has a record to match. Vince’s motivating style included some great quotes including: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” and “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor” Vince was not only an exceptional motivator, but he was also a human being with feeling. I read a story about him and his non-acceptance of any form of prejudice. He would refuse to let any of his players go to a restaurant or motel if that business refused to serve black players. In a time when prejudice towards Blacks was still very much in play Vince spoke out against both color discrimination and sexual preference bias. He declared his feelings openly to NFL administrators, and he was taken seriously. His players loved him, and they greatly respected his work ethic. When it comes to Super Bowls, and life lessons, Vince Lombardi is an Italian American who discovered a lot more than a Super Bowl holiday.