Greatest NFL coaches: Vince Lombardi is #1, but who is 2 and 3?


Tuesday is the 100th anniversary of Vince Lombardi’s birthday.

Life Magazine photograph

Vince Lombardi’s legacy as one of, if not the greatest NFL coach continues well into the 21st century.

For the past 50 years his greatness is indisputable. But is he really number one among all NFL coaches?

Well, we’ll know by Tuesday, June 11, as ESPN continues its “Greatest Coaches in NFL History” countdown with the top three coaches being announced over the next three days. The countdown culminates on the 100th anniversary of Vince Lombardi’s birthday June 11 with the big announcement of the number one coach.

It should be Lombardi – after all, his name adorns the front of the NFL’s Super Bowl Trophy and he is the winningest coach in all of the league’s history. His record, 105-35-6 (74 percent), is nothing short of astonishing, but what’s even more remarkable is the fact that during the course of his time with the Packers he won five of the franchise’s 13 titles.

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Don Shula has more wins than any coach in all of NFL football.

There have been other coaches who have won many more games than Lombardi – George Hallas with a record of 324-151-31 and Don Shula, 347-173-6 – but what separates Lombardi’s record from the other coaches who have worked in the league was his ability to motivate men and to utilize training techniques that had never been attempted before.

So with Lombardi entrenched as the number one coach, who will be numbers two and three?

Here’s my guess: Don Shula will be number two and Bill Walsh will be number three. Shula gets the nod over Walsh because of his ability to coach so long in the league, but Walsh earns third place not only because of the number of titles he won but because of his influence across the league. His West Coast offense continues to be one of the longest standing offensive systems and is likely to continue to influence coaches for years to come.

With Shula and Walsh slotted for two of the top three spots, there are plenty of coaches who have had enormous success but won’t find a place on this list.

Consider these names: Mike Holmgren, George Allen and Bill Cowher. And what about guys like Andy Reid, Marty Schottenheimer, and Blanton Collier?

George Allen was successful for both the L.A. Rams and the Washington Redskins.

These are all coaches with large win records and remarkable histories in the league, but won’t be recognized – at least on this list.

Tell me what you think … Below is the complete list as presented by ESPN. Are there coaches who don’t belong or are listed too high or too low?