Raymond T. Rivard photograph
1. The hiring of Vince Lombardi
If there’s a significant moment in the history of the Green Bay Packers, it occurred near the end of January 1959 when the franchise’s board voted to hire Vincent Lombardi to take over the reins as head coach and general manager.
Putting the franchise’s future into the hands of Lombardi, in hindsight, was beyond brilliant, it was a phenomenal move that would not only bring winning to northeast Wisconsin, but would be a move that would help change the entire landscape of the National Football League.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story published Jan. 29, 1959, written by , the 45-year-old Lombardi had spent the previous five years as the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants – on the same staff as , who ran the defense on that team before heading to Dallas as the Cowboys’ head coach.
Fans mingle around the statue of Vince Lombardi. Raymond T. Rivard
Lombardi brought not only a new philosophy to Green Bay, but a new culture – a culture of winning. We all know what Lombardi brought to Green Bay – but it wasn’t just winning and championships.
Lombardi’s strong will, determination and personality helped place Green Bay into elite status among the teams of the NFL.
In his eight years of coaching the Packers, Lombardi finished with a 98-30-4 record before announcing his retirement from coaching after Super Bowl II.
During that time, his teams won five NFL Championships and the first two Super Bowls. Those championships included three straight in the mid-1960s.
Over the course of his career, he won more than 75 percent of his games and, more importantly, only lost one playoff game. That loss came in the 1960 Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Lombardi vowed his team would never lose in the playoffs again – and they didn’t.
He oversaw some incredible games in the playoffs – including one of the most famous – the Ice Bowl.
While winning was the only thing for Lombardi, his influence in Green Bay and across the league is felt even to this day.
They named the Super Bowl trophy after him for a reason – many reasons, really.
And his name and influence in Green Bay will live on forever.