Named "Coach of the Century" by ESPN, Vince Lombardi is remembered for his dedication, his infectious enthusiasm and his unforgettable quotes that continue to echo in locker rooms around the world.
Vincent Thomas Lombardi was born on June 11, 1913, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was the first of Henry and Matilda Lombardi's five children. Vince was raised in the Catholic faith and studied the priesthood for two years before transferring to St. Francis Preparatory High School, where he became a star fullback on the football team.
Vince was accepted at New York City's Fordham University in 1933. After a year on the freshman team, varsity football coach "Sleepy" Jim Crowley (a Knute Rockne protégé) made 170-pound Vince a guard in Fordham's steadfast offensive line, which was tagged the "Seven Blocks of Granite." He was also just as successful in the classroom as in the football field, graduating cum laude with a business major in 1937.
For the next two years, Vince worked at a finance company, took night classes at Fordham's law school and played semi-pro football with Delaware's Wilmington Clippers. In 1939 he took a teaching and coaching job at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, N.J. For $1,700 a year, Vince taught Latin, algebra, physics and chemistry, and coached the football, basketball and baseball teams.
Lombardi married Marie Planitz in 1940, with whom he had a son, Vince Jr., and a daughter, Susan.
Vince left St. Cecilia in 1947 to coach at his Alma Mater, Fordham. He spent one year coaching Fordham's freshman football team and the next as an assistant coach for the varsity team.
Earl "Colonel Red" Blaik, then football coach for the United States Military Academy at West Point and considered the best coach in the country at the time, hired Vince to manage the team's varsity defensive line in 1949. Vince regularly worked 17-hour days with Blaik, whose expertise helped refine Vince's leadership skills. Blaik taught Vince to stick with clear-cut plays (simple blocking and tackling), strive for perfect execution and conduct himself respectfully on the field.