It was 1939 that Vince asked Marie’s father for her hand in marriage.
They had met almost 5 years earlier when Vince was in college at Fordham University in the Bronx. After graduating in 1937, during the Depression, he struggled to find employment. His dad, an Italian immigrant, worked as a butcher, and supported his son as he tried to find his way, eventually encouraging him to enroll in law school in the fall of 1938.
“You need a steady job to support a family,” Marie’s dad told him, “so, no.”
Vince had suspicions that Marie’s father, a stockbroker, didn’t exactly approve of his daughter marrying the son of an immigrant butcher. It wouldn’t be the last time his heritage would seem to close doors for him.
He found a job shortly after that. It was as an assistant football coach at a high school in New Jersey, and also teaching Latin, chemistry and physics… but it paid a yearly salary of almost $1000.
In 1940, Marie married Vince, anyway.
He kept that job for 8 years: that’s when he got a job as an assistant coach at his alma mater. He also helped coach the basketball team.
After 2 years at Fordham, he got a call to work in another assistant coaching role, but this time, it was at West Point. For the next 5 years, Vince learned about military discipline as he managed the offensive line of the Long Gray Line.
But it was during this time that old feelings of doors being closed to him because of his background crept back up. He would apply to other universities for coaching jobs, but would rarely even get the courtesy of a reply that his application had been received. Over the years, despite academic problems at the Academy, he began to shape the team into a force that would close the season with a record of 7 wins, a loss, and one tie.
He was 41 when the NFL called him. The New York Giants needed an offensive coordinator. The year was 1954. It was in New York that Vince began to work with a defensive coordinator named Tom Landry. Together, they took the Giants to championships. However, Vince was looking to continue his career climb, even if it meant returning to college coaching.
Doors remained closed.
It was after a terrible season in 1958 that another team finally called him about a head coaching job. With a record of 1-10-1, with players and fans crushed, frustrated, and desperately needing new leadership in the town of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Vince Lombardi took over as the head coach and GM of the Green Bay Packers. That year he led them to a 7-5 season.
In 1959 he was named Coach of the Year.
In 1960, in the championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Lombardi’s Packers were stopped just yards from victory. After that game, he told his team:
“This will never happen again. You will never lose another championship.”
In fact, he began to take it personally if players didn’t score if the opportunity was within reach.
What he accomplished in Green Bay was so extraordinary that John F. Kennedy called him from the Oval Office asking him to return to West Point to coach Army again.
He turned the President down.
He would eventually retire from Green Bay as head coach in 1968. However, he would return to coaching, this time for the Washington Redskins– in 1969.
He was only there a year, before… in 1970, he was diagnosed with cancer.
President Nixon even called his hospital room to tell him all of America was behind him.
He told Nixon that he would never give up his fight.
On September 3, 1970, the fight ended.
Following his death, he was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the NFL Super Bowl trophy has borne his name since that time.
It took him 30 years to accomplish what he did.
Where you are now is not where you will end up, just like where you are now is not where you began.
Keep working… not just at your job, but also on yourself.
Learn something new today. Grow.
Find ways to help those around you and create value in their lives.