Vincent Thomas Lombardi was born on June 11th, 1913. Both of Lombardi’s grandparents were immigrants of Italy. Vince and his siblings were often victims to ethnic discrimination that existed against Italian immigrants during that time. Growing up in a Catholic household, church was a must on Sunday’s. At the age of 15, he went to Cathedral Preparatory Seminary to train to be a priest. After finishing four of the six year program, he decided that wasn’t what he wanted to do. Although he turned his focus to sports, his Catholic belief was something he never turned from. Vince was a 4th degree in the Knights Of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal group.
He took over as head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1959. On his way to work each day, Lombardi would stop at church to pray, in case he unexpectedly died that day. He also led the entire team to church every morning before a home game. He worked every day at living a Godly lifestyle, and it showed in the way he ran his team.
Between the ethnic prejudice he faced as an Italian-American and his religious upbringing, Lombardi had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to racism on the team. He didn’t see his players as black nor white. He saw them as “Packer green”. His views though, were uncommon during that time. When Vince Lombardi joined the Packers, he made it clear that racism would not be tolerated. Any player who showed any racist or prejudice behavior, would be thrown off the team.
Defensive end Nate Bordon was the only African-American on the Packers roster when Lombardi joined in 1959. Before the start of the 1960 season, Lombardi implemented a policy that would require any hotels they stayed at, to host the entire team. Black and white. He refused to go to any restaurants or businesses that did not accommodate and treat all players equally. Lombardi also refused to assign hotel rooms based off the color of the players’ skin. Green Bay was the only NFL team that had that policy. By 1967, Green Bay had 13 African players on their roster.
Vincent Thomas Lombardi has a legacy on the field that will last forever. Heck, the Super Bowl trophy is named after him. But Vince Lombardi was so much more then that. He was a man that not only believed in equality, but also fought for it. Black lives mattered to him, and he showed it with the way he ran his team, and his life.