Vince Lombardi was an American football coach, and executive in the National Football League (NFL). He is best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he led the team to three straight and five total NFL Championships in seven years, in addition to winning the first two Super Bowls at the conclusion of the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons.
Lombardi began his coaching career as an assistant and later as a head coach at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, New Jersey. He was an assistant coach at Fordham, at the United States Military Academy, and with the New York Giants before becoming a head coach for the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967 and the Washington Redskins in 1969.
He never had a losing season as a head coach in the NFL, compiling a regular season winning percentage of 73.8% (96–34–6), and 90% (9–1) in the postseason for an overall record of 105 wins, 35 losses, and 6 ties in the NFL.
Lombardi is considered by many to be the greatest coach in football history, and he is recognized as one of the greatest coaches and leaders in the history of all American sports.
The year after his sudden death from cancer in 1970, he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Super Bowl trophy was named in his honor.
Within weeks of his passing, Houstonian Rick Ashburn had the idea of creating an award that would honor this legendary coach and at the same time raise funds to continue the research against the disease that had taken his life. Ashburn took his idea to several groups in Houston and found a willing and eager ear with the members of the Rotary Club of Houston.
With little time to spare, the group gained the permission of Marie Lombardi, the coach’s widow, to proceed with their plan. Just over four months after Lombardi’s death, the first Rotary Lombardi Award Dinner was held at the AstroWorld Hotel. VicePresident of the United States, Spiro Agnew was the featured speaker; in addition, Howard Cosell spoke about the life of Vince Lombardi.