Today is the 40th anniversary of the passing of one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. On September 3rd, 1970, Vince Lombardi passed away of cancer. With a career record of 96-34-6 and a subsequent winning percentage of 73.8%, Lombardi posts the 2nd highest winning percentage of any coach in NFL history (only behind the great John Madden at 75%).
Lombardi started his coaching career at West Point as an Assistant Coach and the Offensive Line coach. It was at West Point where Coach Lombardi crafted his strict, no non-sense coaching style. After 5 seasons at West Point, he would accept an Assistant Head Coaching and Offensive Coordinator position with the New York Giants. After 4 years with the Giants, Coach Lombardi accepted his first Head Coaching job with the Green Bay Packers. His arrival would have an immediate impact.
In 1958, the Packers were a 1-10-1 team. In 1959, with the addition of Coach Lombardi, the Packers would end the season 7-5 and Lombardi would be the NFL Coach of the Year. By his second season, Lombardi coached the Packers to the NFL Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles, but would lose on a game saving tackle by linebacker Chuck Bednarik as time expired. The 1960 Championship loss would be Coach Lombardi’s first and final postseason defeat (9-1 for his career). Coach Lombardi would go on to win 5 NFL Championships (’61, ’62, ’65, ’66 and ’67), as well as Super Bowls I and II in 1967 and 1968.
Following his 2nd consecutive Super Bowl Championship, Coach Lombardi stepped down as Head Coach and accepted a position in the front office as General Manager. However, after watching his old team finish 6-7-1 the following year, Coach Lombardi stepped down as General Manager of the Packers and accepted a Head Coaching position with the Washington Redskins. Similar to the turn around he had with the Packers, Lombardi turned a team which hadn’t had a winning record in 14 consecutive seasons into a 7-5-2 team in 1969. In June of 1970, Coach Lombardi was diagnosed with colon cancer and would pass away shortly there after. Rest in peace Coach.