Although most fans know that the trophy awarded to the winning team of the Super Bowl – or the National Championship Game – is called the Vince Lombardi Trophy, they often don’t know the full history behind it. Throughout the history of the NFL, there have been a number of teams that have tried to capture this title, but few like the 2014 Seattle Seahawks have found success.
That’s because the Vince Lombardi trophy is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in the NFL, which means this award isn’t just a participation trophy players get for making it to the big game; it’s something they have to earn through dedication, hard work, and lots of training.
But before the award became known as the Vince Lombardi trophy, it was simply called the “World Championship Game Trophy,” and the game between the rival conferences was known as the AFL-NFL Championship game before adapting to the Super Bowl title. Not as exciting as its current name, right?
So when did the switch happen?
It occurred in 1970, when the league decided to change the name of the award from “World Championship Game Trophy” to the “Vince Lombardi Trophy” after his passing.
What many fans don’t know, however, is who Vince Lombardi is, and why he’s so important to the NFL. For starters, Vince Lombardi was a legendary head coach for the Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins. He was born in 1913 and became the most successful head coach to ever coach the game of football. Lombardi was the leader of his team, and during his time coaching in Green Bay, he managed to capture five national championship titles within a nine-year span. In the preseason, Lombardi had a .840 winning percentage by winning 42 of his 50 games. But it was the postseason where he became known as a legend, with a winning percentage of .900 with a record of 9-1. The one loss being to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960.
Why is Vince Lombardi still a relevant legend throughout the NFL?
Other than having his name on the Super Bowl trophy awarded each year to the winning team, Lombardi set the standard of what it meant to be a great head coach in the NFL. In other words, coaching wasn’t about just about winning, it was about building a team and teaching them how to play the sport of football. In fact, one of his many great lessons was teaching his players about the sweep – a play designed to have runners go towards the strong side of the field and keep the defensive players off balance.
Ultimately, winning is what brought fame to Lombardi, but perhaps the greatest thing Vince taught the NFL involved the three themes he used to set his standards as a coach. Themes that included:
- Speaking during a time of war, conventionalism, and materialism – the sixties – could have easily brought unwanted attention to Lombardi and his team. That’s why he believed that in order to be a good role model and lead his players both on and off the field, they needed discipline, especially during a crucial time period like the sixties.
- After going to West Point and being mentored by General Douglas MacArthur, Lombardi understood that leaders were born, not made. He believed leaders were justified through their hard work, and the same can be said about football players.
- Characterization and Determination. A leader is made by their character and willpower, meaning that the two go together hand-in-hand in a virtuous cycle.
So whether you’re a Seattle Seahawks fan or a fan of another organization, you’re all connected in one way or another through Vince Lombardi – the greatest coach in NFL history. If questions arise whether or not he’s still relevant in our world today, the answer is: without a doubt. His character, along with his determined spirit, was key in his ability to teach and coach in the NFL.