Why the NFL's Championship Prize Is Called the Vince Lombardi Trophy

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Why the NFL's Championship Prize Is Called the Vince Lombardi Trophy

NFL teams are currently going through the organized team activities, trying to blend together the newly acquired talent (2012 NFL draft and free agency) along with the remaining veterans on the various squads. This will lead to training camp, which will take place in about two months.

All teams, including the Green Bay Packers, have one ultimate goal heading into the 2012 NFL season. That is winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy. That trophy signifies the very best team in the NFL, as it is awarded to the Super Bowl champion every year.

The first Super Bowl took place on January 15, 1967, when the Green Bay Packers of the NFL, coached by Vince Lombardi, took on the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL. The Packers won 35-10 in that first Super Bowl, then won again the next year as well, beating the Oakland Raiders 33-14 in Super Bowl II. Lombardi retired as head coach of the Packers shortly after the second Super Bowl game.

Initially the Super Bowl trophy was just called the World Professional Football Championship Trophy. It remained that way until 1970, when it was renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy, in honor of the coach who died suddenly from cancer in September of 1970.

The first Vince Lombardi Trophy was presented after Super Bowl V, when the Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-13.

So why is the trophy given to the Super Bowl winner called the Vince Lombardi Trophy? Again, Lombardi and his Packers won the first two Super Bowls. In those wins, the Packers outscored their two opponents by a 68-24 margin. But it is much more than that.

Lombardi always played to win—no matter if it was the preseason, regular season or postseason. Lombardi had a .728 winning percentage in the regular season during his time as a head coach in the NFL, which includes the 1969 season with the Washington Redskins (that season was Washington's first winning season in 13 years, by the way).

In the preseason during his career, Lombardi had an even better .840 winning percentage by winning 42 out of 50 games.

But it was the postseason where Lombardi really stood out. Lombardi was 9-1, or a .900 winning percentage, plus five NFL titles, including the first two Super Bowls.

The one game he lost—a 17-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1960 NFL title game—ended with FB Jim Taylor being tackled on the Eagles' 10-yard line by Chuck Bednarik as time ran out.

Lombardi won 96 regular season games as a head coach over a 10-year period. Four coaches have won more than 200 games in NFL history, with Don Shula leading the way with 328 wins, followed by George Halas with 318 wins, followed by Tom Landry with 250 wins and also Curly Lambeau, the Packers' first head coach and founder, with 226 wins.

Al Bello/Getty Images

Shula, Halas, Landry and Lambeau all coached for more than two decades apiece.

None of those coaches had a regular season winning percentage over .700 like Lombardi did. All had issues in the postseason as well. Shula was 19-17 in the postseason, including a record of 2-4 in the Super Bowl. Landry was 20-16 in the postseason, with a 2-3 record in the Super Bowl.

Halas was 6-3 in the postseason, but he did win eight NFL championships, as two of his championships came before the playoff format started in 1933. Lambeau was 3-2 in the postseason and won six NFL titles, as he too won three titles before the playoff format started.

Vince Lombardi is the benchmark for all that the NFL stands for in coaching. Lombardi had many quotes during his time as a coach, but the one that stands out the most to me concerning victories is this short but sweet one, "Winning is a habit."

Indeed, winning was a habit for Vincent Thomas Lombardi, the man whose name is on the trophy that is given to the winner of each Super Bowl game.

Very apropos indeed.

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