One typically associates the late Vince Lombardi and the Super Bowl trophy that bears his name with Green Bay, Wisc., where he led the Packers to five NFL championships and became known as perhaps the greatest football coach in the history of the game. But both the legendary coach and the prize named after him have roots in the New York/New Jersey area, where the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will compete for the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.
Lombardi was born and raised in Brooklyn in the 1910s and played football in the Bronx at Fordham University. His first coaching gig was as an assistant at a high school in Englewood, N.J., and he later returned to Fordham as an assistant. In 1949, Lombardi accepted an assistant job with West Point, some 50 miles north of New York City along the Hudson River, and in 1954, at the age of 41, he joined the staff of the New York Giants.
After five years with the G-Men, Lombardi took over as the head coach in Green Bay, where he went on to compile a 98-30-4 record and win five championships over nine seasons. The last of his two NFL championship wins were Super Bowls I and II.
At that time, the league trophy looked similar to its modern-day version but was engraved with the phrase "World Professional Football Championship." The first model originally awarded to Lombardi and his Packers was handcrafted in Newark, N.J., nine miles south of East Rutherford, the site of Super Bowl XLVIII. All subsequent versions of the trophy, which was named after Lombardi after his death in 1970, have been produced in New Jersey.
On Sunday, the victor will lift a Lombardi Trophy made in Piscataway, just a 45-minute drive down I-95 from where its namesake began his coaching career.