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Saccomano: Lombardi Trophy Very Well Named

Posted Jun 30, 2014

Jim Saccomano reminds readers why Packers legend Vince Lombardi has his name on the NFL's most sought-after prize.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Just about every National Football League player, coach and personnel member is taking a bit of time off at this time of the year, getting ready for the start of NFL training camps in mid-to-late July.

And when that day comes, every team will once again begin pursuit of the ultimate goal, the Lombardi Trophy that goes to the Super Bowl champion.

As many of you know, I have a fondness for doing my web site columns with somewhat of a historical bent -- I like taking a look back and maybe pointing out something the readers might have overlooked.

We have a lot of young people in the NFL, and among our web site public as well, and while everyone knows the championship trophy is named for Vince Lombardi, many actually do not realize how large a shadow he cast over pro football history.

So beyond Lombardi’s five NFL championships won with the Green Bay Packers, here are some facts that might be otherwise lost in the shuffle.

We are currently in one of the highest scoring periods in NFL offensive history, with average points scored above 21 per game for nearly the last 10 seasons.  The American Football League was very high scoring for its entire 1960-69 history, and the NFL responded in kind—competition creates response to competition—from 1960-67 as well.

But of all head coaches with a minimum of 80 games, Vince Lombardi ranks seventh with a 24.9 points per game average over 136 pro games.

You might say that he is not in the top five, but hang on.

Of all the head coaches since World War II, again with a minimum of 80 games coached, Lombardi is second in total defense with a 16.1 points allowed figure in those same 136 games.  That is second only to defensive legend George Allen, who also had a 16.1 average, but in 168 games (so you could say Lombardi is number one in defense, but Allen should get the nod due to more games).

And  in looking at the head coach with the greatest margin of victory, Lombardi is number one there, with an 8.8 average margin of victory, including all games, wins and losses, over his 136 as a pro head coach in both Green Bay and Washington.

Finally, as he did coach in two cities, if you take more than one team into consideration, and look at all coaches who had at least two teams, Vince Lombardi is fourth in pro football history.

No coach is as high in each of those departments, and it is not even close.

The Lombardi Trophy is aptly named.

Back when I was at Mount Carmel High School, Sister Mary Anthony told me there are two kinds of smart people: those who know the answers and those who know where to look for the answers.

In the case of this column, I am the second. I knew where to look. 

All research credit for the stats in this piece goes to John Maxymuk, author of several books on pro football, including “NFL Head Coaches:  A Biographical Dictionary, 1920-2011.”  All of his work is excellent and some readers might want to take a more in depth look as his figures in his outstanding book on pro football coaches.

John wrote a great research article, containing these statistics and many, many more, in “The Coffin Corner:  The Official Magazine of the Professional Football Researchers Association.”  Great piece, John.  The few stats I quoted do little justice to his overall research, which is a worthy read for any fan.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and the championship trophy, while most aptly named, is the goal we all will strive for regardless of its moniker.

So a little time off for all, and then pursuit of pro football’s holy grail begins in earnest once again.