Experiencing Racism

Vince Lombardi

Vince Lombardi’s tolerance of racism was ZERO, believed to be due to the fact that he had experienced racism himself, throughout his life as illustrated by the following stories;

‘While in college he got in a fight when another team mate wanted Lombardi to stand next to another Italian player so they could determine who had the darker complexion. A pretty good insult to an Italian at the time’ – Vince Lombardi Jr. 1

While Trying to advance his career in coaching at one point an individual who liked Lombardi reached out to him and told him should evaluate his career choice because ‘the NFL wouldn’t hire a head coach with a last name that ended in a vowel’, meaning Italian American. -Jerry Izenberg 2

“During the Packers stay in North Carolina, Vince and Marie Lombardi went to a restaurant for dinner and encountered a situation that set in motion a string of events that ended the Green Bay-Washington preseason agreement. Dave Robinson tells how a maître d’ refused to seat the Lombardi’s, ‘I wasn’t there, but paraphrasing he said, ‘Well we don’t allow blacks in this restaurant.’ Vince said, ’I’m not black, I’m Vince Lombardi.’ The maître d’ said, ‘I don’t care who the hell you are, you’re not bringing that blond woman in this restaurant to have dinner.’” – Dave Robinson 3

The Lombardi Era (1959-1968) was going on at the same time as the Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968). Coach Lombardi worked hard to isolate the team from discrimination. Lombardi is often admired for his “colorblind” mentality. Vince Lombardi’s key to equality was through his players winning football games. During a time that witnessed extreme turmoil and horrific violence

“This was not the case in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Hatred, fear and ignorance, necessary ingredients to feed a national paralyzing fight were not tolerated at 1265 Highland Ave. For 10 years, Green Bay’s franchise operated under the Lombardi Civil Rights Act of 1959. Black players and their families were integral, respected members of the Packer community. Lombardi focused his efforts on the players knowing his players could win him games, and in doing so win the love of the city of Green Bay and the Packers fans!”  4

The integration of African American players changed the course of the Packers program. The talent that added to the team helped earn them championships. So did their courage and determination to win at a time when many people did not want to see African American players succeed. With a coach that backed these talented players, the Lombardi Era Packers become one of the most successful and significant teams in the history of football. This website will introduce personal stories and accounts from the following people: Emlen Tunnell, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Dave Robinson, and Vicky Aldridge Nelson (Lionel Aldridge’s wife).

  1.  A Football Life ‘Vince Lombardi’. (2013, December 25). Retrieved October 01, 2018, from http://www.nfl.com/videos/a-football-life/0ap2000000303836/A-Football-Life-Vince-Lombardi-builds-his-Packers-dynasty 
  2.  A Football Life ‘Vince Lombardi’. (2013, December 25). Retrieved October 01, 2018, from http://www.nfl.com/videos/a-football-life/0ap2000000303836/A-Football-Life-Vince-Lombardi-builds-his-Packers-dynasty 
  3.  Adderley, H., Robinson, D., & Boyles, R. (n.d.). Lombardi’s Left Side.
  4.  Adderley, H., Robinson, D., & Boyles, R. (n.d.). Lombardi’s Left Side.