Vince Lombardi was a champion of football and the Green Bay Packers, but above that he was a champion of equality. Racism was close to Vince Lombardi growing up Italian American during the early 20th century, Lombardi experienced it first hand both in college and during his pursuit of a head coaching position in the NFL. He was a great coach and teacher, and his players credit him with being a humanitarian and even a father figure. He fought for civil equality through his effort to draft and employ players based on their ability to play football and not by the color of their skin. He fought for social equality through his efforts to support his African American players both on and off the field by promoting them to leadership roles. And he fought for marriage equality through his support for the marriage of Lionel Aldridge’s marriage to Vicky Aldridge Nelson. The following quotes are from Vince Lombardi’s peers and former players, and proclaim in their own words his champion efforts toward the fight for equality;

“It’s lesser known about Vince Lombardi for his era he was well ahead of the national norm on racial tolerance, tolerance on gender issues, lifestyle issues, if you could play and play his way he wouldn’t care if you were green or what you did in your private life.” – Dan Rather 1

“His greatest asset was recognizing individual differences in people. In other words he didn’t treat everybody the same, he didn’t treat all the black players the same, all the white guys the same, he took time to sit down with us and talk and find out you know different things about us, and he treated us as such. He was a humanitarian, psychologists, psychiatrists, teacher, coach.” – Herb Adderley 3

“Vince treated us like that, he would treat us all like equal, and he did so many things you know. I didn’t realize it at the time, that I was going be the first black linebacker in the National Football League, but Vince did and he took it very serious, he called me aside and told me. He said we’re not going to publicize it and if anybody says anything you refer them to me, but he said he didn’t want any distractions on the team. But he knew what it meant and I at the time all I want to do is play football get a check to support my family I didn’t realize what the social implications were, Vince Lombardi always had a grasp on that.” – Dave Robinson 4

  1.  A Football Life ‘Vince Lombardi’. (2013, December 25). Retrieved October 01, 2018, from 
  2.  NFL Hall of Famer Herb Adderley talks about legendary coach Vince Lombardi! [Audio blog comment]. (2011, February). Retrieved November, 2018, from

    “You know Herb Adderley was the very first African American player draft in the first round by the Green Bay Packers and are I’m honored to say I was the second one. Now it’s commonplace now for what happened but it was just a unique experience back in 61 and 63 have a black ball player in the first round.” Dave Robinson 2 Former Packers player Dave Robinson [Interview by M. Van der Moss]. (2012, November). Retrieved November, 2018, from 

  3.  Former Packers player Dave Robinson [Interview by M. Van der Moss]. (2012, November). Retrieved November, 2018, from