Merry Christmas, Packers fans! Today is Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25th, 2021 and I hope you enjoy the day. For many fans of the Packers, a part of this years Christmas is a bit different than usual because Green Bay is playing a football game! Yes, Lambeau Field and the Packers (11-3) host the Cleveland Browns (7-7) at 3:30pm CST in an interconference showdown. While a pivotal game looms for both teams, there’s an important Christmas story to tell.
A little under 60 years ago, back in the 1960’s, the Packers had a very famous head coach named Vince Lombardi. Coach Lombardi won 5 NFL championships, including 2 Super Bowls, over a 9 year span during his time in Green Bay from 1959 to 1967. As a result of his success, the NFL named the championship trophy after him – the Lombardi Trophy. With that said, his success was far from an easy path.
When Lombardi initially became lead man in charge, he overtook a Packers team that had gone 1-10-1 the season before and a franchise without a winning season in 12 years. It was coach Vince’s first ever job in the NFL as a head coach, as he had come to Green Bay from the New York Giants as an assistant. The Packers at the time were a lost cause with a disgusted fan base.
In Lombardi’s first season with the Packers in 1959, his team secured a winning record and went 7-5. In his 2nd season, the Packers went 8-4 and made it to the NFL Championship Game, where they lost to the Eagles 17-13. In years 3 and 4, Lombardi’s teams achieved the pinnacle and won back to back NFL championships, earning Green Bay the nickname “Titletown” and cementing Lombardi as a league icon, forever.
During his time with the Packers, Lombardi operated around the trinity of God, Family and the Green Bay Packers, the order of the 3 never being clear. Coach Lombardi, who at 15 years old had visions of becoming “Father Lombardi” and enrolling in a school for priesthood, was a very religious man all his life. A devout Christian, Vince went to church 365 days per year, even as coach of the Packers.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence” is one of many famous quotes from the Hall of Fame Coach. It applied to the Green Bay Packers football teams which Lombardi coached as much as it applied to his personal life. For all of his accomplishments between the white lines and the time spent at church, Lombardi understood his own flaws, no matter how hard he chased perfection.
While we celebrate this years Christmas, be it with God, the people we love or the Packers, today should be cherished. Coach Lombardi’s story and beliefs puts Christmas in a healthy perspective and I’m sure he’s smiling down on Lambeau Field today.
After the Packers back to back NFL Titles in 1961 and 1962, they missed the playoffs the following two seasons. It wasn’t until 1965 when Lombardi’s Packers got back to the big game, which was played on January 2nd, 1966 at Lambeau Field. The opponent? The Cleveland Browns, where the Packers secured a 23-12 victory that ignited a run of 3 consecutive NFL championships, including 2 Super Bowl wins, from 1965-1967.
As we collectively enjoy the Browns vs Packers game today as well as the remainder of the season, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas!——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.