PACKERS NAMES VINCE LOMBARDI HEAD COACH, GENERAL MANAGER
JANUARY 28 (Green Bay) - Vince Lombardi, 45, who for
the last five years has been in charge of the New York
Giants offense, Wednesday was named general manager
and head coach of the Green Bay Packers. He has a five
year contract. Lombardi, a guard on Fordham University's
"seven blocks of granite" line in the middle 1930s, had
never before been head coach above the high school level.
"My word will be final," Lombardi said Thursday morning in
New York. "I've never been associated with a losing team
and I hope to instill a winning spirit in the Packers in a lot
less than five years." The terms of Lombardi's contract
were not revealed. When asked about the dual job of
general manager and coach, Lombardi said, "That's the
only way I'd take the job. I doubt if I would have come just
as coach. This is a better challenge, a better opportunity. I'll
have to have a very fine staff and I'm sure I will." Lombardi
will come to Green Bay next Monday and spend "two or
three days" there. Then he will return to New York to finish
his affairs there and will take over full time with the Packers
a week from Monday. Lombardi replaces Ray (Scooter)
McLean as coach. McLean resigned in December after his
first and only Packer team won one game, lost 10 and tied
one for Green Bay's worst record in 40 seasons in the NFL.
McLean went to Detroit as backfield coach of the Lions
under George Wilson. Verne Lewellen has been general
manager of the Packers, at least in name. He probably
will remain in the organization as business manager.
Lombardi said that he planned to speak to Lewellen about
it next week. That is what Lewellen's job amounted to in the
last five years. Dominic Olejniczak, president of the Packers
said, "Lombardi has the background to be a good
administrator. We know that from a couple of long
interviews with him. He was our man without a question of
a doubt." Olejniczak said that Lombardi's name was the
only one presented to the Board of Directors. Of the 45
directors, 27 were on hand. The vote was 26-1 to accept
Lombardi. This came after what Olejniczak described as a
"healthy discussion". Was it an argument? the president
was asked. "No," he said, "not at all. No one tried to tear
down the roof. It was just a healthy discussion. That's all."
Lombardi said that Jack Vainisi would remain on his staff
as personnel scout and assistant. Otherwise, he said that he had selected no one as helpers. "I have about 10 men in mind as assistants," Lombardi said. "I will not take any Giants' assistants (Tom Landry, John Dell Isola and Ken Kavanaugh). I have too much respect for this (New York) organization." Lombardi, who was born June 11, 1913, is a native of Englewood, NJ. He played at Fordham with John Druze, who resigned last fall as Marquette University football coach. Druze played end and Lombardu guard on the "Seven Blocks of Granite". Lombardi was a year ahead of Druze in school. He started his coaching career at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood. He never played pro ball. At St. Cecilia, he used the T formation and in eight years his teams won six state titles. They had a 36 game winning streak. In 1947, Lombardi went back to Fordham as freshman coach. He also was studying law, but when a call came from Earl (Red) Blaik to become assistant coach at Army, Lombardi decided football coaching, not the law, was for him. He was backfield coach at West Point until 1954, when he became Jim Lee Howell's first lieutenant with the Giants. He had complete charge of the offense. In his time, the Giants won two divisional championships - in 1956 and last fall - and one league championship, in 1956 when the Giants beat the Chicago Bears in the playoff, 47-7. Lombardi is married and the father of two children. He is the fifth head coach in the Packers' history. Curly Lambeau, the team's founder, was the first - from 1919 through 1949. Then Gene Ronzani took over until 1953; Lisle Blackbourn from 1954 through 1957, and McLean last year. The executive committee of 13 members has handled many of the duties which Lombardi will presumably take over as general manager.
THE QUEST END; LOMBARDI IS THE MAN
JANUARY 29 (Milwaukee Journal - Oliver Kuechle) - The quest for a coach and general manager at Green Bay is over and there can be only hope today that a calm in which some much needed rebuilding can be done will finally settle over the troubled and faction torn football community. The good wishes that are now flooding over Vince Lombardi as successor to Scooter McLean as coach and Verne Lewellen as general manager are fine. They must warm his heart. The new enthusiasm bursting into flame is good. Spirit and enthusiasm always were two of the chief components of Green Bay teams in their golden years under Curly Lambeau. But these things by themselves are far from enough. They were there in the beginning nine years ago, too, when Gene Ronzani succeeded Lambeau. There were there five years ago when Lisle Blackbourn succeeded Ronzani. They were there a year ago when McLean took over for Blackbourn. The heart of the situation still lies with the meddling little men who thus far have found it impossible to divorce themselves into the front row and who themselves unwittingly have contributed to a decade of failure. Won't they please step aside now and give Lombardi a fair chance on the field? Whether Lombardi is the answer to the club's troubles remains to be seen. The fervent hope, of course, is that he will be. Certain basic recommendations he brings. He was one of Fordham's brightest stars in the middle thirties - a guard. He coached high school ball at St. Cecilia's in Englewood, coached Fordham's freshmen, helped Earl Blaik for five years at the Army. In the last five years, he was assistant to Jim Lee Howell of the New York Giants, collaborating with Ken Kavanaugh in handling the offense while Tom Landry and John Dell Isola handled the defense. Aside from his high school assignment, almost 20 years ago, however, he was never a head coach. And in none of his assignments was he charged with the administrative duties he must now assume in his new position as general manager. That is not to say he cannot fulfill them. He certainly could. But he steps into no ordinary situation. The Packers have floundered around so long that only an exceptionally strong man can straighten things out - unless the meddling little men finally divorce themselves from the operation....GOOD OLD BERT: The fine hand of Bert Bell, commissioner of pro football, could have been the decisive one in the selection. Jim Trimble, coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and a former successful coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, was the first choice as head coach and general manager until Dominic Olejniczak, president of the Packers, spoke to Bell at the draft meeting last week about him. Bell, bluntly, has little use for Trimble. Bell was in the middle of the controversy which preceded Trimble's resignation at Philadelphia. Bell sided with the syndicate of Philadelphia owners when Trimble got into an argument with them over the outside jobs his players held. Trimble spoke his mind and resigned despite a fine record (29-16-3). Bell nodded his head in assent. It was not likely, then, that Olejniczak should win approval from Bell on Trimble as coach. Trimble was not acceptable...BLANK WALL: This is the significant point: Despite Olejniczak's utterances that all was proceeding well in the screening, despite speculation that Forest Evashevski was the No. 1 choice, Bud Wilkinson No. 2, Biggie Munn No. 3, Earl Blaik No. 4 and so forth ad infinitum, Olejniczak had nobody after Trimble until Bell probably suggested Lombardi. No wonder such compete secrecy shrouded the search for so long. There was nobody else. This is the word from Lombardi himself over the telephone Wednesday night: "I was approached for the first time at the draft meeting in Philadelphia last weekend. I was utterly surprised. I went to Green Bay by invitation Monday. I met the executive committee. I told them I would accept if they wanted me. They said they did. That's all there was to it." Won't some of the Fox River oldsters who have bungled so successfully now step aside and give Lombardi the chance he deserves to put the Packers back where they belong? He can do the job but he doesn't need executive committee help - whether from 13 men or six. He needs only Lombardi and the assistants he picks.
LOMBARDI TO BE SUCCESS, GIANTS INSIST
JANUARY 28 (New York) - The football Giants said Wednesday they "hated to lose a fine coach" like Vince Lombardi but believe he will make a success of his new job as head coach and general manager for the Packers. "Vince had another year to go on his contract with us bu we didn't feel we could stand in his way when Green Bay officials approached him during the NFL meeting in Philadelphia last week," said Ray Walsh, New York's general manager. "We hate to lose Vince but we feel he will do a terrific job for the Packers," Walsh added. In New York, Lombardi said he considered the job "a terrific challenge." He previously had indicated interest in Army's vacant head coaching job after Earl (Red) Blaik resigned recently. "But this is even more of a challenge." Lombardi said. "After all, you can't top the brand of football they play in the NFL." Lombardi roared with laughter when reminded that he also was moving into the pass-conscious Western Division, where the emphasis is on his specialty - offense. "Don't try to scare me so soon," he said with a chuckle. "I've taken only a quick look at the Packer roster," Lombardi said. "I'll get into that when I get to Green Bay on Monday. I understand all the assistant coaches who worked with Scooter McLean are gone. That suits me fine because I'd like pick my own assistants and the Packers have give me the right to do that. The Packers first approached me at the league meeting last week. We reached a tentative agreement last Monday and they notified me Wednesday that I had been approved unanimously by the club's Board of Directors." Lombardi indicated he was going "all out" to make a success of his first head coaching job. He said he was making a complete break with New York to shift to Green Bay, probably the most football-conscious city in the nation. He said he planned to sell his house in Fair Lawn, N.J, and move to Green Bay with his wife and two children. "I certainly appreciate the Giants turning me loose," Lombardi said. "I'm making a complete break and moving to Green Bay - lock, stock and barrel."
FOOTBALL 'ART' TO IDEA-MAN LOMBARDI
JANUARY 29 (New York) - Green Bay is getting a man after its own heart in Vince Lombardi. Green Bay believes football is the world's best game, and, for its size, is the game's biggest booster. Lombardi agrees. He eats, sleeps and dreams football. And one of his dreams came true Wednesday when the Packers gave him a five-year contract as head coach and general manager. Lombardi, offensive coach for the Giants for the past five years, scribbles plays on envelopes, matchbox covers or anything else he can find when a play is taking shape in his mind. He considers football an art and, for some time, he has been ready and anxious to put his ideas into action as the head artist. The Packers position is his first head coaching job above the high school level, but his position with the Giants gave him an ample opportunity to test his ability to handle NFL players and tactics. Jim Lee Howell, New York's head coach, gave Lombardi complete charge of the team's offense. Vince designed the plays, explained them on the blackboard and the practice field, handled the offense during games, including player changes, and sometimes called plays. Lombardi also had charge of running off New York's game films and it was his booming voice that distributed praise or scorn, depending upon what showed up on the screen. The Packers, who enjoyed some of their great years when they had Don Hutson to thrill their fans with his pass catching, also are getting an alert imaginative coach in Lombardi. "Vince is the kind of coach I like - daring," Howell once said. The Giants opened their 24-21 upset over the Colts last November 9 by surprising their opponents with a 65-yard pass from Frank Gifford to end Bob Schnelker in the opening seconds. It was a typical Lombardi maneuver. Lombardi joins Paul Brown of the Browns as the only men in the NFL holding both the head coach's and general manager's jobs. Like Brown, who has won more games in the last decade than any other NFL coach, Lombardi switched to football after starting to study law. Lombardi specialized in offense during his years as assistant coach with the Giants, Army and Fordham. But - again like Brown - he knows that defense is the key to football success. "I don't know much about the Packer personnel yet," he said while discussing his new job. "But I'll put the best players on defense. That's the best way to build a team."
PACKERS SIGN ANDY CVERCKO
JANUARY 31 (Green Bay) - The Packers announced the signing of Andy Cvercko, 240 pound tackle from Northwestern University who was their fifth draft choice. Cvercko played an average of 52.2 minutes in each of Northwestern's nine games. Cvercko has been a starter for Northwestern since his sophomore season. He will be a guard on offense for Green Bay.
LOMBARDI RETAINS VAINISI; EYES NICK SKORICH AS AIDE
FEBRUARY 3 (Green Bay) - The Packers' immediate personnel needs are four assistant coaches and a business manager. That was the word today from Vince Lombardi, the club's new head coach and general manager who arrived from his home in Fair Haven, N.J. Monday afternoon. "I hope to have three of the four assistants by next week," Lombardi said, "and one of them might be Nick Skorich. I have been in touch with him." Skorich served as line coach under Ray McLean here last year. The Eagles and Redskins are also interested in Skorich. Lombardi said Skorich would coach the offensive line. Jack Vainisi, the Packer talent scout, will remain and carry on with his present duties, Lombardi announced. Lombardi, accompanied by his wife, Marie, said he may "make a decision on a business manager in a few days." Vince said he wanted to look over the Packer setup before acting. Verne Lewellen, who is replaced by Lombardi as general manager, stated earlier that he will be a candidate for the position of business manager. Lombardi was to be officially introduced to the Packer Board of Directions and the press, radio and television representatives at a luncheon at the hotel Northland this noon. Lombardi was expected to sign a 5-year contract sometime today. The Lombardi's will stay here until Thursday or Friday before winging east for the weekend. He'll return early next week to start fulltime work. Vince said, "we'll rent for a month or two before we buy a home; we'll have to sell our home in Fair Haven." Lombardi was flooded with questions from news hawks practically as soon as he stepped off a North Central Airlines plane Monday. And the questions continued even after they checked at the Northland. Here are some of the answers: "I expect to take a more active part in coaching than Jim (Lee Howell, head coach of the Giants). I'll have a coach in charge of offense and one in charge of defense, but I'll work more with my assistants that Jim did with us." (With the Giants, Lombardi handled the offense and Tom Landry defense). "Yes, I said I'd put my best players on defense, but that's a general view. I certainly do not intend to have Billy Howton, for instance, playing defense. It means that I'll emphasize defense a little more. A good defense is a great morale factor. It hurts the bench and the offense when a team is getting run and scored on. Two-way players? There are some players that just can't be considered 2-way players, but the offensive and defensive linemen will become familiar with each other's plays. I have given considerable thought to my adjustment in coaching (players in large city as compared to players in small city). I realize it will be different here where most everybody knows the players personally. The coaches and players have an entirely different problem compared to large city players who can easily get lost. I hope to hold workouts down to an hour and a half - better yet an hour and 15 minutes if possible. The players will know exactly what they will do in every minute of practice. We won't be using the slot system as you have been using here. Our emphasis will be on power plays. The end will be required to some blocking - just as the slot back. I want to get assistants lined up quickly because of the monumental job ahead. We've got to look over the films and grade all of the offensive players - everyone of them. We'll also grade the defensive players. The grading will be of especial value in judging our offensive materials. I know George Shaw (Baltimore quarterback who has asked to be traded) but I wont' do any trading until I look over our present quarterbacks in the films. That make take a couple of weeks and I don't know if Baltimore will wait that long. There's a good nucleus of veteran players - boys like Ringo, Currie, Bettis, a tough linebacker in Nitschke. I understand Forester didn't have a great year in '58, but he might have a great one next season. Duncan? We're going after him quite soon, and I may go out there to see him (Randy Duncan, Iowa QB and the Packers' first draft choice). I understand he's going into the Army for six months but he should be out in time."
SAY COCHRAN TO BE PACKERS' BACKFIELD COACH
FEBRUARY 3 (Detroit) - John "Red" Cochran will be named backfield coach of the Green Bay Packers, it was learned today. The 36-year old former Chicago Cardinal back was let go recently by the Detroit Lions after three seasons as backfield coach. He was replaced in Detroit by Ray "Scooter" McLean, who quit as Green Bay's head coach. Vince Lombardi last week became Green Bay head coach.