Richard Nixon photo

Statement on the Death of Football Coach Vincent T. Lombardi.

September 03, 1970

WHEN I THINK of Vince Lombardi, I think of him standing at the side of a football field, his attention focused sharply on his team. He was an imposing figure--and an inspiring one. On the field and off, his very presence was commanding. As I think of him that way, I know that he will always hold a commanding place in the memory of this Nation.

Vince Lombardi believed in fundamentals. On the football field this meant blocking and tackling and running to daylight. Off the field it meant his church, his home, his friends, and his family. He built his life--as he built his teams--around basic values and that is why his greatness as a coach was more than matched by his greatness as a human being.

Many who knew very little about football nevertheless knew a great deal about Lombardi. They knew that he was a man of discipline and determination, of courage and commitment, of pride and purpose, of loyalty--and of love. They knew that he had reached the top of his field because he was able to help others discover the best that was in themselves. Like the power sweep which became his trademark, the power of Vince Lombardi's personality swept the world of sports and made a lasting impact on the life of all it touched. He asked a great deal of his players and his associates. But he never asked more of any man than he asked of himself. The lesson all Americans can learn from Coach Lombardi's life is that a man can become a star when, above all else, he becomes an apostle of teamwork.

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of talking on the telephone with Coach Lombardi in the hospital. In this, his last great battle, his courage and strength of character were mare evident than ever before. I had called him to give him a lift but his attitude raised my spirits. It was a great inspiration to talk with him.

Mrs. Nixon and I are profoundly saddened by the untimely death of Vince Lombardi and we extend our deepest sympathy to his family. With millions of Americans, we will remember Coach Lombardi as a leader of men who was always a winner in the best sense of that word, a great sportsman and a great American.

Note: The statement was released at Coronado, Calif.

Vincent Thomas Lombardi, 57, coach of the Washington Redskins Football Team, died of cancer September 3, 1970, in Washington, D.C.

Richard Nixon, Statement on the Death of Football Coach Vincent T. Lombardi. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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