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Gospel of St. Vince

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Vince Lombardi: Learning Something New (1:21)

Ian O'Connor sits down with some former players of Vince Lombardi at the Hungry Peddler restaurant, to tell stories of the iconic coach (1:21)

Vince Lombardi was adrift at age 26, searching in vain for a purpose. He had already decided against being a priest, or a lawyer, or a debt collector, or a butcher like his old man. As something of a weak link on Fordham's famous offensive line, the Seven Blocks of Granite, Lombardi had no dream of making a deferred run at an NFL roster and no vision of coaching at a higher level than he had played.
So he was going to be a teacher at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, N.J., and see where that took him. His Fordham teammate -- and St. Cecilia football coach -- Andy Palau, had hired him to be an assistant, but winning wasn't everything, or the only thing, when Lombardi took the job in 1939. He thought his chemistry, physics, biology and Latin classes might serve his ambitions better than any sweep he diagrammed for Palau's Saints.
Basketball wasn't going to be his game, either, even though the school's eventual athletic director, Father Tim Moore, would pay Lombardi a couple hundred bucks to run the boys' varsity on the side. "Father Moore took a vow of poverty," Vince used to joke, "then lived up to it with me."

This would be Lombardi's first head-coaching job of any kind.

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