DE PERE — The message known well to fans of Green Bay’s football history is this: Faith, Family and one other thing.
“When he was here it was the Green Bay Packers, for me it will be the Detroit Lions,” said Joe Lombardi, grandson of former Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
The younger Lombardi gave the keynote address Saturday at the “Day for Men” event at the St. Norbert Abbey. Lombardi is getting ready for his first season as offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions. While it was a religious event, Lombardi talked plenty of football, including stories about his famous grandfather.
“Growing up we were always surrounded by the memorabilia, the stories of my grandfather, and all that happened here in Green Bay,” said Lombardi. “There’s definitely a special place in our heart for Green Bay.”
Lombardi was invited to the event by Father Jim Baraniak, the Packers team chaplain, whom he got to know at NFL Scouting Combines over the years. Lombardi knows his name evokes strong memories and feelings among football fans, especially in Wisconsin. He says, however, he does not feel extra pressure to succeed as a coach because of his lineage.
“When I started coaching, I knew I would never match the success my grandfather had, so I knew never to get caught up in comparisons,” said Lombardi. “I was always going to come out on the losing end of that one. Just kind of, you added it to the equation when you got into coaching, you knew you were going to have to deal with it, and I think I’ve always had a good perspective on that.”
Lombardi has coached at Lambeau before as an assistant with the New Orleans Saints. He knows the Lions’ visit to Green Bay this season will generate plenty of talk, but for him, it’s just about winning.
“Every time I’ve come to Green Bay, in the regular season anyway, I’ve left a loser,” said Lombardi. “We’re hoping to change that.”