Contributed by: Anna McCarthy
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” These words by the legendary coach Vince Lombardi echo the feelings of every professional football player that has ever won the Super Bowl. The trophy bearing his name is an iconic symbol of their effort to chase after that unattainable perfection. Those that earn the trophy may not have obtained perfection, but they certainly have reached a level of excellence worthy of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
For a trophy receiving such regal treatment, it certainly had humble beginnings. The idea for the trophy originated over lunch in 1966 with then NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and Tiffany and Co. vice president Oscar Riedner. What was later to become one of the most iconic trophies in history started out as a mere sketch on a cocktail napkin. That sketch of a simple elegant design featured a slightly tilted football that appeared ready to be kicked. Relatively unchanged, that sketch became what was later to be known as the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The next year, in 1967, the trophy was awarded to the Green Bay Packers in their victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in what was then called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. At that time the trophy was referred to as the world championship trophy. The game was held in the 94,000 seat Los Angeles Coliseum and had 33,000 empty seats. Tickets cost a whopping $12 or only $6 for the cheap seats. That was the last time a Super Bowl was not a sellout.
Receiving its Name
It wasn’t until 1970 that the trophy was renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the legendary head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Vince Lombardi had led the Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowls and then died suddenly of cancer. During the 1960’s, Lombardi led his team to five total league championships in seven years. Considered by many to one of the best coaches in NFL history, Lombardi certainly earned his name on pro football’s iconic trophy.
The Vince Lombardi Trophy’s design depicts a football in a kicking position on a three sided stand. It is made entirely of sterling silver and weighs in at 7 lbs. It stands 22 inches tall. The words “Vince Lombardi Trophy” are engraved on the trophy along with the roman numerals of that year’s Super Bowl. The NFL shield is affixed to its base. After the trophy has been awarded to the winning team it is sent back to Tiffany’s where it is engraved with the names of the teams, the date, location, and final score. In all, the trophy takes approximately four months to make.
Unlike some trophies, each team receives a trophy for them to keep. In addition, smaller replicas are generally made for each player on the team. These replicas are about three quarters the size of the original and are silver plated versions. They are made for about $500 apiece by R.S. Owens & Co., the same company that makes the Oscar and Emmy awards. The company will only make replicas for legitimate Super Bowl winners, so don’t bother to ask.
Anna McCarthy is an avid sports fan and human resource specialist. She writes on topics ranging from sports stories to business relationships for Able Trophies, a supplier of glass awardsand crystal awards.