George Halas vs. Vince Lombardi: Who Affected Pro Football More?

Max KienzlerAnalyst IJune 12, 2009

Two legends. Their names are synonymous with greatness. When you say George Halas or Vince Lombardi to an NFL fan, they know who you are talking about and what that man meant to each respective team and to the NFL.

Both have had books written about their accomplishments. Both are considered masters of their trade. Both of their personalities and styles have been broken down and analyzed time and again by coaches all over the U.S.  

The Super Bowl trophy is named after Lombardi. The NFC title trophy is named after Halas. Lambeau Field is located on Lombardi Avenue. The Pro Football Hall of Fame, located in Canton, Ohio, is found at 2121 Halas Drive.

If there were a Mount Rushmore of people who had the most profound effect on the NFL, Halas and Lombardi would be up there (probably Mara from the Giants as well and then someone else, but that is an article for another day).

Lombardi was one of the greatest coaches of all time. He was cunning, smart, and knew exactly how to get the most from his players. He led the Green Bay Packers to back-to-back-to-back NFL championships, including the first two official Super Bowls in the 1966 and 1967 seasons.

He won a total of five titles in 10 years and his playoff record was 9-1. Staggering numbers without question (especially when you take into consideration the one loss was his first playoff game—count that nine playoff wins in a row).

Lombardi also designed one of the more famous plays in NFL lore, the Packer Power Sweep, which if you ever played the old school Sega football games, you know how devastating of a run play that is (or of course, if you were alive in that period, you could attest to this as well).

Halas was one of the founding fathers of professional football back in the beginning of the 1900s. He was player/coach when the Chicago Bears were still playing as the Decatur Staleys. He was there to move them to Chicago.

He named them the Bears.

He was at the first meeting, located in a car dealership, where a group of owners joined together to form the American Professional Football Conference and elected Jim Thorpe as the first commissioner (two years later, with the addition of a couple more teams, they changed the name to the National Football League).

Halas found and marketed the first professional football star in Harold "Red" Grange. Halas took the Bears and Grange on a coast-to-coast tour to promote football as more than just a college sport.

He had the Bears play the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds in front of more than 65,000 spectators, the largest crowd to see a professional football game at the time. Although the tour only spanned a mere 17 days, it included eight games in 12 days and went from New York to California.  

Halas was also instrumental in creating the T-Formation, which led to the Bears dominating the 1940s. He drafted the first African-American player and had the first African-American quarterback in the league.

He kept the league and the Bears going up to World War II, where he then quit football, rejoined the armed forces from 1943-45, then came back and coached the Bears to a title in 1946.

Lombardi was in his third year as coach of the Packers, and two championships deep, when Halas was a part of the first NFL Hall of Fame class in 1963.  

In all 43 years as the head coach of the Chicago Bears, Halas only suffered six seasons where he finished with a losing record. He won a championship in four separate decades.

So when it comes down to it, who did more? Personally, give Halas the nod. His role as an owner/GM/coach led the NFL into starlight. For Lombardi, he might have the edge when it comes to coaching—maybe.

But Lombardi, for all he did, was only coach for 10 years. That's it. I realize when you say a decade it sounds like a lot, and when you look at his record during that time frame, it is unparalleled. 

But Halas was the Chicago Bears head coach for more than 40 years and owner for 60 and was an integral part of not only keeping the league alive during the early years, but also in helping it flourish to become one of the most watched pro sports in the world.