Southern Brooklyn

Daily News: Sheepshead Bay Needs A Statue Of Vince Lombardi!


File:Vince Lombardi.pngUnless you’ve stooped to examine the understated brass plaque embedded in the sidewalk at the corner of East 17th Street and Jerome Avenue, you might never see a public acknowledgement of neighborhood pride for one of Sheepshead Bay’s most famed native sons. “IN MEMORY OF VINCE LOMBARDI: 1913-1970,” the plaque reads. “Dedicated by the Sheepshead Bay Chamber of Commerce, 1974.”

Denis Hamill of the Daily News thinks that this small memorial and the two sites in Bensonhurst named for Lombardi – a public school and a short stretch of 16th Avenue – are far short of a fitting tribute to “arguably the greatest NFL coach in history.”

Lombardi, who was born in Brooklyn in 1913 and raised at 2542 East 14th Street, served as assistant coach of New York Giants for four years, before going on to win five NFL championships – including the first two Superbowls – as head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967.

“There should be a big, brawny, larger-than-life Vince Lombardi statue resting on a block of granite here in Sheepshead Bay,” Hamill wrote in The Daily News this past Saturday.

Citing Lombardi’s rise over anti-Italian discrimination and zero-tolerance for bigotry from his players – even before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Hamill writes that he “embodied the Brooklyn ethic of triumph over adversity through tireless hard work.”

Hamill spoke to several community leaders about their memories of the famed coach, including Richard Stockley, the building manager at St. Mark’s Church where Lombadi served as an altar boy. “I remember Vince as a tough, gruff guy who loved to laugh, and a devout daily communicant. When he spoke, it was like the word of God in this neighborhood,” Stockley recalled.

George Pompilio, co-owner of Gothic Press, a print shop around the corner from Lombardi’s childhood home, had similarly warm memories. “That Lombardi came from the neighborhood made him our hero,” he said. “That he was Italian was a cherry on the cake.”

There is no word yet as to whether community groups are backing Hamill’s proposal, nor where the statue would be erected.

What do you think? Does Sheepshead Bay need a “big, brawny” Vince Lombardi statue?

Katie McNish

Comment policy


  1. If native Brooklynite Joe Torre didn’t get anything more than a field at Marine Park named after him for bringing several World Series titles to NYC, then Lombardi shouldn’t get a statue erected in his honor when his greatest achievements occurred half a continent away.

  2. Sure, why not erect a statue for a famous Sheepshead Bayan. Better than the infamous Mad Max, from Sheepshead Bay and a lot better than the other famous football Coach Joe Paterno, who also is a Brooklynite. Just sayin…

  3. Torre is still alive. Lombardi is dead some 40 years now. Lombardi coached at Fordham, and for the New York Giants. He was not going to become head coach of the Giants so he took a chance on Green Bay. This gave him the opportunity to use his skills and make a real impact on how football was played. Torre was an excellent manager but Lombardi became a legend. Unfortunately I suspect you are too young  to remember.

  4. Yeah, him too. In the triangle that was supposed to have been named for Lombardi. In fact, right next to Vince. And Vince’s uncle Pete Izzo should have a statue in Bill Brown Square. Put up a statue of Bill Brown too while we’re at it.

    And a statue of Irving Lundy in front of Cherry Hill Market, with Irving wagging a disapproving finger at their front door.

    Statues are how we remember those who made a difference.

  5. Yeah, we need to honor and put on pedestals role models of
    America’s great achievements. I guess sports guys are they only ones we have.

  6. I don’t think that we really NEED a statue, but hey, why not?  Put it right in the middle of the triangle on Jerome Avenue.  I think that would be a very appropriate place.

  7. Unless you take a look at the manifest of those Brooklynites who were happy to ,and fortunate enough to grow up in Borough Park (before the Hasid and Hikund ilk, influx!) and eastern Bensonhurst. On that similar note, and not that I would want to bring up another athlete again, I always find it both ironic, sad , and funny , that whenever I’m in the Modell’s ( and they are BP and Erasmus alumni!) at the end of Bay Parkway, I always admire all those wonderful photos of those 1955 World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers. But I don’t see one, of a fellow by the name of Sandy Koufax! He wasn’t just a member of that iconic team, but as I’m sure a number of folks who read and comment on this site know, grew up in BP and Bensonhurst, went to Lafayette, and even more ironically, honed many of his skills on the ballfields of Nellie Bly, across from the store! Go Figure!!!

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