XFL NY/NJ Hitmen Press Release 8
Press Release 8
NY/NJ Hitmen mini-camp news and notes
December 14

The mere mention of the name Lombardi is cause for veneration and awe. While the surname invokes coaching icon Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers, the New York/New Jersey HITMEN™ of the XFL think they’ve got a pretty good coach who just happens to be named Lombardi as well.

Joe Lombardi, 29, is not new to the coaching profession, having spent the past six years on the college level with the University of Dayton, VMI and Bucknell University. And although this is his first professional assignment -- as running backs coach for the HITMEN -- the grandson of Vince Lombardi and son of Vince Lombardi, Jr., believes that he’s up to the task.

“From a coaching standpoint, I’m excited about the opportunity I have with the HITMEN,” Lombardi said. “As far as any legacy that I have to live up to, that’s really not a concern. My job is to prepare my running backs to play well and be successful in this league.”

So far, he’s off to a good start. The HITMEN feature a wealth of talent in the backfield, including running backs Malcolm Thomas, Dino Philyaw, Mike Archie and Nate Simmons, along with fullbacks Keith Elias, Michael Blair and Louis D’Agostino. Under Lombardi’s tutelage, maybe the HITMEN sweep will become a staple of head coach Rusty Tillman’s playbook, just as the famed Packer running play was the staple of his grandfather’s repertoire.

Vince Lombardi was instrumental in bringing Tillman to the Redskins and the two spent time together during his rookie year. It’s no secret that Vince was Rusty’s boyhood idol, and when he came across Joe Lombardi’s resume as he assembled the HITMEN coaching staff, Tillman had no idea of any relationship to his former coach.

“I actually met Joe Lombardi years ago in Seattle when I was coaching for the Seahawks,” the coach said. “I liked his resume and thought that he was the type of young coach that I’d like to have on my staff. Before I actually hired him, I didn’t realize he was Vince’s grandson. He’s been a great addition to our staff, and I’m glad that we got him.”

Joe’s coaching philosophy doesn’t differ all that much from his grandfather’s.

“The players I’m coaching are a great bunch of guys, and half of them are as old as I am,” Lombardi noted. “They’re smart, they learn things quickly, they want to win and excel. But most of all, they want to do things right, and that’s what my grandfather stood for. When you boil it down, although he said ‘winning is everything,’ his credo was do things right…and don’t take shortcuts. That’s how I approach coaching.”

So would his Hall of Fame grandfather want to coach in the XFL?

Although Vince Lombardi died nine months before Joe was born, the most recent addition to the family football legacy believes his famous relative would thrive in the new league.

“First of all, it’s real football,” Lombardi said. “The XFL game will come down to what every football game has come down to since football was invented -- blocking and tackling and fundamentals. Between the lines it’s football and there’s no question football-wise, that he’d be very proud to be a part of this.”
[Day 3 Part II]

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