Honor for Packers' Jack Vainisi Long Overdue

A monument to the architect of Vince Lombardi's teams will stand across Lombardi Avenue from Lambeau Field. 

Everybody knows the name Vince Lombardi, whether it's Packers fans, NFL fans or even non-fans who still can't escape his name. He is a monumental American pressence whose shadow it seems impossible to escape, whether you want to or not. 

The name Jack Vainisi? Not so much. 

Oh sure, your random Green Bay Packers die-hard probably knows the name, maybe even knows a little bit about his history with the team and Lombardi. But it's a good bet that if you said that name to the majority of Packers fans, let alone NFL fans, you would be greeted by blank stares. 

Hopefully, a monument to him across Lombardi Avenue to Lambeau Field will start to change that. Perhaps people will see it and ask "Wait, who is Jack Vainisi?" 

Well, it's not too much of an overstatement to say that without Vainisi, Lombardi probably isn't nearly as successful as he was when he came to Green Bay. Hell, he may not have ended up in Green Bay at all. 

Pete Dougherty has a great column over at PackersNews.com on not only local recognition for Vainisi, but a possible Pro Football Hall of Fame bid. (Yes, he is completely worthy of that conversation, though I tend to doubt his candidacy would ever gain any serious traction.) 

Money quote: 

Without getting too deep in Vainisi's case, he has good arguments on his side. For one, he appears either directly or indirectly to have convinced former team president Dominic Olejniczak and the Packers' executive committee to make the franchise-turning decision to hire Lombardi.

And Vainisi was a one-man scouting department when the Packers acquired the players who made up the core of most of Lombardi's teams, including Hall of Famers Paul Hornung, Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Ray Nitschke, Forrest Gregg, Jim Ringo and Willie Wood.

In 1961, which was the first of Lombardi's championship teams, 17 of the 22 preferred starters were players Vainisi helped bring to the team via college or trades. And in 2008, the NFL Network named the Packers' 1958 draft as the fourth-best in league history. That group included Taylor, Nitschke, Jerry Kramer and Dan Currie.

Not too shabby. 

During his time in Green Bay, he held a plethora of official titles, including Chief Contract Negotiator, Scouting Director, Personnel Director, and Chief Contract Negotiator. 

David Maraniss wrote in When Pride Still Mattered that Vainisi “...became known around the league as a boy wonder, lending Green Bay a measure of respect that it could not gain on the football field."

It's good to see that respect is now being shown to the man who gave so much to the Green Bay Packers. 

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Comments (2)

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Rick Norman's picture

May 26, 2015 at 01:51 am

Another bit of Packer lore enriches us!

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Tina Keegstra's picture

July 30, 2015 at 05:26 pm

My mom's cousin! So proud of him and all hi a great dedication to our team!!

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