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Rewarding Moments In Redskins History: Lombardi Hired As Redskins' Head Coach

Posted Feb 11, 2016

In today’s Rewarding Moments In Redskins History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, we look back at the Redskins’ hiring of legend Vince Lombardi as head coach Feb. 7, 1969.

In today's Rewarding Moments In Redskins History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, we look back at the Redskins' hiring of legend Vince Lombardi as head coach Feb. 7, 1969.

He was, and still is, synonymous with success, Green Bay and the Super Bowl Trophy, among many other things, but for one year, Vince Lombardi left the Packers and joined the Washington Redskins, extending his legacy, to be their head coach on Feb. 7, 1969.

Upon his first press conference, he made light of the fact he was considered a God-like figure, though he did have an Avenue named after him in Green Bay.

"It is not true that I can walk across the Potomac," he said via The Washington Post, "even when it is frozen.”

Then he got serious.

"Why did I choose Washington among offers from other cities?” he asked. “Because it is the capital of the world. And I have some plans to make it the football capital."

Lombardi’s hiring came at an important time in Redskins history. Washington hadn’t had a winning season since 1955, and so his addition revitalized the fan base and helped turn around the culture of losing.

"I would like to have a winner in my first year, if possible,” said Lombardi, who you could consider a prophet. “But we have got to have the right people. We will have to be fortunate with injuries. There will have to be a charisma between the teaching and the receiving."

Lombardi would eventually lead the Redskins to a winning record at 7-5, energizing the fan base before his untimely passing of colon cancer at Georgetown University Hospital. He was released in July to rest but the disease spread quickly in the following weeks.

At his introductory press conference in Washington, Lombardi always remained faithful to his family, and his wife, Marie, it seemed, always knew what was best for him.

"My wife wants me back coaching,” Lombardi said. “She told me I was a damn fool to get out of it. She is a fan as well as a wife. Besides, I miss the rapport with the players."

Then he gave a tip to President Richard Nixon.

“If the President is a pro football fan, he ought to be out to our games here in his home city."

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For one of the few times in his life, wide receiver Art Monk was nervous before an NFL game.

On the eve of the Redskins’ Monday Night Football matchup with the Broncos at RFK Stadium, Monk knew he had the opportunity to break the NFL receptions record.

He wanted to get it out of the way, and so did the Redskins, who faced the Eagles the next week and wanted Monk’s attention, and the team’s attention, on their division rival.

For a moment, on that Oct.12 night, it looked as though the record would have to wait. The Redskins were crushing the Broncos and throwing the ball wasn’t particularly practical as the fourth quarter ran down. But head coach Joe Gibbs pressed on.

He called three pass plays in a row for the eventual Hall of Famer during a final fourth quarter drive.

The third pass was the record-setter, a 10-yard throw from Mark Rypien that Monk caught by the Broncos sideline with just more than three minutes left to play. The reception made history, pushing past Steve Largent, and Monk was quickly lifted into the air by his teammates to celebrate.

"I knew it was for the record. It was a play designed for me to catch," Monk said after the Redskins’ eventual 34-3 victory. "I'm glad it's over. I was nervous before the game--that's something I'm not used to. I was glad to be able to do it here."

With the game in hand, those that didn’t leave early for traffic were rewarded for their patience and roared for their wide receiver.

Monk finished the night with seven catches for 69 yards and would finish his career with 940 receptions, now 17th overall on the all-time receptions list in NFL history.

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