The last time the Giants brought it home to New York was 2012 — and let’s not even get into the Jets. Still the Vince Lombardi Trophy has much deeper roots in New York, especially here in Westchester. Long before Eli Manning and company hoisted the NFL’s iconic sterling-silver prize — long before any winning team did — the trophy was just a football atop a cereal box on a kitchen table in Irvington.
It all started in 1966 when Pete Rozelle, who was the commissioner of the NFL, contacted Tiffany & Co. to design a trophy for the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. Oscar Reidner, a longtime Irvington resident and head of design for Tiffany, was asked by his company to design it. But Reidner had never held a football — or likely even watched a single game. So to acquaint himself, he bought a football from FAO Schwarz on his way home from work that day. The next day, after pouring himself a bowl of cornflakes for breakfast, Reidner cut up the box so it could be a base for the football. Pleased with his design, he met with Rozelle for lunch and sketched his design on a cocktail napkin. Ergo, the birth of the Super Bowl trophy, then-known as the “World Championship Trophy.”
The Green Bay Packers, whose members included none other than Westchester’s own Bob Hyland, and whose coach was Vince Lombardi, received the trophy first. Three years later, the trophy was re-named in honor of the then recently deceased Lombardi.
But the Lombardi trophy’s tie to Westchester doesn’t stop with Reidner. Pat Hanlon, vice president of communications for the Giants for more than 20 years, has lived in Irvington for the past decade. Oddly enough, he bought his house from Oscar Reidner’s daughter, who told Hanlon about her father’s connection to the trophy. “When we heard that, my wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is meant to be,’” recalls Hanlon. When the Giants won the Super Bowl in ’08, Giants President, CEO, and co-owner John Mara let Hanlon take the trophy home for his son’s fifth birthday party. When Hanlon got home, he placed the trophy on his kitchen table. “I said, ‘Oscar, your trophy is home.’”
That year, Hanlon took the Lombardi trophy on a tour of the county, telling fellow residents of its Westchester roots. “It just reinforces what a small world we live in.”