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The man who hired Lombardi: A Packers family established franchise's dominance

Mark Olejniczak showing off a Super Bowl ring
Posted at 9:26 PM, Dec 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-18 16:33:27-05
  • Dominic Olejniczak served as president of the Green Bay Packers for 24 years, longer than any president in franchise history
  • Olejniczak grew up near Hagemeister Park, the former home of the Packers
  • The Packers Hall of Famer was also the mayor of Green Bay for ten years
  • His legacy includes choosing to hire Vince Lombardi in 1959 and raising a large family that still resides in Green Bay
  • Video shows Olejniczak's son Mark and granddaughter Sara speaking about their family's place in Packers and Green Bay history

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

The Packers' success in the 1960s built what the franchise is today: Lambeau. The G. Titletown. Much of that success is rightfully attributed to Vince Lombardi. One family helped bring Lombardi — and success — to the franchise.

Vince Lombardi led the Packers to five titles during his nine years as head coach. But if it wasn't for longtime Packers president Dominic Olejniczak, Lombardi might have never ended up in Green Bay.

"What happens if, when he went to New York to hire Vince Lombardi, he didn't hire Vince Lombardi?" Mark Olejniczak said.

Dominic Olejniczak's son Mark remembers his father flying to New York to search for a coach.

"The guy that they were wanting him to look at was a defensive coach by the name of Tom Landry," Olejniczak said. "And [Landry] did all right for himself too, I guess."

But Dominic, in just his second year as team president, chose Lombardi. And the rest is history — the team improved from one win in 1959, to five rings in a span of seven years. Plus, Mark's favorite memory — the Ice Bowl in 1967, when a teenage Mark ran the 60 steps from the press box to the field to show Bart Starr photos of the Cowboys' defense.

"As I was running down those steps, I would see people with icicles coming off their beards," Olejniczak said. "It was very cold."

Mark's daughter Sara wasn't alive for those memories, but she remembers the high standards her dad and grandfather held for their family and business.

"You hear memories, you see the pictures, which is absolutely beautiful," Sara Olejniczak-Laughlin said, "but I think what is really instilled in my siblings, my sisters and my brother, is just such a sense of pride."

Dominic Olejniczak was the mayor of Green Bay, board member of the Packers, land developer, and a father — all at the same time.

"Not many people are able to be a pioneer the way he was," Olejniczak-Laughlin said.

Mark believes Dominic, who died in 1989, would be shocked by the empire the Packers became.

"If Dad were here now, he'd probably be looking around, and he'd look at the Packer houses and look at Titletown and say, 'Oh, my. What is this?'" Mark said.

Even though Dominic helped build the foundation for both.

The Olejniczak family is not a part of the Packers front office anymore, but they still own and operate Mark's real estate company, based in Allouez.

And you can expect some combination of Mark, his five children, or his twelve grandchildren at just about every Packers home game.