outback of Green Bay, a place Marie needed an atlas to locate upon learning Vince would be tacking the Packers’ head coaching job instead of continuing his brief off-season banking career, she desperately misses her family and friends back east, the Manhattan social scene and, of course, shopping at Bloomingdales.
Other premiere Packers depicted in Lombardi include Jim Taylor, the “Thunder” to Hornung’s “Lightning” in Green Bay’s unstoppable power sweep offense. Taylor is played with the likeably dim demeanor of a faithful plow horse with only so many rows left in him by Chris Sullivan, a Broadway
But rather than see her husband suffer a selfimposed banishment to corporate exile, Marie moved to the snowbound American Siberia of Wisconsin, to make her fearsome but frustrated hubby happy. Good woman, that Marie. I’d buy her a drink but she seems to have plenty of her own. Into this loving but combustible and slightly sauced dynamic comes, suitcase and notebook in hand, Michael McCormick, niftily played by Broadway newcomer Keith Nobbs, a young sportswriter from Look magazine on assignment to document the proud heart and private soul of a certifiable living legend, who just may certifiable in other areas as well. Unbeknownst to McCormick, his article is also meant to provide damage control following an Esquire feature that took exception to the coach’s old fashioned work ethic and winning is everything mentality. (I knew there was a reason I never liked Esquire.)
rookie via a decade of solid credits in the semi-pros, a.k.a. Chicago. Defensive star and early players’ union organizer Dave Robinson rounds out the trio of Lombardi’s real life All Stars. Robert Christopher Riley’s Robinson is a dedicated, purposeful man who just wants to play one perfect game of error free ball that leaves The Coach with nothing to complain about. Though, in reality, it was when Lombardi stopped criticizing when a player really knew he was in trouble and it wouldn’t be long before he was cleaning out his locker and boarding the next train for Detroit, Cleveland or the new upstart AFL. Eventually who among the Packers is allowed to contribute to McCormick’s piece, (and who gets final edit) becomes Lombardi’s turning point. Though clearly it’s all just an excuse for the audience to get the closest thing to face time with the coach with a gift
It’s semi-interesting to note that McCormick is the only character not based on a real person, but a composite of the era’s sports journalists, as well as David Mariness, on whose Lombardi biography, When Pride Still Mattered, the show is based, and partly on Lombardi’s estranged son, Vincent Jr., whose relationship to his father is mentioned backhandedly as befitting his apparent upbringing. Along the way McCormick makes fast friends and enemies, briefly, of Lombardi and several of his star players including Paul Hornung, played by Bill Dawes with a relaxed Mathew McConaughey style charm befitting the team’s leading scorer both on and off the field. Dawes delights wickedly while drawling Hornung’s strategy: “Why get married in the morning. You never know who you’ll meet that night.”
for human alchemy, the rarest of teacher who knows what buttons to push to turn a pack of perennial losers into a legion of chest beating champions. And no Mr. Kotter, for once I’m not talking about you. Welcome back by the way. Little matter in the eyes of eternity does it make that the cost of Lombardi’s winning ways was a trail of fractured family relationships and a cancer that would prematurely snuff out his twice brightly burning, gut churning candle. Would he have changed a thing if he could? Doubtful, according to Marie; the three things that mattered to Vince were God, family and the Green Bay Packers, with family placing third and God not exactly a close second. Like any winning team Lombardi is the cumulative effort of a group of individuals
DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM
Encore Magazine - New York City