January 6, 2011: Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach who led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships, including wins in the first two Super Bowls, and for whom the Super Bowl championship trophy is named, is returning to motivate the 12 NFL teams in the playoffs en route to Super Bowl XLV.
Actually, it is not Lombardi himself who will be doing the motivating, as he passed away in 1970, but actor Dan Lauria, who plays the iconic coach in the Broadway show, Lombardi.
Lauria will be featured in a series of spots for NFL Network, "Victory Is Waiting For You," in which he channels the passion, philosophy and determination of Lombari, as he does in the show. Lauria, in character, will open each weekend of NFL playoff coverage with a special monologue, starting with NFL GameDay Morning on Jan. 8.
The NFL is a special producing partner of the show, marking the league’s first Broadway alliance. Among the teams in the playoffs are the Packers, for whom Lombardi himself coached from 1959-1967.
Played out over clips of the playoff teams in action from the just-concluded season, Lauria as Lombardi, regarded as one of the greatest motivational coaches ever, takes center stage in the first spot:
"Well, here we are," he begins. "We've been at this since summertime. Through autumn and now into winter. It's been quite a journey. The work you've done has gotten you this far. You weren't perfect. I know that. But you were good. Good enough to get here."
Lauria as Lombardi then turns up the heat as his booming voice becomes even more determined. "Now it's time to get better. To play harder. To give more. If you don't think you're a winner you don't belong here. Because victory is waiting for you! It's waiting for the Jets. It's waiting for the Colts. It's waiting for the Saints. And the Seahawks. It's waiting for you on that field. It's waiting for you to run toward it. To fight for it. To snatch it away from the opponent and start something that will take you all the way to the Super Bowl."
Then, as a shot of the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy appears, Lauria says," It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. Well men . . . let me see your hearts. Victory is waiting for you." (See full commercial here.)
"It's waiting for you to run toward it. To fight for it. To snatch it away from the opponent and start something that will take you all the way to the Super Bowl."
Lombardi is an original play by Academy Award-winning playwright Eric Simonson, based on the best-selling biography, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss. The production opened in October at Circle in the Square Theatre and recently put tickets on sale through June 19. It was conceived and produced by Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, former longtime head of marketing for Anheuser-Busch.