You’re reading the words of one of the most displaced Green Bay Packers fans on Earth. As a South Louisiana boy, I am a New Orleans Saints fan to the bone, but the young football fan in me took to the Pack for being the first team to conquer the world of official professional football championships, and they couldn’t have done it without their legendary head coach Vince Lombardi. Less than a year after turning Jack Robinson’s story into big money with 42, Lionsgate is getting set to turn Lombardi’s life into a feature film, and they’re throwing a Hail Mary hoping writer/director J.C. Chandor turns it into a touchdown.
Chandor most recently blew audiences away with the adventure drama All is Lost, in which a lone Robert Redford faced major danger on high waters. There’s no doubt he knows how to turn a limited story into something outstanding, so let’s see if he can turn an outstanding story into something that audiences will flock to. Technically, they’ve only hired him on to write the screenplay for the biopic, which is to be produced by Legendary’s Mary Parent, but the option is open for him to direct, and this seems like the kind of passion project that he won’t be able to step away from after penning the story. But I could be wrong, like the people who thought Brett Favre would come back after Aaron Rodgers got hurt earlier this season. (Packers reference!)
Deadline reports the deal that Lionsgate is bringing to the table involves the Lombardi estate, the Broadway play Lombardi from writer Eric Simonson, and the biography When Pride Still Mattered, upon which the play was based. They would have to raise Lombardi from the dead in order to get a better story for this film.
For those unaware, Lombardi rose to prominence coaching West Point and the New York Giants, taking on the Packers for their worst ever season in the late 1950s. But then he turned them completely around and ended up winning the first two official Super Bowls against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders, though it was the ridiculously cold 1967 Ice Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys that will probably be remembered as his greatest victory. Unfortunately, it was just two years later that he lost his life to cancer, with a professional coaching record of 105-35-6, cementing him as one of the most successful coaches in history.
Of course, there’s also another Lombardi project that has been circling around with Robert De Niro and later John Travolta set to play the legendary coach, since that’s how Hollywood works. We’re hoping they bring back Dan Lauria, who played Lombardi on the stage, and also played Kevin Arnold’s dad in Wonder Years, which coincidentally premiered in 1988 following Super Bowl XXII. (No Packers were involved.)
For more insight into Lombardi’s headspace, check out the following 1964 documentary Run to Daylight, based on the 1963 bestselling book from Lombardi and W.C. Heinz.