Good news, football fans! There’s finally going to be an inspirational film centered around the sport made just for you. All is Lost and Margin Call writer and director J.C. Chandor will take pen to paper once more to channel the tale of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, the man who led the team to five NFL championships and their first two Super Bowl titles.
It seems crazy that there hasn’t been some kind of Lombardi flick yet (save for a 70’s TV movie, Legend in Granite starring Ernest Borgnine) considering his achievements in the sport. Lombardi coached the Packers from 1959-1967, accomplishing those stellar titles in those brief nine years. As head coach, he garnered a 105-35-6 record with zero losing seasons. There’s no denying that he was one of the most talented and celebrated coaches in the NFL’s history.
So naturally, his story of coming to the Packers’ aid and his rise to success needs to be told on screen; before Lombardi’s influence, the Packers were doing so poorly that the franchise was about to crumble altogether. But like all great sports movies, the presence of a man with a plan and some probably noteworthy inspirational speeches to dole out on a frigid game day was not only enough to boost their playing abilities — it was enough to make them champions.
The still-untitled Lombardi film, which Chandor is eyeing to direct as well, is not the only project centered on the coach currently in the works. Nearly four years ago, ESPN Films announced that Robert De Niro would star in Lombardi, written by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), a film that would start in 1959 when the coach took over the Packers and also focus on his rivalry with Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry. Not much has surfaced about the production since the announcement, but it has been rumored that De Niro has since stepped down, to be replaced by John Travolta.
As the Roth film is based on the memoir by Packers lineman Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap “Instant Replay,” there hopefully won’t be too many similarities to Chandor’s venture if the first film should ever make it off the shelf. Chandor is working with the Lombardi estate to gather material, as well as basing the film off the Broadway play based on the coach (who knew?). That play is in turn, based on a David Marannis book called “When Pride Still Mattered.” Because when it comes to researching Lombardi, this is apparently the Inception of football.
Chandor’s film seems like it will be the greater of the two, only because the other film allegedly cast Travolta, which seems like an odd choice (De Niro too, while we’re at it). No casting has been announced on the new Lombardi film, though, so it remains to be seen who has been chosen to fill his fedora. Dan Lauria is currently playing him on Broadway, and could certainly make the leap to screen to fill the role. Ed Harris is not that much older than Lombardi was during his coaching glory days — how would he look in a pair of glasses?