Veteran actor Dan Lauria, best known for playing the father in ABC's hit The Wonder Years, wowed audiences in the title role in Broadway's Lombardi in 2010.
Lauria, one of the most geniune celebrities you'd ever want to meet, sat down with SportsJam host Doug Doyle to talk about the play, the legendary coach Vince Lombardi and his own love of football.
Lombardi's cast also includes Judith Light as Lombardi's wife Marie, Bill Dawes as Packers star Paul Hornung, Chris Sullivan as Green Bay's bruising running back Jim Taylor and Robert Christopher Riley as Packers sensational linebacker Dave Robinson. Dave Robinson was a guest on SportsJam with Doug Doyle in 2014.
Lombardi, a new American play by Academy Award winner and Steppenwolf Theatre Company member Eric Simonson. Though football’s Super Bowl trophy is named for him, few know the real story of Lombardi the man—his inspirations, his passions and ability to drive people to achieve what they never thought possible. Directed by Tony nominee Thomas Kail (In the Heights), Lombardi is based on the best-selling biography When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss.
Lauria had some experience to fall back on when it comes to coaching football.
"I coached at my old high school Lindenhurst, Long Island, graduated from college, went into the Marine Corps and then went back to my old school and coached two seasons before I went to graduate work at UCONN."
Fellow players and teammates have come to the Circle in the Square Theatre to see Lombardi.
"I can't tell you how many kids I coached have come to the play, which is a lot of fun. Of course the guys I played with in high school, a lot of them we use my performance as a reunion. The guys I played with at Southern Connecticut have come to."
Lauria played football at Southern Connecticut State. His playing days actually led to a chance meeting with Vince Lombardi.
"I was a pretty good player. I was the captain of my high school team (linebacker and center). My sophomore and junior years in high school we won the Rutgers Cup. And in my junior year that spring, Coach Lombardi actually presented the Cup, so I actually did shake his hand. I didn't say anything. But we were big Lombardi fans even before he went to the Packers because he was the offensive coordinator of the Giants. I grew up in a community that was all Irish or Italian, so he was like a hero to us even before he went to Green Bay. After Green Bay he was like the best. I played there and then in college I made all conference my junior and senior year (Southern Connecticut).
Lombardi played its final performance on May 22, 2011.
This edition of SportsJam with Doug Doyle won first place in the PRNDI Award competition as Best Interview in 2010.
Click above to hear the entire interview.