The play, we are told, opens with future Hall of Fame players Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor shortly after meeting their new coach in Lombardi's office, in what was then known as "New City Stadium". The time is August of 1959, as Lombardi was about to start the first season of his run to glory.
And with that, we're off.LOMBARDI
Come in, boys.HORNUNG
Hello, Coach—(Taylor grunts.)LOMBARDI
How'd I do out there, fellas?HORNUNG
Well, I tell you, Mr. Lombardi, you got their attention.LOMBARDI
They could have walked out at once for all I knew.... I did not expect either of you till three days from now.HORNUNG
Was there some sort of confusion with the dates? You're here early.HORNUNG
Just a day or two.LOMBARDI
Three days! How come?! This camp right now is for rookies and walk-ons only. What in the hell you hanging around camp for?!HORNUNG
That is not a question, Mister. If you come around camp, you come to work out, not to stand around and watch or sit with the others during lunch to make conversation. That is what we call a distraction. Why are you here?!
That's actually a real question. Answer.HORNUNG
Me and a couple of the boys, we were....LOMBARDI
What?! You were what?!HORNUNG
Were you thinking you could get a head start on your bar hopping?HORNUNG
Do not lie to me, Paul Hornung! You were spotted till all hours of the night at a place called Bucky's Beanery. This establishment is off-limits. I've got a list—(Picks up a piece of paper from his desk.)
I've got a list here of all the bars and restaurants you are never, ever allowed to frequent again, and if I catch you there, you will be fined. You understand?HORNUNG
Jim, why are you here early?TAYLOR
I messed up on my calendar dates.LOMBARDI
(After a beat.)
O.K. Both of you owe me 50 dollars.TAYLOR
You missed curfew.TAYLOR
I didn't go out drinking.LOMBARDI
Yet you weren't in your bed by 10.HORNUNG
I thought curfew didn't start till Tuesday.LOMBARDI
Mister, curfew started the day you showed up to camp! There is going to be a new way of doing things around here. You understand?TAYLOR/HORNUNG
Now. While I got you here, we might as well make it worth our time. Tomorrow you are going to suit up and work out with the rest of the team. Jim, you are the starting fullback. That is not going to change. Paul, the previous coach had you playing practically every position on the field.HORNUNG
From quarterback to running back and place kicker. Safety, punt and kickoff returns.HORNUNG
Now. Every team has a certain play that is theirs, and if they are good enough at running it, then there is no team that can stop it. Ours is the Power Sweep, we call it forty-nine, and you two are the cornerstones of that play. Jim, you and Paul here are going to be my thunder and lightning. You two are the engine that drives this team to victory.
(Goes to the chalkboard. Now he is speaking to the entire team.)
And this play, gentlemen, will be our bread and butter.
(Diagrams the play. Film and still images wash over the set.)
The offensive end takes an open position exactly nine feet from this tackle. The guard, Jerry Kramer, is wider than usual, for greater latitude to pull left or right. Then you, [Fred]Thurston—you may also break inside or outside, depending on how the play has broken. We create a seal here and a seal here and Jim Taylor, or Paul Hornung, as soon as you get the ball, you follow that blocker, and you run ... in ... the ... alley! You run to daylight! Wherever it shows. Inside the defensive tackle, inside the defensive end, outside the defensive linebacker. You run to daylight. Forty-nine. And this play can break any one of those three places. But ultimately, on this one play we have a hundred different options. Each man must read the defense as it happens and block according to his discretion. It's up to the team to decide which way it goes, each player making split-second decisions in concert. This is our signature play. This is the play that we must make go. Every team in the league is going to know we're going to run this play, and no matter how hard they try to stop us, they won't. Because they can't! And we will run it again and again and again!
(Lights shift back to Hornung)HORNUNG
That season we went from 1-10-1 to 7-5. You want to understand Coach, you watch that play. It's him.
If this is really the opening scene, I'm guessing that the exerpt begins somewhat into that scene. This would seem to be the audience's introduction to Lombardi, but we've already been introduced to Paul Hornung as well as "McCormack", the reporter character, to whom Hornung is presumably speaking.
According to Playwriting 101, I would fully expecting the play to open with McCormack, either young and cocky at the beginning of his assignment to get at the "real Vince Lombardi", or (if the play is to be told in flashback) weary and jaded after he has succeeded/failed. Eric Simonson's a sharp writer, though, so we may well be surprised. And the exerpt is an interesting introduction to the man and his philosophy, not to mention the Packer Sweep.
LOMBARDI had its first preview last night, and opens on October 21st. Tickets are already on sale - time to get a jump on those Christmas lists.