John Pinero, an actor, director and producer.
John has worked on stage and screen and television. But show business is precarious. Most people in it are forever looking for their next vehicle.
Wouldn’t it be nice, Pinero thought, if he could create and star in a one-man play?
If it went well, he could repeat it all over the country, year after year.
People sometimes told him that he looked like the late Vince Lombardi, a Fordham football player who planned to enter the priesthood but instead won six state championships as a high school coach, then became assistant to the famed Red Blaik at West Point, and finally took the cellar-dwelling Green Bay Packers to the first two Superbowl championships. Players often played better for Lombardi than they had for other coaches.
Pinero got to thinking about a one-man play based on Lombardi’s career. He’d never met the coach, who died in 1970, but he began collecting books about Lombardi’s life, and going out of his way to talk with those who had known him well.
Eventually he read every book and magazine article published about the coach, and met dozens of his players and acquaintances. “Vince.” was such a hit that Pinero soon realized he had the role of a lifetime. He has been playing it ever since.
The veteran Times sportswriter Mike Downey wrote, “I know my program said Lombardi was being played by John Pinero, but I didn’t fall for that. That was Vince up there on stage.”
The character onstage showed the same inspirational qualities that Lombardi had. Honda Motors, Nissan, and about two dozen other corporations have hired him to play the Lombardi role in motivational talks to their employees. As we listen to him, maybe we’ll not only get an idea of how Lombardi inspired players, but will catch a spark of zeal ourselves.