Joe Lombardi has had the rare experience of having his name appear in lights on a theatre marquee, being introduced as an opening-night honored guest, and standing on stage next to one of America’s most revered trophies that bears his family name.
All that happened on one night. Talk about a triple crown that would make any person proud.
Lombardi, who agreed on Tuesday to become the Lions’ offensive coordinator after seven seasons with the New Orleans Saints, was an obvious choice to be an honored guest of Le Petit Theatre’s management on opening night of the local production of "Lombardi" in New Orleans in September.
Lombardi is the grandson of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The play "Lombardi" is based on "When Pride Mattered," a biography written by David Maraniss. It closed on Broadway on May 22, 2011, after a successful run.
When the theatre’s management invited Joe Lombardi to attend opening night on Sept. 6, he got more than possibly could have been expected.
In addition to Joe and his wife, Molly, the Saints’ delegation included team owner Tom Benson, head coach Sean Payton and a star of the entourage that couldn’t hear the applause or bow to the crowd.
It was the Lombardi Trophy, awarded to the Saints for their 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
Cassie Stick Worley, executive director of Le Petit Theatre, said Joe Lombardi was well known to Saints fans because of the success tf he team and its high-powered offense. Lombardi was quarterbacks coach the last five years.
In 2011, Drew Brees set the one-season record with 5,476 yards passing. The Broncos’ Peyton Manning threw for 5,477 yards in the 2013 regular season, breaking Brees’ record by a yard.
Joe Lombardi got a huge ovation from the opening-night crowd that filled the 368-seat theatre, Worley said.
"What was so incredible, I came out to welcome the crowd, and there I was, standing next to the Lombardi Trophy," she said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I called up Joe, and he got such an incredibly warm welcome.
"He got huge applause."