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Coughlin in the round at 'Lombardi'

I went to see “Lombardi” on Broadway last night. Dan Lauria was pretty good in the title role, but I thought the guy who played Tom Coughlin was exceptional.

Oh, wait, that really was Tom Coughlin, on stage after the show to participate in a Thursday Talkback session with the audience. Those who stuck around were allowed to pepper the Giants’ head coach with questions – and with no Pat Hanlon to cut things off! – and listen to his stories about the great Vince Lombardi.

Coughlin made it clear from the outset that he couldn’t shed much light on the lockout or the negotiations in Washington this week. But there was clearly more on the minds of the audience. As one ticket-holder casually asked:

“Have you heard from Tiki lately?”

Coughlin and the audience laughed. Coughlin even light-heartedly called the question-asker a “wise-a--.” But he did not go anywhere near answering the question.

Later, another audience member tried to use the tactic of a young child’s desire to draw out information.

“My nephew really wants to know, is Burress coming back to the Giants?”

Again, no answer from Coughlin. Welcome to my world.

Coughlin did say that he and the coaching staff will have plenty to do in the coming weeks and months whether there are players around or not. They’ll be going over cutups of opponents and their own players, preparing for the draft, and getting ready for a season that may or may not happen.

It was interesting to watch the play with one eye on the performances and another on Judy Coughlin elbowing her husband each time Marie Lombardi griped about life as a coach’s wife. The play – for those who don’t know – revolves around a reporter from “Look” magazine writing a profile of the great Packers coach. As I told Coughlin on the way out: “I don’t know why they call this play ‘Lombardi’ when it’s clearly a story about a sportswriter.”

“You would see it that way,” he said.

A mini-review: I can see why the play has lasted longer than most figured it would. It's small and intimate but the performances are stellar. And it was funny to see a mix in the crowd between suit-and-tie theater-goers and sweatshirt-and-jeans sports fans, which is exactly what the producers were going for. If you haven't seen the play yet, you should. Hey, it might be as close as you can get to football for a while! And the Giants' 1991 Lombardi Trophy will be on display at the theater from March 15-20. You can buy tickets at www.lombardibroadway.com.

Coughlin and some family and friends were there for the play. But here’s a glimpse of how crazy things have gotten in the labor situation. I’m told that had there been a lockout at the time of the performance – a possibility because of last week’s deadline that was extended – the group would not have been able to sit together and watch the show. Son-in-law Chris Snee and Rich Seubert, who was also there, would have had to sit on the other side of the theater.

Labor can’t be mingling with management at a time like this.

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