It's no secret that the Green Bay Packers have a long history in being among America's favorite teams. Much of that tradition was built on the success of the Packer teams coached by Vince Lombardi during the 1960s.
To this day, Lombardi continues to be honored in ways that will extend his legacy to generations of people who never knew him.
A Broadway play in New York City, “Lombardi," opened Oct. 21 to pay tribute to the most popular coach Green Bay ever knew. In conjunction with the play's opening, the Green Bay Packers and the NFL teamed up to give one lucky fan the ultimate experience of re-living Lombardi's success and the novelty that is provided by arguably America's most storied sports franchise.
Nearly 75,000 fans throughout the country entered their name for a chance to win a trip to New York for the ideal weekend. And the lucky fan, Bill Nelson from Bradenton, Fla., a man who is used to saying, “I never win anything,” can no longer say such a statement.
As the first prize winner, Nelson received two VIP tickets to the new Broadway play, “Lombardi,” along with a meet-and-greet with performers, airfare for two to New York City and a two-night hotel stay at The Muse Hotel in New York City, and two tickets to the Packers-Jets matchup.
Nelson, who came across the contest when browsing Packers.com, had no idea what the prize package had in store.
“I was browsing the Packers’ website when I came across the contests and decided, ‘why not enter my name?’ I figured it would be another contest I would never win, but I gave it a try anyway. I came home one day to find a message from the Packers saying that I had won. Of course I was excited, but I only figured I had won a hat or something like that.
“When I heard all the details of what I won, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never been one to win anything, so I guess I can no longer say that statement anymore.”
Nelson, a bona fide Packers fan, has lived in Florida all his life, but has been a Packers fan since the age of 7. And while he has never had the true Lambeau experience, he is counting the days until he makes the journey north to see the Packers in New York.
“For as long as I’ve been a fan, I’ve never made it to Lambeau,” Nelson said. “I am definitely excited to get this chance to see the Packers take on the Jets, and am very excited to see the new Meadowlands Stadium, even though it’s not Lambeau.”
Nelson admits he is most excited about attending the game. However, as a true Packers fan -- and Vince Lombardi fan -- the chance to see the Broadway play is just the icing on the cake.
“I hadn’t heard too much about the Broadway play, but I am very excited to see what it entails. I am a huge Vince Lombardi fan, so it’s great to get this opportunity.
“But moreover, I hope to see the Packers clinch a win. And even though it won’t be at Lambeau, I know I will make my way there someday. I think the best time for me to make a trip to Lambeau should be during a cold-snowy game, so then I can get the true Lambeau experience.”
As a dedicated Packers fan, the opportunity to relive the life of one of the greatest iconic sports figures is one to cherish. But for Nelson, the chance to see his team play makes the weekend that much more special.
“Lombardi,” will detail the real story of the man whose inspirations, passions and ability to drive people to achieve what they never thought possible. Directed by Tony nominee Thomas Kail, “Lombardi” is based on the best-selling biography When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss. Dan Lauria (the Wonder Years) and two-time Emmy Award winner Judith Light head the cast of “Lombardi” and are sure to bring to life the legacy of Vince Lombardi.
The Packers congratulation all second-place prize winners in the Online Sign-Up contest, including Raela Schoenherr (St. Louis Park, Minn.,); Patricia Pesek (East Troy, Wis.,); Joanne Fiers (La Crosse, Wis.,); Dennis Maugherman (Hanover, MD.,); Nick Grier (College Park, MD). As second prize winners, participants will receive a copy of “When Pride Still Mattered” autographed by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss and a $50 Packers Pro Shop gift card.