When asked if he is a football fan, actor Keith Nobbs — who plays sports reporter Michael McCormick in Eric Simonson's play, now at Circle in the Square — replied, "I am. I'm a Giants fan."
He quickly followed up with this: "My brother's a massive Giants fan. I was shooting [a project] in Australia when they won the Super Bowl — those amazing last few minutes with Eli Manning! My brother was visiting me and he called all the Australian pubs to find out when the Super Bowl was playing. And we all went there [and] he had all these Aussies doing these Giants chants."
We pressed the issue, asking, "So your brother is a fan?"
"He's a massive fan," Nobbs repeated.
You don't know anything about football, do you, Keith Nobbs? "No," he admitted. "I am absolutely learning. Basketball is definitely my sport, yeah. When I got hired for this job, I actually went out and I bought 'Football for Dummies.' It's the truth."
He then implicated a fellow cast member. "I was sitting there at the first rehearsal and they're talking — and these people are just football geeks," Nobbs explained. "They're talking about things I don't understand at all, and Judith [Light] leans over to me and she goes, 'What are they talking about?'"
Nobbs gave her some advice: "Go get 'Football for Dummies' — go get it!," he said.
Light, who plays Lombardi's wife, Marie, opposite Dan Lauria's Vince, admitted that the incident took place: "My darling Keith Nobbs, the first day of rehearsal, said, 'I don't know anything about football!' and I said, 'I don't know very much about it, either!' And he said, 'I got 'Football for Dummies,' and I went out and I bought it that afternoon."
A better source on the subject was Lauria himself, who played football and coached in the past. "Dan has really taught me a lot about football," she said.
There was more than just "Football for Dummies" to prep for the role, Nobbs said. He also read the David Maraniss book that inspired the play — "When Pride Still Mattered." He also got to step into the world of sports reporters.
Nobbs explained, "We get all these great perks through the NFL and through these producing partners. We went to the Giants game the other day, and I got to sit in the reporter's box and actually be with all the sports reporters and watch them, which is very different, I'm sure, than it was in 1965 [when the play is set]."
He also read sports articles from that time period. "There was still this poetry to the sports writing," he said. "There was this…responsibility to make these stories myths for children growing up. And now you're so inundated — there are so many outlets online and blogs and so many newspapers. You're just so flooded...that sometimes the stories themselves don't feel as special as they [once] did."