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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Lombardi-mania!

What's the deal with all the Lombardi-mania all of a sudden?

First it was a Broadway show, starring Dan Lauria, that opened in October.

Saturday night, it's a documentary on HBO.

Next there is a theatrical film starring Robert DeNiro in the works for 2012.

I asked two of his former players, Frank Gifford and Jerry Kramer, what they made of the Lombardi phenomenon.

"When I first knew him (as a Giants assistant) he wasn't the Lombardi people are honoring now," Gifford said. "He was just a good old boy who hung out with us. He would like to have gone out with us but we wouldn't let him.

"But when he went to Green Bay, he was a very intelligent man and knew he couldn't be buddy-buddy like he was with us.

"Paul Hornung and I have talked about it many times. I told him when he went up there, 'Oh, he's a great guy, you're going to love him.' A few months later he says, 'That guy is a real ----!' I said, 'What are you talking about?' He said, 'Man, all he does is yell and scream and check my room every night.' Of course, Paul came away loving him eventually."

Kramer said of the HBO film, "I loved it. I'm probably not a very good critic because it's a subject near and dear to my heart, obviously. I liked the way they presented it. I liked the way they handled it. I could have watched another hour of it. All in all, it was very positive and I felt very good about it."

Kramer said he also enjoyed the Broadway show: "I'm looking at Dan Lauria and I'm seeing the original. I don't think the copy could ever measure up to the original, but Dan did a hell of a job, a wonderful job. Judith Light, who played Marie, a wonderful job."

Kramer on all the Lombardi stuff coming out: "It's kind of hard to understand, really, especially going back to the era when I started playing. I have a picture of Lambeau Field in 1961. There is a wide open field in front of it, nothing but grass, and there are two chunks of cement sticking up. It seated about 35,000.

"You contrast that picture of Lambeau from '61 to Lambeau today and it's light years different and a really great look at what has happened in the NFL in that time. When we were in the barren wasteland of Green Bay, we really didn't anticipate this kind of thing . . . I really don't think anyone anticipated we would be having a Lombardi renaissance in 2010.

"I think I said in 'Instant Replay' after a couple of years I'll drift back to Idaho and disappear into the mists of time and be a faint memory, maybe. First of all I didn't think I'd be alive at this point . . . My life expectancy according to some NFL reports was 54. So I was tickled to death to see 50. I think maybe they misplaced my card. I'm 74. They probably don't know where the hell I am."

Uh, oh. Mrs. WatchDog just reminded me I'm off today. Gotta go. Enjoy the Knicks' sixth straight victory!

Tags: Lombardi

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