Funeral services for Bob Addie, former sportswriter and columnist of The Washington Post, were held yesterday at St. Bartholomew's Church in Bethesda. A memorial tribute for Mr. Addie, 71, who died Monday night, will be held at 10 a.m. today at the Touchdown Club. Mr. Addie's column, "As the Coach Lay Dying," about Vince Lombardi, won several awards and typifies the feeling he had for the people he covered.
Monday, Aug. 31, was the 30th anniversary of the marriage of the former Marie Planitz and Vincent Lombardi. The marriage took place on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 31, 1940, in Englewood, N.J., where Lombardi was busy teaching chemistry, Latin and physics at St. Cecelia's High School as well as coaching the football, baseball and basketball teams (all won state championships). In addition, Lombardi was attending Fordham Law School.
Mrs. Lombardi permitted herself a few reflections the other evening at Georgetown Hospital where she has taken a room across the hall from the seriously ill coach and general manager of the Redskins.
It was dusk at the hospital and people were busy visiting patients. But none found his way to the coach's room. These days, Lombardi sees few people outside his wife.
"People have been wonderful," Mrs. Lombardi said. "At one time Vin was getting 500 letters a day, Mass cards, and all kinds of suggestions from healers as well as encouragement from rabbis, priests and ministers.
"Some well-meaning people sometimes cause problems. Two girls came by one day and wanted to pray in his room. I told them the prayers would be just as effective if said in the hall. I finally convinced them."
Mrs. Lombardi picked up a "flower lamp" which had come from Ethel Kennedy. The floral arrangement resembles a floor-to-ceiling lamp with various objects attached such as candy, a miniature brandy bottle and other trinkets. "What's this I've been hearing about you running to daylight with the nurses," read the card. "Love and kisses from Ethel."
Mrs. Lombardi is a chain smoker and her vigil has not diminished her habit. "We had a coaxial cable which brought the first three Redskins games to Vin," she said, lighting one cigarette from another. "Those people from CBS who put in the cable couldn't have been sweeter. The Washington press has been wonderful, too. Vin watched about one half of each game. When some of the players didn't do things right, his language really blistered the ears of those nurses. I remember he looked asleep watching one play and I said something about Charley Taylor dropping a touchdown pass. 'I can see,' he growled."
Mrs. Lombardi revealed that the coach's hair has grown long in the last few weeks. "Vin a longhair, that's beautiful," she said. "Vin always has his hair cut every week. He has the type of hair hard to cut. His father, who is 81, has a beautiful head of hair."
Marie Lombardi has been more than a football coach's wife. She has been his permanent assistant, his critic, his haven, his partner, his constant companion.
"I miss the travel--the buses, the planes," she said. "I went everywhere with the Packers. I was the only woman on the trips. But, you know, Vin likes women around. That famous 5 o'clock happy hour of his always included women. He believed that women take a lot of abuse from their men during the season and it's only right that they share some of the fun and the glory.
"I shared the championship souvenirs. I'll tell you a funny thing. Young Vincent, my son, was given two rings and a watch as souvenirs from the Packers' championships. He refused to wear them. He told his father: 'I didn't earn them.'
" 'I wore a ring of my father's for years,' Dad told young Vincent, 'and I didn't earn it either. All right, I'll give the stuff to my grandchildren.' "
Mrs. Lombardi wears a charm bracelet made entirely of miniature gold footballs. "There's a story in these," she explained, "and maybe it tells something about Vin Lombardi, the man.
"He's different from most coaches because he believes that a football team is a family. He is the head of the family and he shares the players' problems and joys as if they are his own children. They often say Vin is like the commander of a Roman legion, but if he is, he commands a legion of love.
"Anyway, one of my delightful duties every year at Green Bay used to be hosting a luncheon for the wives of the players. One time I was ill and got to the luncheon a little late. There were 40 women there and crazy Max McGee, the end, who is a bachelor. I love that man. It turned out to be a surprise party for me. The girls gave me this charm bracelet and I was so touched I nearly cried--and I hate to cry in public.
"They're all gold footballs and each means something. Two were Army-Navy footballs. That's when Vin was an assistant to Red Blaik at Army. During that time we beat Navy two out of five--not much but we got two. Two are Fordham footballs when Vin was one of the 'Blocks.' (The famed Fordham line with which Lombardi played was known as the Seven Blocks of Granite.)
"Six of the footballs," added Mrs. Lombardi, "represent Green Bay titles. It was a sweet gesture."
Mrs. Lombardi has been something of a "den mother" to the Packers and Redskins. "I always was a friendly soul," she confessed. "Sometimes, I'd see a boy who looked down. You know, they're big strong boys but they are, after all, only boys. So I'd cheer up the poor boy. Most times it turned out Vin chewed him out so the boy felt better after we talked. Vin never put me up to it."
There was the time, she says, that Dan Currie, the big Packer linebacker, asked permission to take two of his four children on the Green Bay charter.
"We were going to play Los Angeles in 1964," Mrs. Lombardi recalled, "and one of the Currie children was a baby. Our team doctor discovered the baby had the measles. The information got all over the plane. I picked the baby up and put him in Vin's lap. Both screamed. Fortunately, nothing came from that, although the Rams did hold us to a 24-24 tie."
Mrs. Lombardi reveals that when the coach went to New York during the recent player rebellion, he overtaxed himself. "Coming back on the plane from New York was a nightmare," she says. "I pleaded with the clerk at La Guardia in New York to put Vin aboard ahead of the crowd so he could relax. It was a long time before he got on the plane, and when he did, the stewardesses ignored him. I know this is an isolated example because we always received wonderful treatment--but of all the times to be ignored.
"I had two big bags and I was struggling when we got back to Washington. A nice young man passed by and asked Vin if he could help. You know Vin. He never needed help. But he turned to this young man and said: 'Help me.' I almost cried right there.
"I never met a football player I didn't like," she continued, "although I must admit that at times I've come close. One boy I loved was Donny Anderson, but I didn't think he was much of a halfback and I told Vin so when we got to Green Bay.
" 'You're wrong, you're wrong,' Vin said. 'This boy is going to be great.' A week or so ago I was giving Vin a rundown on the scores and he was obviously pleased when Donny scored three times in the exhibition game against Dallas. 'How about that lousy halfback, Donny Anderson,' he said."
Mrs. Lombardi says the coach has been bouyed by visits of his former players including Bob Skoronski, Forrest Gregg, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Tommy Brown, Bart Starr, Bob Long and Jerry Kramer.
"I think Bill Austin will do a great job with the Redskins if they leave him alone," Mrs. Lombardi reflected after a pause, "I like the Redskins. I think they can win the title."
It was dark now and the hospital sounds had stilled. There was only the oppressive silence of the hot summer evening and the sounds of cars leaving the hospital. The door across the hall, 6100, had remained undisturbed.
"I keep thinking," the coach's wife mused, "about Vin staying in football as a coach and general manager. In the end, I think football will break his heart, because he'll have to fight the owners for being too permissive to the players. He would lose his fight to prevent the players from dictating terms.
"But I mustn't think. Vin always tells me: 'Don't think, Marie.' Right now, I don't think."
She put her head down, but even then she didn't cry in public.