A Montclair sports giant will be immortalized on the big screen as Jeremy Pholwattana, a township  resident and president of Sound Entertainment, takes on the story of Howard Finney III, founder of the Montclair Cobras junior football program and its longtime leader.


Pholwattana will be co-producing a documentary titled “King Cobra” to honor Finney’s life and legacy. Alongside Pholwattana, Neil Grabowsky of Through the Lens Studios will produce the documentary, and former New York Giants wide receiver and Montclairian David Tyree will serve as executive producer. 

Pholwattana said he first heard of Finney, known to some as “King Cobra” during his life, from his son, Douglas Finney, in what Pholwattana described as “bar talk.”

Pholwattana recalls hearing so many stories about the coach that each time he and Douglas Finney would see each other, Finney wouldn’t remember which stories he told him. 

“He didn't know which story he told me, but it was always a new story, and it was always a great story,” Pholwattana said. 

The stories showed him what the coach meant to the community and to the children who played for him. “He was more than an athlete, more than a coach,” Pholwattana said. 

Finney started the Cobras in 1969, and over his 41-year coaching tenure he led the team to more than 400 victories. He died in 2021 at the age of 91. 

When Pholwattana approached his co-producer about the story, Grabowsky was immediately onboard. 

“The combination of it being a community story with legs that go well beyond the community, the fact that we've got people, literally all over the world, who have been influenced by Finney is just incredible,” Grabowsky said. 

Howard Finney coached children who went on to be NFL players, among them Tyree, Quintus McDonald and Sean Jones, all of whom will be in the film. Former Major League Baseball player Dale Berra, the son of the late Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, and Larry Doby Jr., son of Hall of Fame baseball player Larry Doby, will also be in the film, as former Cobra players.


Executive producer and former NFL player David Tyree. (Courtesy of Jeremy Pholwattana)
Executive producer and former NFL player David Tyree. (Courtesy of Jeremy Pholwattana)

As Pholwattana makes his way through the planning process for production, he’s warmed by how his idea is being received by those closest to Finney. His children would tell him story after story and provide a laundry list of contacts who would have another account of the beloved coach. 

“They're all receptive, because  ‘Once a Cobra they're always a Cobra,’” he said. 

The number of people affected by Finney’s legacy seems endless, and Pholwattana and Grabowsky encourage anyone who has any stories, photos or videos to reach out to them. 

“We're still getting to know who coach Finney was and getting to know the people that he affected,” Grabowsky said. 

Production of the film is slated to start this spring. People with stories to share about coach Finney can email kingcobradocumentary@gmail.com.