Friday, September 28, 2012

Replacements 2: The Official Sequel

While yesterday night's NFL game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns was about as routinely unspectacular as any game involving the Cleveland Browns would be all season, it did mark the historic end of our long national nightmare as the official NFL referees returned to work after settling their early season lockout with the league. Based on the outpouring of outrage and disgust by football fans across the country over the course of the new season and particularly after the tipping point of the Monday Night Football debacle, this whole ugly affair could not have ended soon enough. If I were an obnoxious, moral high horse, sort of guy I would point out how it felt like I read more widespread and vocal public outrage over the quality of officiating in professional football games on the internet than about the civil war in Syria, famines in Africa, growing anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, or the important issues at the forefront of the upcoming presidential election. However, like I said, I am not the type nor am I in any position to be judgmental. In fact I'll admit I've put more thought into what to eat for lunch at work than basically all those issues combined.

What I have been thinking about lately was that with the end of this strike, we have the real life story upon which to create a sequel to the 2000 Keanu Reeves sports comedy "The Replacements". As the "The Replacements" loosely based their story on the replacement players brought in for the 1987 NFL players strike, particularly of the Washington Redskins, who given a brief chance to live their dream of playing in the NFL managed to win all three of their games with a roster entirely composed of replacement players, "The Replacements 2: The Official Sequel" (final title still open to change) will be the triumphant story about a officiating crew of underdog replacement referees who proved all the doubters wrong and competently officiated football games even better than the professionals (see this is where the "loosely based" part comes in).

It doesn't have to be a straight sequel with the same cast, although I guess Reeves' character could somewhat impassibility be written in as having become a referee after his playing career ended, but the essential story can almost be converted directly. Due to a work stoppage caused by the union of greedy, prima donna professional referees, the beleaguered commissioner is forced to turn to untested, ill suited replacement referees to save the season. The main Shane Falco character would be a ref who had a promising officiating career in college before spectacularly flaming out, losing his confidence, and has been forced to ref poorly organized street ball games just to get by. The other side referees would be a colorful, broadly drawn, ethnically diverse, rag tag bunch of misfits, losers, and outcasts. There's the absurdly fat ref who has always got a sandwich in his hand, the foreign soccer ref who doesn't understand any of the rules, the sassy black ref, the ref that can only make defensive penalty calls, the ref who refs in a dress, and the ref who is amazing at his job but he's legally blind, among others.  They are all of course brought together under the tutelage of the brilliant but maverick head referee coach (not sure if there is such a position) who sees potential in this sad lot and knows he can whip them into shape using his unorthodox techniques.

Initially the replacement referee experiment proves to be a disaster as widespread criticism and fan disappointment abounds. The newly assembled group fails to get along together off the bat, cannot keep up with the pace of the game, and are disrespected by all the players. However, little by little, through a series of workout montages, unusual training strategies, and an inspiring speech or two the officiating crew begins to excel and their competently officiated games begin to gain the attention of a surprised sports nation (insert cameos by real life sports announcers like Bob Costas and Dan Patrick talking about the surprising progress of the new refs). Eventually they work their way up to officiating the Super Bowl and though they initially fare poorly under the intense pressure and scrutiny of the big game, when the entire conclusion of the game comes down to a disputed touchdown, the refs make the correct call (I won't spoil it for you) that decides the whole game and the stadium crowd and the millions of people watching at home cheer in the victory of a well called, fairly judged game. As the replacements slowly walk off the field knowing that their brief time in the big leagues will be coming to an end with the return of the real refs the next season, they are respectfully applauded by the newly won over players, the fans there and abroad, and even that one really dickish pro ref who's been ragging on them the whole time. Oh and the main guy falls in love with some chick, maybe it's a cheerleader, maybe it's a sideline reporter, maybe it's the evil pro ref's hot daughter, your call.

I think there's enough there to make a modestly profitable sports comedy that'll stand up to copious replays on TBS. My only other idea is a spiritual sequel to "Juwanna Mann" where instead of a bad boy NBA player being banned from the league and ending up playing in the WNBA in drag, it is a dirty NFL player who gets kicked out of the league and ends up playing in the Lingerie Football League in drag.

1 comment:

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