' ' Cinema Romantico: At the End of the Day: A Football Rom Com

Friday, March 27, 2020

At the End of the Day: A Football Rom Com

Sports, I think we have discovered over the last few weeks do not practically matter, unless you want see them through an economic prism, which maybe we should, though maybe that’s why first-year college football coaches should be paid as much as an adjunct professor. But if sports do not practically matter, I think we have also discovered that sports philosophically matter, which is why in this sudden period of sports stoppage everyone freaked out when NFL superstar quarterback Tom Brady left his seemingly forever team, the New England Patriots, to sign with the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Suddenly there were sports to discuss! I’ve barely even watched the NFL for three years, but I listened to the ESPN Daily podcast to hear the invaluable Mina Kimes talk to Seth Wickersham about the Brady move because, well, sports! I’m glad I did. Because during their conversation, Wickersham mentioned the “seeds planted for this breakup” between Brady and infamous Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and OH MY GOD STOP THE TAPE.

Breakup? I could not stop imagining Brady & Belichick in a gridiron-styled romantic comedy, “At the End of the Day”, in which a player and a coach fall in love, fall out love, and then, in a twist unlike the real story, fall in love all over again.

ACT I. At a pre-NFL draft interview, every question Mitch Maatkamp (Tommy Lee Jones), grizzled veteran coach of the Philadelphia Taxpayers, asks prospective quarterbacks knotty questions, demanding honesty, though his youthful charges don’t recognize this demand as a cunning test. At least, none of them recognize it except Henry Friedline (Jake Gyllenhaal), lightly regarded quarterback from Michigan State. Every question Mitch asks, Henry replies with a classic banality, especially At the End of the Day, as in, “At the end of the day, I just want to win football games.” Smiling, Mitch writes DRAFT in his notebook and underlines it three times.

Flash head to the Philadelphia Taxpayers winning their third Super Bowl with Henry at the helm. Afterwards, as confetti falls and Henry clutches the Super Bowl MVP trophy, he is asked what this means. “You know,” Henry says, “at the end of the day, it’s all about winning football games. And that’s what this was, just another game we won. And I can’t wait to get back into the film room, watch some tape, and start getting ready for a first preseason game next year.” Off to the side, Mitch wipes away a tear. We cut to QB and Coach in a windowless room, wearing Super Bowl champion hats still sporting the price tag and toasting bottles of Budweiser, watching game tape.

“A few years later” the Taxpayers have fallen on hard times. They are 5-5 and Henry is set to be a free agent at year’s end. He has begun wearing beatnik chic designer clothes; he complains to the media about not enough “flash and dash” in the game plan; he has established himself as an entrepreneur, in business with his new life coach and body technician and business partner, Sam Lovelace (Danny McBride). After another loss, when Mitch approaches his quarterback about watching some game tape, Sam Lovelace intervenes, leading Henry emblematically off toward the lights.

ACT II. One day Mitch passes by the third string quarterback, a rookie from Brigham Young, Zach Maribel (Colin Jost), offering banalities to a reporter. “At the end of the day,” Zach says, “I just want to do whatever it takes to help this team win.” Mitch walks over and invites Zach to watch some tape.

Henry, meanwhile, begins to feel weak, perhaps tying back to the antimatter diet espoused by Sam Lovelace, and struggles to break down opposing defenses, possibly a byproduct of Sam Lovelace’s idea that studying game tape should be eschewed for aromatherapy inducing the game plan. Henry’s wacky best friend wife (Jessica Biel) implores him to break up with Sam Lovelace.

At the end of the last game of the season, which they finish a paltry 7-9, Henry, getting dressed at his locker, is approached by the General Manager, asking the quarterback if he plans to resign with the Showboats or become a free agent. “We’ll see,” Henry shrugs as Sam Lovelace walks up, shrouding his business partner in a camel-colored cape. As the two mean leave, they pass the windowless film room, where Henry momentarily stops, seeing Mitch and Zach watching tape together.

ACT III. Henry arrives in St. Petersburg, Florida to interview with the General Manager of the Scalawags, Mike Slipovitch (Michael Rapaport). Oddly, Slipovitch is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops and drinking a Sea Breeze. He offers Henry a cocktail too. Henry declines, citing his diet restricting him to Alkaline Water. When Slipovitch shows Henry the film room, Henry is stunned to see it’s less a film room than a solarium, with windows everywhere. “We don’t believe that winning is the only thing,” Slipovitch says as he sips his Sea Breeze. Henry gets a pained expression.

Back at the Philadelphia practice facility, in their windowless film room, Mitch asks Zach to diagnose a certain team’s pass coverage. “It is what it is,” Zach says. Confused, Mitch says, “But what is the pass coverage?” “You know,” Zach shrugs, “I just take each coverage one throw at a time.” Mitch gets a pained expression.

As the midnight deadline to free agency looms, Henry arrives back at the Philadelphia airport, thirty minutes to midnight, to find Sam Lovelace waiting with an army tank. “It’s your new ride!” he says. Henry shakes his head and catches a cab instead. “I thought football people loved military cosplay!” Sam shouts as the cab peels away. At the team facilities, Henry finds Mitch, drops his duffel on the floor, ditches his cape, and declares “At the end of the day, I just wanna be a Taxpayer.” They embrace.

No comments: