The Cleveland Browns movie pitch
By Mike Lukas
The plot these Cleveland Browns have been following for the last two decades is worthy of a Hollywood picture, so let’s cast the movie and write the ending…
The 92nd Academy Awards are happening on Sunday and there are zero football films nominated.
In fact, the only sports-related movie on the Best Picture docket is about auto racing (Ford v Ferrari), and maybe The Irishman if you consider mafia ‘house painting’ a sport.
Over the years, there have been some worthy gridiron-based movies nominated for Oscar – The Blind Side, Jerry Maguire, The Longest Yard, Heaven Can Wait – but none of those must-see flicks have the same level of suspense mixed with tragedy and dismay as the movie that’s currently being pitched in Cleveland.
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You know, that pro football plot that’s been twisting and turning just south of Lake Erie since 1999.
Call it whatever you like:
- The Rise and Never-Ending Fall of the Cleveland Browns
- Hope Eliminated
- In Search of .500
- Carousel of Coaches
- Who ARE We? (The Cleveland Browns Story)
And if you’ve been watching the previews they’ve been showing for decades now on NFL Sundays during the chilly seasons, you already know the plot of this one. But just in case, here’s the elevator pitch.
It’s a horror story based in Midwest America about a historic pro football franchise that’s been stolen from a proud blue-collar city, but then returns years later, same helmets and uniforms, same past honors and glory, only now…something’s different. Off. Shockingly underwhelming.
Imagine My All-American meets Pet Cemetery.
“Sometimes dead is better, coach.”
I’m no Hollywood big shot (in fact I’m the opposite – happily married), but I could easily cast the main characters in this one, no problem.
First and most obvious – head coach Kevin Stefanski must be played by George Clooney, but using Robert DeNiro’s de-aging software.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield could be played by either Matt Damon or Jake Gyllenhaal, depending on whose beard grows thicker.
Running back Nick Chubb could be played by Kevin Hart wearing platform cleats and a muscle suit.
Defensive end Myles Garrett could be played by the Rock or Terry Crews if the wig budget can handle it.
Offensive guard Joel Bitonio could be played by John Cena or Kevin James, depending on which direction the director takes this film (John Woo action or Rob Reiner romcom).
Of course, Cornerback Greedy Williams should be played by Chris Rock (though many suspect he ALREADY IS!).
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry could be played by Will Smith or Jamie Foxx, depending on whose hands are larger.
Odell Beckham Jr. will, of course, be played by himself (if he’s available).
If Clint Eastwood and Sandra Bullock are willing to go out of their comfort zones, they could portray the off-balanced comedy team of Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam.
And Denzel Washington could play new general manager Andrew Berry since it would be fun to hear that Training Day voice in a major showdown with the owners:
“Muh man, Dorsey ain’t got S#%! on me!”
Now if the Browns movie is going to be a Hollywood hit, it’s got to have a better ending than what just happened last season. So Cleveland screenwriters, keep your scripts on hold until we see what these new Brownies can do.
Doesn’t have to be a Super Bowl ending, either. Remember, Rocky didn’t win the match in the first movie, but against all odds, he went the distance. For an underdog, that’s a victory all in itself.
The AFC North is Apollo Creed right now, daunting with league MVP Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, a healed-up Ben Roethlisberger returning to Pittsburgh and soon a fired-up Joe Burrow down in Cincinnati.
For Mayfield and his newly led Browns, going the distance against talent like that means (at the very least) cracking the .500 barrier and making a serious run at the playoffs.
As the credits roll, be nice to see this team celebrating something, anything, fans roaring, Gatorade pouring down Stefanski’s back and Baker being hoisted and carried around FirstEnergy.
Everybody likes a happy ending – be exciting to see if this Cleveland Browns Movie has one.