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How Is an NFL Team Like a Movie?

Some hope this week’s draft brings a sequel, while others need a page-one rewrite

It’s the week of the NFL draft, and if football teams were screenplays, 31 of them would be looking for a rewrite. The exception is the New Orleans Saints. They’re hoping for a sequel.

Los Angeles sort of has it easy when it comes to football. Since the Rams and the Raiders left town, the city has had to rely on college ball to satisfy its pigskin fix. But it isn’t the same.

If the NFL is like the movies, then college football is like a long-running TV show. The cast is constantly changing. It might be awesome or crappy compared to seasons past, but it’s always on. It’s reliable. Even when it sucks it’s a pretty easy fix.

The NFL, that’s definitely a major studio tentpole production. The stakes are high, the money ridiculous and the egos completely out of control. Everyone’s waiting for that stinking writer to finally turn in a draft that doesn’t look like it was written by a fifth grader.

Ninety percent of writing is rewriting. Your agent/manager will tell you to rewrite your manuscript at least five times. Then if you’re lucky enough to get attention from a producer or studio, you’re going to be rewriting it another 10. By the time you’ve taken your 27th pass at the material, you’ll be wondering if you’ll ever see those words “written by FILL IN BLANK” on the big screen or if you didn’t actually die at your keyboard months ago and are in some kind of hell unique to writers.

Football teams are like movie projects, and some are more troubled than others. Some are real close to closing the deal; others need a rewrite and a few miracles to get by.

I’m a fan of my hometown Cleveland Browns, and it has been a rough decade. We’re one of the most troubled projects out there. We’ve had a dozen rewrites and still are not anywhere near ready to start shooting. It’s so bad I’m pretty sure the general manager before Mike Holmgren came to town was Alan Smithee.

And if you think we’re at least pitied, then you don’t know football fans. Check out the message boards over at Fan Nation. Some of the Steeler fans are so irate you’d think every resident of Cleveland had taken turns running over their dog.

But a new draft approaches. We will make our picks, rewrite our team. This new version will be submitted. And we’re hoping this time the football gods will finally give us the greenlight.

Michael Lee is a novel writer, blogger and freelance journalist living in L.A. He's been a judge for the prestigious PAGE Awards and blogs about his two biggest passions, screenwriting and food, at Screenwriting Foxhole and To Cook and Eat in L.A., respectively. Lee is also a co-author of "The Insider's Guide to Screenwriting" and has just published his first novel, "My Frankenstein."