The Replacements (2000)
A comedy based on the 1987 professional football players' strike. Gene Hackman plays the coach of the team, Jack Warden is the owner, Brett Cullen is the All-Pro quarterback that goes on strike and Keanu Reeves is the "scab" who replaces the star QB.
When the NFL football team, the Washington Sentinels, goes on strike, the team's owner, Edward O'Neill, calls former NFL coach Jimmy McGinty out of retirement to coach a rag-tag team of replacement players to finish the season's last four games in which McGinty turns to former Ohio State player Shane Falco to be the team's captain for the duration of the season and Falco is forced to shape up the misfit players whom include convenience store guard Clifford Franklin, gangster rapper brothers Andre and Jamal Jackson, former sumo wrestler Jumbo Fumkio, a Welsh "football" player called "The Leg", a deaf player, a convict on a work-release program, a tough SWAT leader, and many more while, at the same time, Falco strikes up a possible romance with the team's cheerleading captain Annabelle Farrell.
When the NFL's Washington Sentinels goes on strike, the team's owner, calls former NFL coach Jimmy McGinty out of retirement to coach a rag-tag team of replacement players to finish the season's last four games. Stage left Shane Falco the team's captain for the duration of the season is forced to shape up the misfit players whom include convenience store guard, gangster rapper brothers, former sumo wrestler, a Welsh "football" player called "The Leg", a deaf player, a convict on a work-release program, and a tough SWAT leader. Meanwhile Falco strikes up a possible romance with the team's cheerleading captain Annabelle Farrell.
During a pro football strike, the owners hire substitute players.
- The film opens with Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), a former star quarterback at Ohio State University who choked in his final college game and failed to succeed in the pros, doing his job cleaning the bottoms of peoples' boats. While underwater, he finds a metal trophy football labeled "Shane Falco: All American" and pretends he is playing football again.
Meanwhile, the fictional Washington Sentinels are shown playing a game in which commentators John Madden and Pat Summerall mention a players' strike taking place over salary disputes. As the game winds down, Sentinels quarterback Eddie Martel (#7) (Brett Cullen) chooses to slide to the ground instead of scoring the game winning touchdown to avoid getting injured. After the name, the Sentinels coach, Lindell (Keith David), announces a walk-out of himself and the rest of the team over his players $5 million annual salary demand which has not been met.
The next day, Edward O'Neil (Jack Warden), the owner of the Sentinels, decides to hire Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman), the Sentinels' former coach who was fired after getting into a fight with the team's star quarterback, to recruit replacement players during the strike and coach the team for the rest of the season. He tells McGinty that all they need is three wins out of their final four games to advance to the playoffs. McGinty tells O'Neil he will only do it if he promises not to interfere with his coaching style.
McGinty recruits many different ragtag and misfit players whom include:
Nigel Gruff #3 (K) (Rhys Ifans), a Welsh footballer (soccer player) and pub owner, nicknamed "The Leg" because he can kick a soccer ball the entire length of the playing field. He also has a tendency to smoke on the field and has a crippling gambling addiction.
Walter Cochran #34 (RB) (Troy Winbush), a religious man who is a firm believer in the power of the Lord. Cochran played one game in the pros and blew out his knee.
Earl Wilkinson aka "Ray Smith" #42 (CB) (Michael Jace), a former star defensive back/kick returner, serving a prison sentence for assaulting a police officer. He's allowed to play only with the permission of the governor of Maryland.
Daniel "Danny" Bateman #56 (LB) (Jon Favreau), a reserved, almost reticent man during normal interaction with people, but when placed in an adversarial situation, goes completely berserk, particularly if he sees the color red. Linebacker and defensive captain.
Jumbo Fumiko #68 (OT) (Ace Yonamine), a Japanese sumo wrestler turned offensive tackle with a passion for food.
The Jackson Brothers; two blood brothers and former offensive linemen turned bodyguards for rapper ODB who only seem to excel when they play on the same team. Jamal Abdul Jackson #72 (G) (Faizon Love) and André "Action" Jackson #73 (G) (Michael Taliferro)
Clifford Franklin #81 (WR) (Orlando Jones), a stock boy currently working in a mini mart who can outrun anyone, but cannot catch anything.
Brian Murphy #86 (TE) (David Denman), a tight end who would have been a first round draft pick had he not been born deaf.
Shane Falco #16 (QB) is persuaded by McGinty to come on board to play quarterback again. Falco soon becomes attracted to the team's head cheerleader, Annabelle Farrell (Brooke Langton), who likes him as well, but doesn't want to date him because of her stereotype that all pro athletes are prima donnas.
Annabelle is also looking for replacement cheerleaders and she hires Heather (Sarah Ann Morris) and Dawn (Caroline Keenan), two strippers who try out for the Sentinels' cheerleading squad. They're accepted because the other people trying out are terrible (Annabelle also invites several of their "Co-workers" to the team). While Heather appears the more competent cheerleader, Dawn appears to play the role of the ditzy blonde because she always forgets things and spaces out.
In the Sentinels' first game using replacement players, they trail by four with only a few seconds left to play. McGinty calls a passing play, but Falco gets scared and changes the call to a running play. Cochran gets tackled just before he reaches the end zone and the Sentinels lose. That night, the actual Sentinels players taunt the replacement players at a bar, leading to fight between the two teams. The replacement players get arrested, but are beginning to build team chemistry, which is something they lacked in the first game.
The newfound team chemistry leads to a last second field goal victory in the next game, and then another last second victory the next week, leaving the team needing only one more victory to make the playoffs.
However, O'Neil tells McGinty that Eddie Martel has crossed the picket line and will be re-activated by the Sentinels for the final game of the season. McGinty protests at first, saying that he will use Falco as his quarterback, but O'Neil convinces him that the team cannot afford to have Falco choke with the game on the line, especially since they are playing the best team in the league who has had their entire team cross. A heartbroken McGinty tells Falco that he has been cut in favor of Martel, but Falco accepts the news, saying that it's best for the team since Martel is better than him, to which McGinty says that Falco has heart and Martel does not. Falco stands Annabelle up on a date because of his depression.
In the final game of the season, Martel has trouble connecting with the team due to his prima-donna attitude, and scolds them whenever he makes a mistake. At halftime, the Sentinels trail 17-0, and reporter asks McGinty what they will need to win the game, to which he replies "miles and miles of heart" meant as a message to Falco.
Falco hears him say this and comes to the game during halftime, and the rest of the team kicks Martel out of the locker room. Falco runs onto the field at the start of the half and draws loud and thunderous applause from the fans. He apologizes to Annabelle and kisses her on national TV. Cochran is able to run for a touchdown at the beginning of the half before injuring his leg. The Sentinels then score again to cut the lead to 17-14. With only a few seconds left in the game, McGinty calls for a field goal to tie the score and then go into overtime. But when Nigel 'The Leg' Gruff, the kicker, gets set, he tells Falco that he cannot kick the field goal, because several men in the audience will "take his pub". Falco then takes the snap then runs it all the way for a touchdown, only to have it brought back for a holding call. Falco then goes to the sidelines and tells McGinty that he wants the ball, implying that he has gotten over his fear of choking with the game on the line. Falco throws a pass to tight end Brian Murphy for a touchdown, and the Sentinels win 20-17, advancing to the playoffs, and the Sentinels begin dancing in synchronized formation.
The film ends with a voice-over from McGinty saying that when Falco and the other players left the game that night, there were no endorsement deals or victory parades waiting for them, just a locker waiting to be cleaned out as they all went back to their separate lives... none of them never playing pro-football again when the strike ended. But it didn't matter, because they each got a second chance at fame and glory, which lasts forever.