August 04, 2011
Mike Shanahan has a great idea for a romantic comedy.
The Washington Redskins new punter, Sav Rocca(notes), is stuck in his homeland of Australia waiting for his work visa to be processed. If bureaucratic red tape holds up Rocca's arrival in the United States, Washington's coach is ready.
"He's got a job here in the U.S.," Shanahan said to reporters. "Eventually they'll let him go or, at least, I'm hoping they let him go. If not, I told him to get married to an American and that'll make it easier."
We can see the movie pitch now: Irascible Australian footballer (Russell Crowe) gets suspended from Australian Rules Football league for fighting with his coach. After months of soul searching and hard drinking, he finds himself living on a beach in Perth. At his lowest moment, he stands on top of a cliff punting beer cans into the ocean. An American football coach on vacation happens to see him and signs him on the spot. He's an instant success in the states, winning fans over with his rugged good looks and Aussie accent and helping turn around a team that was not only losing games and the battle of field position, but its love of the sport. Before "the big game" (this would be a generic football league a la "Any Given Sunday" because the NFL wouldn't sign off on the rights) the Australian gets provoked by fans of the opposing team at a restaurant, sees his old temper return and is unjustly deported. Now his only way back into the U.S. is the love of a woman. His coach sets him up with a team secretary (Emma Stone), who flies to Australia to begin the faux courtship. They take to each other like oil and water and the tabloids suspect their romance is a fake. A rival team owner and newspaper mogul (Rupert Murdoch, in the role of a lifetime) is set to expose their ruse and bring down the whole team. This drives a wedge into their relationship even more. And then a funny thing happens on the way to the states.
None of this applies to Rocca, mind you. The 37-year-old is a married man with two young sons and has played in the NFL since 2007.
You can't blame Shanahan for pulling out all the stops, though. Given the current state of the Redskins offense, a punter could be his team's most valuable player.
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