If you've never seen Friday Night Lights, there's nothing to read here. If you have seen one of the greatest TV shows ever made, then you'll know just how important this conversation is. Our Editor-in-Chief refuses to make time for this since, in his words, "my DVR is already so filled with those real housewives shows." However some of us, namely Seth and myself, were willing to ask the hard questions: If you had to cast Friday Night Lights using Chiefs players and staff, who would you use? This conversation got a bit out of hand.
CONNER: Despite Joel Thorman's insistence on ignoring one of television's greatest shows ever produced, Friday Night Lights demands an important conversation from the rest of us at Arrowhead Pride: Namely, if the Chiefs were the Dillon Panthers, who would be the best version of each player on the current Chiefs roster? I tried to think of more important topics and/or get back to "work," but clearly this is worth clearing the schedule. After all, I woke up concerned about this very subject before any other.
In an effort to get the ball rolling, I gotta start with my single favorite player/character from FNL: Brian "Smash" Williams. I truly love a lot of the guys, but none were as charismatic as Smash. In fact, I don't know if I've ever seen someone as charming and off-putting at the same time as the Smash. Fortunately, he could back it up on the field. "He's the Smash, baby!"
Some immaturity + swagger + ability to take over the game offensively. Despite the obvious "uh, he's white" objections that could come, I'm going to say the Chiefs' version of Smash is definitely Travis Kelce. From "the gesture" to Ric Flair end zone moves, I think the Smash would happily exchange wearing his own jersey six days a week for one that reads No. 87 on Chiefs' game days.
What say you, Seth?
KEYSOR: First and foremost, I say that Joel is a bad person, and he should feel bad. I'm not sure a life without Friday Night Lights is really worth living. I'm concerned. I'm angered. I'm chagrined. Quite frankly, I'm not sure why Chris has allowed this to happen. Be a better big brother, Chris!
Anyway... you were so close, but yet so far with Smash Williams. Smash has swagger, yes. He can take over a game, yes. And MAYBE he's a little immature to start out the show. But he's also got a heart of gold beneath all that swagger, talent, and immaturity. He's a "good guy." He also has no quit whatsoever.
Look, I don't know Kelce. I'm sure he's a nice guy. But he hasn't had to overcome the way another player on the Chiefs has. This player has also put in the time to show his heart of gold over the years in a way Kelce simply hasn't had time to do.
Ready for me to drop an obvious bomb on you? Jamaal Charles is Smash Williams. Think about this...
Incredibly talented running back with a heart of gold and dance moves to back up his football moves overcomes adversity (including a devastating leg injury) to become a shining star and leader of men on and off the field? It's written so perfectly for Charles that I can't believe you missed it. I just can't believe it, Matt. You're better than this.
Travis Kelce can't be Smash just yet. He might get there, but he's not. You know who Kelce is, don't you? Let's read off Kelce's traits; tall, handsome baller on offense who plays not just with speed but incredible power. Has a way with women that's legendary. A bad boy who seems to be a really nice guy underneath it all. Believes in football street justice and wildly protective of his quarterback.
I think when they cast the role of Tim Riggins they were seeing into the future and predicting Travis Kelce's arrival. Seriously, picture every scene Riggins is in during the entire show. Now swap in Kelce. It just WORKS. Thoughts?
CONNER: Seth, someone has Cloudy Eyes, Full Hearts. I feel like a second (or fifth, whatever number it might be) viewing might be good for you for Friday Night Lights. There are obvious flaws with any parallels we draw, but the Smash was pumping steroids, demanding the spotlight, and organizing teammates to sit out games (rightfully so against given a racist assistant coach, but still). Jamaal is mid-series Smash. Jamaal is definitely not season-one Smash.
That said, you've drawn some good parallels here and Tim Riggins is also a solid Kelce. I should have laid this out on paper before diving in, but then I'd actually start to feel guilty for the amount of time this exercise has taken up. The one thing I was scratching my head about concerning the great fullback is that Riggins was such a head-down, do-the-work type of player. Kelce is a gimme the spotlight while I do the work type of player.
My nomination? Anthony Sherman. A fine pro but others get the credit. Does the dirty work. Head down for sure. Immensely valuable. I'm just hoping he's secretly drinking way too much and fixing up trucks at 2am.
My question to you: Is Derrick Johnson, the quarterback of the defense, and Josh Mauga the Jason Street and Matt Saracen of the Kansas City Chiefs?
KEYSOR: Sherman is automatically disqualified from being Riggins for lack of vertical ability. In other words, a short guy can't be Riggins. That said, I absolutely would believe Sherman is loaded at 2 in the morning while fixing a truck. I imagine him doing it wearing an American flag tank top and hanging with Mitch Morse and Eric Kush.
Whoa, the hallowed role of Matt Saracen. One of my only problems with Friday Night Lights is the simple fact that you rarely had defensive players central to the plot line. There were a few exceptions, (like Luke playing offense and defense, Tinker, and Garrity's adopted-ish kid that they seemed to want to make central and then totally forgot about), but by and large they focus on the guys on offense.
I like the idea of pairing up players, but I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER taint the legend of Matt Saracen by giving it to Josh Mauga. Sorry Josh, but I know Matt Saracen. Matt Saracen is a TV character I creepily pretend is a friend of mine. And you are no Matt Saracen. We'll come back to my favorite FNL character later.
I can see DJ as Street. An all-universe player tragically cut down in the very first game of the season. A captain the team doesn't believe it can possibly replace. A guy so driven that not even a horrific injury (not that paralyzed legs and an Achilles tear are on the same level, but you gotta bear with me here) can keep him down. ALSO, you've got the "hero-to-zero-to-hero-again" plot lines. Street hit rock bottom when he lost his girl to his best friend, couldn't make the Olympics, and then managed to miraculously impregnate a woman he barely knew.
But it wasn't enough to keep him back, as he roared into the role of agent and made a triumphant return to not being pathetic. Now, he didn't return to the field the way DJ is about to, but you can see the similarities. DJ was a high draft pick lauded as a savior who then became derided as an inconsistent underachiever, only to rise from the ashes and become one of the best ILB's in the game. Hero-to-zero-to-hero plot line. Write that down. It's only the plot of, like, 90% of movies.
I'll get to Matt Saracen, but first (to build the suspense that really shouldn't exist on a topic like this), I need help. I can't for the life of me find a Buddy Garrity. It's a moral failure on my part, I know. Who do you have for him? Also, by the way, John Elway is Julie. Because Julie is the worst. I hate Julie with a passion that burns deep. The only way I could have hated her more is if she put on a Broncos jersey and started throwing touchdowns against the Chiefs. Which, naturally, is why only John Elway can be Julie. Because he too is the worst.
Agree? and who's your Buddy?
CONNER: This conversation is not turning out as planned.
How can two people watch the same show and love it and yet come away with completely different opinions on everything? Before I fire my Buddy Garrity shotgun (which has a Yosemite Sam inscribed on the side), as you asked, let me respond with quick bullet points to what you mentioned:
• You are right that Tim Riggins ≠ short guy. Tim Riggins is pure Hollywood. Tall, hunky, perfect in every way. Hell, I'll vouch for him for a Golden Globe for his terrific turn in Battleship (completely underrated movie, by the way). (Totally serious.)
(editor's note; Seth somehow did not spend the rest of the article mocking Matt for calling Battleship an underrated movie. That concerns me)
• Do you think that Ricky Stanzi comes back to hang out with Mitch Morse, Eric Kush and Anthony Sherman in the offseason? Do they wish there was still a USFL they could all play in, just because it has US in it? Do they all stare down LDT for his French-Canadianness?
• Julie Taylor. Be still my heart. She makes the same face, is bratty, is a horrible person through and through and yet I'd still marry her at any day and time of her choosing. I used the feel the same about Tammy Taylor until my real-life wife got hooked on the worst show ever made, Nashville. Now I wish Coach Taylor was single.
Not sure why you brought up Saracen only to shift so quickly to Buddy Garrity. You set up the tee and then said, 'Take a swing on another subject.' But given how I don't understand most of your Friday Night Lights opinions, I'll just take the cue sans understanding.
Brad Childress is Buddy Garrity. Buddy Garrity is Brad Childress. There's no way around it. I know he looks like Major Dad on the outside (Gerald McRaney), but the spirit of Buddy Garrity is alive and well in the Chiefs' mystery coach. Let's break this down.
1. I'm pretty sure Childress uses the phrase "you bet your ass" at least 10x daily.
2. Childress' official title includes the words "special projects." That's Garrity's world. He's a car salesman who has all kinds of special projects: Voodoo Tatum, coaching pressure, general behind-the-scenes puppetry. He's got Buddy Garrity's automobiles, Buddy's Bar, a radio show. He does a bit of everything and you also wonder what else he's up to. Same with Childress.
3. As a former head coach, there's always that lingering question of whether or not he secretly wishes for Andy Reid's job. He works for the Chiefs but would he also try to cozy up to the front office and pray for rain? I wouldn't put it past him. Same with Buddy. Is he for Coach Taylor or not? Do I like this guy or not?
There you have it. He's important, for some reason. He's busy, with something. He's for us, or is he? Brad "Buddy Garrity" Childress.
So, you served up Saracen. I'd love for you to swing at your own tee.
KEYSOR: Man, I started this excited to talk Friday Night Lights. Now I'm feeling deep concern as to whether Andy Reid needs to watch his back. I hope he's smart enough to decline when Childress invites him for a nice fishing trip with a few well-dressed associates. I'm absolutely with you on Garrity and Childress.
Also, I hadn't thought about potential tension between LDT and the 'Murica contingent in the locker room. I assume they leave him alone since he's a doctor. You don't want to upset a doctor on the off chance you get a little virus during camp. "Sure, Eric, take this. You'll feel much better... (whispers) forever..."
Crap, I didn't realize how much potential drama there was at Chiefs camp. Mafia hits and poisonings. Who knew?
Anyway, Matt Saracen. Look, you can't just hand the hallowed role of Matt Saracen to anyone. Matt Saracen is all heart. Matt Saracen has always got one more. Matt Saracen is everything football is supposed to be. The man essentially worked full time, went to school, starred as QB despite major physical limitations, took care of his Grandma, and landed his dream girl (why Julie, Matt? WHY? You should've gone after Lila, you fool!). He also managed to procure a father-son relationship with the greatest human in history AND had a killer for a best friend. What a legend.
Like the rest of the guys, let's go through the list for Saracen and then match him up.
Quarterback with some limitations. A guy who makes up for a lack of arm strength with sheer guts. A guy no one wanted as their quarterback until they replaced him with a laser-rocket-arm airhead who doesn't know how to play football. A guy who everyone thought was done and then rose from the ashes. A guy who does a lot of his damage with his legs. A guy who is whip smart. And most importantly, a wildly controversial football player that some people will NEVER believe can put a team on his shoulders.
C'mon, you know who Matt Saracen is. Do I really need to say it? Can't you just picture Andy Reid walking up to a bruised and battered Alex Smith during the Bills game last year before that fantastic drive to put the game out of reach? Reid looking at Smith, who'd been beaten up all day by a pass rush that seemed sent back from time to kill him? Reid saying "Alex, you got one more in you?" Smith staring back through sweat and blood, saying "I've always got one more."
Can't you just SEE it? Crap, can't you FEEL it? On an unrelated note, I have an unhealthy obsession with Matt Saracen.
CONNER: I need you to imagine one scenario:
Matt Saracen, starting NFL quarterback, brings his team to the line of scrimmage in a close game. The defensive line shifts. A safety crawls forward showing potential blitz. The seconds are counting down. Saracen then yells needed protections to his team ... all in his Texan whisper-drawl?
Nope. I just can't do it. I love Saracen. Clearly not as much as you, but I like him. I like him as the relatable high-schooler compared to the habits/behavior of everyone else on the show. I like him as devoted boyfriend. I like him when he stands up to his father and cares for his grandmother. I like his friendship with Landry. So obviously you root for the guy. You root for him like Tyler Bray, like Tyler Thigpen, like Brodie Croyle. But the starter?
You had me with your argument. You really did. "Seth is right," I thought. Until I pictured that whisper-drawl. I can't even move forward until you address the whisper-drawl.
KEYSOR: YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH ABOUT MATT SARACEN RIGHT NOW YOU FILTHY COMMUNIST I'M GOING TO TAKE MY LAPTOP AND CHUCK IT AT YOUR HOUSE WHILE I SET YOUR CAR ON FIRE AND
OK, OK... OK. We're OK. It's gonna be all right. Sorry about that, Matt. That was a little uncalled for. That's my bad.
My simple rebuttal is that Matt Saracen, whisper-drawl and all, came through in the clutch more times than I can count (OK, I could count the number. But that would make my argument less powerful, so therefore I will not count them). You can't question his status as a guy who has "it." What is "it?" I don't know, but he's got it. Maybe his whisper carries really far because of "it?" Did you ever think about that, Matt? Of course you didn't.
We'd better move on before I start threatening you again. I'm gonna rapid-fire you a couple.
Tinker is Jeff Allen (no one thinks he can do it, he doesn't look like he can do it, but he won't stop doing it)
Luke is Eric Berry (the pinnacle example of hard work and guts combined with talent, also a guy who can play both offense and defense. You and I both know Berry would be a killer running back)
Vince is... well, nobody. There IS no real-life Vince Howard. He's the best athlete on the field, works harder than anyone, has incredible heart, throws the ball accurately, possesses a cannon arm, AND understands the playbook intimately. Basically, if Vince Howard existed in real life he'd currently be throwing for 6000 yards while rushing for 2000 yards in a season. Vince is incredible.
Any issues with any of those?
CONNER: Dude, I can respect the Saracen love, so I'm backing down. He does have that "it" factor, and more importantly, he's a lovable boy scout. I'd love to be Matt Saracen, if only to be so close to Julie Taylor.
Solid comps all around, by the way. Eric Berry as running back is one of the sweetest things we'll never see on the field. Tinker made me laugh out loud, and Vince. Man I loved that character.
Some quick thoughts from me to wrap this baby up:
J.D. McCoy - Has to be Chase Daniel, right? McCoy's dad was super-annoying trying to persuade Coach Taylor to play him, and I feel the same way about anyone who's overly passionate against Alex Smith and/or overjoyed at Chase's preseason/late-season performances. A talented quarterback, but he's never playing over Saracen, er, Smith.
Gracie Bell - Peyton Manning. A crybaby (literal) who I wish was not involved in any plotline whatsoever.
Now, my final question to you, is who on the Chiefs is Landry? I can't figure this one.
KEYSOR: The Chase Daniel comparison (and his rather enthusiastic group of fans) made me chortle.
You can't talk about Landry without acknowledging the fact that after he left Texas he went to New Mexico and became a soulless, expressionless, child-killing, helpless-woman-killing, prisoner-keeping enforcer for a group of white power nutcases in aid of a meth ring. I mean... that's pretty bad.
So the question is what guy on the Chiefs could pull off both the charming humor of Landry and the dead-eyed ruthlessness of Todd? Frankly, no one. So let's just disregard my last couple sentences and start over.
Landry is like a jokey Rudy. He's all heart and very little talent, relegated exclusively to special teams constantly. I'm trying to think of a guy who fits the bill as a Chief. I guess for right now I'd roll with Junior Hemingway, an exceptional special teams guy who has nothing to offer the offense. Sorry Junior, but keep in mind that everyone loved Landry... until Breaking Bad came out and we all started feeling awkward about loving him.
All right, last one: Coach Eric Taylor. Who can fill those massive shoes? I'm going with literally no one. No one on earth fills those shoes, and it's borderline heresy to pretend they do.
In fact, let's let Coach Taylor close this article out before you compare him to, like Doug Pederson and make me want to burn things again. I'm going to now watch this compilation speech for the 155th time then run through all the walls. Friday Night Lights forever. Coach Taylor forever. Texas forever.