Star football players often find themselves at a crossroads when their playing career ends. When you've dedicated your life to being the best at the sport, it's hard to know what to do next. Many pursue coaching careers. Others step outside the game and pursue real estate interests, purchase car dealerships, or otherwise capitalize on the friendly public image they've built over the years.
Then there's Eddie George.
The former Tennessee Titan, Ohio State Buckeye and Heisman Trophy winner is in an "outside interests" class all his own. He's done extensive television work, both as a football analyst and guest star. He owns a handful of restaurants. He's the founding principal of a successful landscape architecture firm, a fact I swear I'm not making up!
Oh, and last week, George made his Broadway debut starring as the smooth-talking celebrity lawyer Billy Flynn in the long-running musical Chicago.
It's not as big a stretch as it may seem at first blush - George has been performing lead roles in the Nashville Shakespeare Festival for several years now, and seems genuinely committed to forging a new career as a stage performer. I want to be perfectly clear, as someone who spent the mid-'90s living in Columbus: I will never say anything bad about Eddie George.
I can talk shit on Broadway, however!
If there's one thing commercial theatre producers love, it's taking a genuinely good idea, extracting only the basic framework of that idea without any of the original soul, and cravenly reproducing it in a shameless cash-grab!
A Heisman Trophy winner was successful as a musical lead? It sold a few tickets? Get some agents on the phone!
Why, if you can believe it, even I've got a few ideas myself!
This wildly popular musical, based on the John Waters film of the same name, centers on a chubby teenager whose dream it is to perform on The Candy Collins Show, a local TV dance revue, and becomes an overnight celebrity.
Who've we got for it?
Ahh, the classics.
HEY, YOU KNOW, JOHNNY MANZIEL HAS SOME FREE TIME COMING UP
I should note: I've never seen this show or even listened to the album. I was going to build out more of the idea here, so I looked at the Wikipedia plot summary. This is the first line: "Set in the recent past, the musical opens on a group of suburban youths living unhappily in Jingletown, USA."
I closed the page after that sentence.
This sounds worse than Johnny Manziel quarterbacking your childhood football team. Hypothetically.
WHAT ABOUT DISNEY, THERE'S ALWAYS MONEY IN DISNEY
Hey, good idea! You know, it's been a while since The Little Mermaid closed on Broadway, it's probably due for a revival. Do we know anyone who'd fit in a supporting role?
You're probably not getting that costume back.
AND SONDHEIM. WE GOTTA HAVE SOME SONDHEIM
You ever do a Photoshop, finish it up and think "oh this was a bad idea" but then "well I did spend like three minutes on it, though, there's no turning back now".
Yeah, me either.
QUIT BEATING AROUND THE BUSH, WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO WITH TEBOW
Let's face it, he's the big draw. Personable, charming, TV-ready, huge built-in name recognition and a devoted following of fans who don't care if he's actually good at what he's doing.
Now, I know you're already thinking of some obvious roles for the former Florida Gators star. The Book of Mormon. Godspell. Jesus Christ Superstar. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
They're all good ideas, mind you. What if he wants to stretch himself, though? What if we choose to cast him as the lead in "a comedy-drama rock musical about a young African American's artistic journey of self-discovery in Europe, with strong elements of philosophical existentialism, self-referential humor, and the Künstlerroman."
"But that doesn't make a bit of sense," you say.
HEY I WANT TO SEE SOMETHING THAT MADE A LOT OF HEADLINES IN 2011 BUT FIZZLED OUT WITH A SERIES OF INJURIES AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN LOST INVESTMENTS
Dan Snyder would make a terrific Green Goblin, for what it's worth.
OKAY THESE ARE ALL TERRIBLE IDEAS AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD
Yeah, that's a pretty typical season on Broadway, actually.
Anyways, I've got one more - the 2005 British musical Billy Elliot. It's the heartwarming story, set amidst class and labor strife, of a young man who finds his joy in dancing, but faces fierce opposition from people who think it unbecoming of him. He perseveres, pursues his passion, and wins over everyone's hearts in the end.
I know just the guy.