Week Under Review: Comparing the NFL to the cast of Hamilton
Welcome to “Week Under Review” where we usually opine on burning topics, introduce new ideas and interview fascinating subjects. This week, we shake things up in honor of America’s birthday …
Once you shuffle past criminals, social media trolls, helicopter parents and people who only talk about themselves during social situations, in comes the next tier of annoying humans: those lucky enough to have seen Hamilton with the original cast who won’t shut up about it. That’s where I enter the picture.
I saw Hamilton exactly 22 days ago. Since then, I have spent the last 21 days obsessively checking resale ticket prices simply out of curiosity, watching old clips of the cast performing at the White House, the Grammys and on the street, while simultaneously listening to the soundtrack nonstop as if I’m “running out of time.”
My Hamilton infatuation has become so pronounced that I have been poring over interviews with the cast just to see if any of them happen to be particularly ardent NFL fans, a foray to being featured in this column. Turns out my dream of the show’s genius creator, lyricist and Alexander Hamilton portrayer Lin-Manuel Miranda freestyling about the Jets quarterback situation is likely just that (though he does seem to love tennis). Or that proud Oakland native Daveed Diggs, who brilliantly plays Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, going deep on the Raiders is unlikely to happen given that Diggs calls himself a fan of the Raiders and 49ers. (Gotta pick one, Prez.)
So instead of trying to bring Hamilton to the NFL, how about bringing the NFL to Hamilton? Several original cast members are leaving next week, and while most replacements are lined up (though curiously not Tony award winner Leslie Odom Jr.’s) things may become unwieldy at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in the post-Miranda era. Have no fear because here’s a replacement cast of NFL figures perfectly suited to play each of Hamilton’s key characters because they share strikingly attributes to that cast in playing to their own house.
Note: These castings are based off Miranda’s adaptation of Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, not the book itself, which at 832 pages is inherently richer in detail and character development.
Roger Goodell as King George III
And no don’t change the subject. Cuz you’re my favorite subject. My sweet, submissive subject. My loyal, royal subject. Forever and ever and ever and ever. – King George III (You’ll Be Back)
Too easy. Goodell is already a monarch and brutalized NFL players with little financial guarantee or concerns for their health. His disciplinary system is the epitome of “taxation without representation.” The only question is whether the players will stand up from their freedom when the CBA is up for renewal in 2021. It might behoove them to see Hamilton before then.
Tom Brady as Alexander Hamilton
I’m young, scrappy and hungry and I’m not throwing away my shot! – Hamilton (My Shot)
There was a well-documented time in Brady’s career when he could stand in a room of other quarterbacks like storied Drew Henson or Drew Bledsoe and be asked, “Who are you?” But like Hamilton, who came to the United States with plenty of reasons not to morph into a legend, Tommy Brady, disregarded at the combine and not drafted until the sixth round by the New England Patriots, would create his own destiny through an intense work ethic and sheer force of will.
Brady has spearheaded the Patriots 15-year dynasty with his “practical, tactical brilliance” but like Hamilton, it has been the extra credit that has catapulted him to legendary status. Hamilton read and wrote like he was “running out of time.” Brady studies film and eats prunes like he’s running out of time. Just like Hamilton, one can argue Brady “changed the game” by perfecting the inside passing attack with a precision that no other quarterback can match.
In an interesting twist, Hamilton spurned his pregnant wife Eliza for Eliza’s sister, who was much more his intellectual equal. Not that Brady can relate. Hamilton also tarnished his otherwise stellar legacy by being caught “cheating” (more on this below).
Bill Belichick as George Washington
Just like Washington’s Continental army lost the New York campaign before it ultimately won the Revolutionary War, Belichick took a character-building career tumble that could have forever derailed his destiny. Fired by then-owner Art Modell of the Cleveland Browns in 1996, Belichick was given a second chance in New England. While he possessed the shrewd, astute and affectingly cold leadership traits of Washington, it wasn’t until he found his “right-hand man” in Brady that he became the greatest head coach in NFL history—the same effect Hamilton had on Washington.
As it stands, given the option, you’re starting any new franchise with Belichick as the leader. Of course, Belichick’s ingenuity as a football general is also colored by his penchant for toeing the line on rules of engagement ever so closely, and perhaps closing them on occasion. How does that compare with America’s most beloved founding father? Turns out, quite well. According to the official Washington historical website, mountvernon.org, “George Washington quickly recognized the need for effective intelligence gathering efforts and developed a number of spy rings and secret agents to gather information behind enemy lines.” Sound familiar?
Rob Gronkowski as Marquis de Lafayette
I go to France for more funds. I come back with more guns. And ships. And now the balance shifts. – Lafayette (Guns and Ships)
While not exactly a French aristocrat sipping Bordeaux, Gronkowski, like de Lafayette, is a beloved outlier. De Lafayette spearheaded France’s help in battling the British, just the secret weapon Washington, Hamilton and company needed to win the war. Similarly, Gronk has emerged as Brady’s ultimate game-changer, his presence “constantly confusing and confounding” opposing secondaries. Gronk is also a confident, fun, charismatic soul who helps the Patriots win with guns (protruding from his upper arms) and ships (cruise ships, that is.) As Gronk specializes in sheer bewilderment, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if fancy French wine is secretly in his partying repertoire.
Andrew Luck as Thomas Jefferson
‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ We fought for these ideals, we shouldn’t settle for less. These are wise words, enterprising men quote ’em. Don’t act surprised, you guys, ’cause I wrote ’em. – Jefferson (Cabinet Battle #1)
Jefferson, the former U.S. ambassador to France, was a lifelong Francophile. Oliver Luck, former head of NFL Europe, was once the U.S. ambassador of American football across the Atlantic. Therefore, his son, Andrew, who spent a chunk of his childhood in London, has always had a thing for tea and crumpets. After a fancy childhood of privilege, the younger Luck oozes with worldliness far superior of his peers.
Conveniently, SB Nation also recently uncovered that Luck actually time traveled here straight from another crucial American war. Jefferson also emerged in Act 2 of the the musical, just as Luck entered the NFL stage during the second half of Brady’s career.
But the real analogy comes when you consider that Jefferson, Hamilton’s greatest political adversary—they shared Washington’s cabinet but their political philosophies were polar opposite—received copies of Hamilton’s extramarital love letters to Maria Reynolds and opted to pass them along to a well-known gossip publisher, staining the Secretary of the Treasury’s career. Much like Luck’s Colts, after receiving a tip from the Baltimore Ravens’ equipment manager, Sean Sullivan, ratted out Brady for under-inflated footballs, ensuring that Deflategate will forever taint a Hall of Fame career.
Peyton Manning as Aaron Burr
The world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me – Burr (The World Was Wide Enough)
While Jefferson was Hamilton’s greatest political adversary, Hamilton’s unquestionable true rival was Aaron Burr, the antagonist of the musical. For Brady, that can only mean Peyton Manning. While Manning did not actually kill Brady, his Broncos did vanquish the Patriots last year in the AFC Championship after Brady “threw away his shot” to secure a two-point conversion and tie the game at the end of regulation.
Luckily for the NFL, we have long passed a time when dueling was an acceptable means of resolving disputes, so these two gunslingers have been able to confine their rivalry to the football field. But perhaps a campaign duel awaits as these two are prime candidates to run for political office in the future.
Matt Walsh and Matt Estrella sharing the role of Hercules Mulligan
Walsh and Estrella’s sewing skills are unknown, but like Mulligan they are best known as spies. Once doubling as loyalist Patriots video department assistants, these two helped videotape the signals from opposing coaches in 40 games from 2000 to ’07 for their general, Belichick.
In 2007, King George (er, Goodell) fined the Patriots $750,000 and stripped them of a first-round draft pick. But given that the Patriots have won four Super Bowls since the spying began, it’s pretty evident who’s won this war.
Happy Fourth of July, and thanks to Washington, Hamilton and the whole gang for our freedom—and inspiring an additive piece of creative genius. Honor them by staying far away from fireworks. Take it from someone who knows.