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The Washington Sentinels are one of the strongest teams in pro football, that is until contract negotiations break down and the Sentinels go on strike. Determined to play the team's schedule, owner Edward O'Neil (Jack Warden) recruits a ragtag band of scab players, to be headed up and whipped into shape by the retired veteran coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman). At the top of the recruitment list is quarterback Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), a promising athlete until a catastrophic defeat in the Sugar Bowl dashed his confidence. Joining Falco on the team are Clifford Franklin (Orlando Jones), a receiver who can't catch the ball; Nigel Gruff (Rhys Ifans), a chain-smoking Welsh soccer player; Bateman (Jon Favreau), a former cop with anger management problems; Fumiko (Ace Yonamine), a sumo wrestler new to football; and Wilkinson (Michael Jace), a convict on parole to the Sentinels.