Sports Television

A College Football Hallmark Christmas Movie: A Christmas Transfer Portal

To listen to a performance of this, tune in on Spotify.

“O Come All Ye Faithful,” blares from a red and green-clad marching band as a raucous crowd nervously murmurs as the tension in the game builds. California Tech and their rivals, Golden State University, have been through a vicious battle, with a shot at the College Football Playoff on the line. Tech is down 4 with time for one last play. We get a close-up of our handsome and rugged quarterback MAX FROST.

PA ANNOUNCER: It all comes down to this. 4th and goal from the six-yard line. Game on the line. I think you need to keep it in Christmas’ hands here–roll him out and let him make a play.

MAX: Alright boys. Let’s make history here!

Cal Tech breaks huddle and runs up to the line of scrimmage. A wide receiver is sent in motion, and MAX takes the snap. 

The play is a mess from the start–blitzing linebackers are barrelling down on him. He’s running out of room. 

Max pump fakes and realizes he has to tuck and run! He changes direction at the last moment, turns upfield. He sees daylight–he dives for the end zone. Only to be greeted by a converging safety, who lays him out a yard short of the goal line. 

The home crowd roars in appreciation as Golden State celebrates the victory. However, the stadium grows silent as they realize that MAX has been injured on the play. Trainers and coaching staff rush in to attend to MAX.

Max is left alone on the field as the camera pans upward toward the sky. Looking down we see Max spread out like a snow angel, with the football next to him, a yard short of the goal line.

We transition to a child laying down in the same position, making snow angels. A title card reads LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA, DECEMBER 24

MARTHA: Hey CINNAMON! Come on inside, the hot chocolate is ready!

CINNAMON, a precocious eight year old girl hops up from the frosty ground and runs inside the festive and decorative snow chalet. Greeting her at the door is her cheerful mother MARTHA. She runs inside where steamy mugs of hot cocoa await them, topped with marshmallows and whipped cream.

As they run into the lodge, excitedly toward the kitchen the camera pans to MAX, unshaven, sitting depressed on the couch, with a sad and vacant look on his face. He is watching ESPN.

TELEVISION: Now let’s talk college football. We’re hearing reports that former star quarterback, MAX FROST has entered the transfer portal. Max won 21 games as a starter at Cal Tech, but had that devastating knee injury on the last play of the Acai Bowl, which cost his team a shot at the playoff. 

Now Josh I don’t know Max Frost A LOT but I know him a little bit. He’s a COMPETITOR. He’s a GAMER. His five touchdown performance against North Cal was the thing of legends. But that’s in the past. He’s older now. He’s gotta rehab. I just don’t see him making a roster.

MARTHA: C’mon now Max, turn that off. Those blowhards don’t know anything anyway. Remember when they picked Pitt to make the playoff last year? Never forget that most mainstream college football media exists to create small sound bites and videoclips meant to go viral because the internet can’t tell the difference between a hate click or a good click and they can take those engagement numbers to advertisers and make tons of money. Cookie?

MAX: But what if I don’t have it anymore, ma? Let’s face it, my career is over. Remember what the doctor said? He said “Max, you’ll never play football again. You hear me? And especially not for a top 10 team in Bill Connelly’s S&P.

MARTHA: Max, it’s 2022. No one trusts doctors.

MAX: I don’t know, it’s just like starting over. Ever since dad died in that tragic surfing accident…

MARTHA: I know sweetheart. We know a lot about starting over. That’s what the Frost family does. Right sweetie?

CINNAMON comes in and gives MAX a group hug.

MAX: I was having the best season of my career, and now it’s ruined because of this stupid injury. I should’ve asked Santa for a new knee.

MARTHA: I’m not sure Santa’s elves are quite cut out for medial collateral ligament reconstruction, Maxie.

MAX: I just really wish there was something that I could do. 

MARTHA: Yes we all WISH that your knee would get better.

MAX: Yes, I WISH that would happen too.

CINNAMON: WISH WISH WISH WISH WISH WISH

The camera pans above the house as a very adorable but menacing twinkle occurs in the dark December night. We pan to MAX, asleep in his bed, when he is awakened by a sudden tap on the window. Max sits up, wondering if it was just his imagination. But the knock came again, louder this time.

MAX hesitantly gets out of bed and makes his way over to the window. As he pulled back the curtains, he sees a shadowy figure standing outside.

MAX: Who’s there?

SANTA: It’s me, Max – Santa Claus

MAX: Santa? Is it really you? 

SANTA: Yes, it’s me! I heard your wish and I’ve come to grant you your Christmas miracle.

Santa reaches into his bag and pulled out a small vial filled with a glowing green liquid.

SANTA: This is a special potion that will heal your knee. Just inject it into the muscley part of your upper quad and you’ll be as good as new!

MAX couldn’t believe his ears. He reached out and took the vial, staring at it in amazement.

MAX: Thank you, Santa. I don’t know how to thank you enough.

SANTA: No need to thank me, Max! Just go out there and give it your best on the field. I also have a feeling that your Christmas miracles aren’t over just yet! Merry Christmas!

And with that, Santa vanished into the night, leaving Max alone with the vial of healing potion.

The next morning, Max woke up feeling rested and rejuvenated. He jumped out of bed and ran to the mirror, expecting to see his injured knee still swollen and sore. But to his surprise, it was completely healed, with no sign of the injury at all. Max couldn’t believe it. He had been granted his Christmas miracle.

MAX: Mom! Cinnamon! It’s a Christmas miracle! My knee is healed!

Suddenly there is a knock at the door. 

MARTHA: Well who can that be? On Christmas morning, no less!

MARTHA opens the door to find COACH NICK SNOW

COACH NICK: (to Martha) Hi, I’m COACH NICK Snow. Coach of the Mississippi Christmas Tide. Is Max here?

MARTHA: (surprised) Yes, he’s right here.

COACH NICK enters the room and approaches Max.

COACH NICK: (to Max) I heard about your injury and I wanted to offer you a spot on our team. We could really use a quarterback like you. Our quarterback decided to opt out in order to train for the NFL because he is a selfish individual that doesn’t capture the true christmas spirit because these gen Z kids don’t understand the meaning of loyalty and the value of hard work and effort without being compensated for their time and labor oh and another thing, no one wants to WORK these days

MAX: Coach Nick Snow, I know you won’t believe this, but let’s just say I had a little help from a certain jolly old elf last night and my knee is completely healed.

COACH NICK: That’s really great to hear. We could really use your help tonight in the championship game against our heated rivals Golden State. 

CINNAMON: But coach, isn’t that against NCAA violations? And what about his year of eligibility being burned from switching teams this late in the season? Doesn’t he have to enroll in classes before he’s officially a member of the team? We are all for amateurism, but what about his NIL deal here? Also how he is going to learn the playbook? The game is tonight! This all seems very fishy.

MAX: It’s a Christmas miracle!

COACH NICK: Well, why don’t we get in my private jet and head down to Mississippi for the game. Of course your entire family can come along too.

CINNAMON: I am pretty sure this is a recruiting violation–does he need to sign an NLI or something first? Is this tampering? Do I need to report this to compliance@Mississippi.edu?

MAX: Wow, a private jet! I’ve never flown on one of these before!

COACH NICK: Well, I have to warn you, there isn’t a lot of room on the jet, so you’re going to have to sit next to my daughter, Melody.

MARTHA: You mean legendary country music singer MELODY HAM? 

COACH NICK: Yes, she’s performing at halftime of the big game tonight, so I needed to pick her up from her studio in LA and take her down to Mississippi. Come on, everyone. Let’s go!

MAX: Great! Let me grab my football!

The scene pans to the entire family boarding Coach Snow’s private jet. As they start to put their luggage up, they notice country music superstar MELODY HAM sitting in the front seat, wearing a cowboy hat and holding an acoustic guitar.

MARTHA: Wow! Melody Ham! It’s so nice to meet you! I love your music. My favorite song of yours has to be “It’s My Truck Now”

MELODY: Howdy! It’s so nice to meet a fan! Although I can tell that not everyone is into my music.

MAX: I just like real music, you know? Like modern Christmas songs covered by pop artists. Gets me real amped up before the game.

MELODY: Oh yeah, you’re the star quarterback that my dad is bringing in. Not sure why he needs a guy like you–sounds like the team’s doing just fine where your team didn’t even make the playoffs this year.

MAX: Well, we lost two games by a combined 4 points, both on the road, including one game in overtime–plus we play in the toughest conference, whereas all of these other teams can just go undefeated all the time, also I think there’s a bias against our team.

MELODY: Okay sure. Tech’s havoc rate was ranked in the bottom 50 and you made a living off of a completely erratic turnover margin–it just wasn’t sustainable, especially considering your previous coach’s lack of clock management and a bend-don’t-break defense being partnered with an up-tempo pass-happy offense.

MAX: Wait, you know about football? But you’re a GIRL!

MELODY: I am the coaches daughter, after all. You know, before the accident, I was the best wide receiver on my powderpuff team. Could’ve gone pro too. 

MAX: The accident?

MELODY: It was a few Christmases ago. I was out with my girlfriends. We all had a little too much Christmas cheer, if you know what I mean. 

MAX: I do not.

MELODY: We were hammered, okay. Anyway, we decided it would be a great idea to cut down a Christmas tree. Well, one of us had taken one too many mushrooms, and when it came time to cut down the tree, well.

Melody lifts up her leg to reveal a titanium leg.

MAX: Wow, I’m so sorry.

MELODY: Don’t be. Best thing that ever happened to me. I was so sad about it that I started writing songs–I needed somewhere to put my energy. My first single, “All These Boots But No Feet,” was inspired by the accident.

MAX: So what you’re saying is that you made the best out of a bad situation.

MELODY: I sure did. 

MAX: You know, my leg was hurt too! Just this morning. And I wished really hard for it to get better. And Santa Claus. He came to my window, and healed my leg. Just like that. Maybe you can make that wish too! Christmas isn’t over just yet!

COACH: This is your captain speaking. We’re about to land in Mississippi just in time for the big football game. Everyone buckle up.

The flight lands at Mississippi INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. Thousands of screaming fans are outside, ready to greet their new quarterback MAX.

MAX: Wow. I can’t believe it. Just last night I was watching the game on TV in California, and now here I am, about to play in the biggest game in the world on Christmas Day!

CINNAMON: Technically it is a mid-tier bowl game because no one really wants to play on Christmas and the Rose Bowl Committee has a monopoly on January 1st games, but I’m really proud of you, bro.

MAX: Thanks Cinnamon. I’m going to try to make you proud. I’m sorry that I haven’t been there for you as an older brother. Ever since dad was lost to the swirling darkness that was the sea, I just haven’t been myself lately. Football has really helped me through it–when I thought I had lost that, I was worried I would never have a chance to make things right.

CINNAMON: You know, you could try going to therapy. There’s a stigma against men asking for help in the wake of tragedy.

MAX: Oops! Gotta go. 

MAX gave Cinnamon a big hug, and kissed his mom goodbye. We pan up to see MAX, COACH, and MELODY get on a bus and drive to the stadium in the snow.

We jump cut to MAX walking into the locker room with COACH. The rest of the team is joking around, listening to music, and getting ready for the game. The music stops and everyone stops and stares at MAX.

COACH: Alright boys. We have big news. I went into the transfer portal this morning and I got ourselves a new quarterback. Max Frost. He’ll be leading the offense out there today. 

The players all start murmuring.

MAX: Hey guys. I know I don’t know a lot about how football is played down here in Mississippi coming from California, but I had a pretty enlightening conversation with someone on the plane ride over here and now I understand the subtle nuances and deep systemic issues that have effected how people think about the sport in certain circles. And it’s Christmas. So let’s give it our best and have fun out there! Christmas on Three! 

We cut to a montage of MAX getting the absolute shit kicked out of him during the game. He throws a football as far as he can down the field, hoping for a miracle catch. However, instead of a receiver, the ball is caught by a seagull, which then flies off the field with the ball still in its beak. The defense tries to run a surprise blitz sending all of their players from one side of the field but no one knows which side the blitz is supposed to come from and so it turns into a regular blitz. The field goal kicker kicks a ball, which lands way short of the endzone and a cornerback runs it 108 yards for a touchdown. They show this one particular play 37 times in a row for some reason. 

MAX: Alright guys. I’ve got a special play for us. It’s called Santa’s Sleigh. I need y’all to trust me. 

Max hands the ball and hands it to his running back, who runs about thirty yards downfield, before he decided to lateral it to OWENS, his wide receiver. After running around for a little bit, OWENS throws the ball all the way back across the field toward MAX, except it is intercepted by a GOLDEN STATE player, who plows over MAX on his way to score a touchdown. They show the scoreboard and it reads 38-0.  

The play cuts to the locker room where everyone is entering dejected.

OWENS: Hey, didn’t this guy just shred his knee the other day? How is he able to play?

MAX: It was a Christmas miracle! Santa came and healed my leg.

OWENS: Oh Santa came and healed your leg? What’s the next thing you’re gonna tell me–the Easter Bunny cured your CTE?

MAX: Hey man, knock it off.

The locker room begins to erupt in a massive fight.

COACH: Guys! Guys! I’ve had enough!

The locker room falls silent.

COACH: We need to come together as a team! It’s Christmas for heck’s sake! Think of all of the little kids who woke up this morning with tickets to our game and had to feign excitement as they prepared to go outside in freezing cold weather to watch two middling teams battle it out in a meaningless bowl game! They could be hanging out, eating mashed potatoes and watching the game from home and be slightly whiskey drunk in front of a nice fire, but instead they’re in the crowd, bundled up, ready to curse at us to run the ball when it’s obvious that our plan to get a quarterback in the transfer portal literally this morning will not work out! 

Suddenly, as the locker room gets silent, the most beautiful angelic voice is heard through the walls. It’s MELODY HAM, performing the half-time concert. She’s singing the Hallmark Original Christmas Song, “Just One More Yard For Christmas,” available on RCA Records at found at Sam Goody or wherever records are sold! 

MAX leads his team out to the field where he watches MELODY perform. Inspired by the pop-country sounds as the snow begins to fall, MAX begins to cry, inspired by the Christmas spirit. He looks COACH and OWENS in the eye.

MAX: Look, I might be a small town boy from California, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know what this game means to you. My father, much like so many fathers, died in a surfing accident and was sent to a watery grave. What I didn’t tell you is that it happened on Christmas morning. I asked for a football that Christmas. We grew up low to middle class–vacations only three or four times a year. My sister and I had to share a bathroom once when I accidentally clogged the toilet. And you know what? Santa came. He gave me that football. The football I brought with me here. 

We cut to an emotional MARTHA and CINNAMON who is somehow in the stands and is somehow hearing all of this–an obvious plothole but we just kept it in, but fuck it, we ball.

MAX: When I entered the transfer portal, it wasn’t just to be able to play–I thought it was a literal portal that was, like, magic or something, instead of a searchable database that is housed in the cloud. But you know what is also in the cloud? Santa Claus. And he healed my leg. And maybe the portal can heal everything that is broken inside of us. I know that we all have a void in our lives that we attempt to fill with sports and sugar cookies. And I think that’s a pretty good thing–I’m not saying that it doesn’t help, but sometimes we need to go a little bit deeper into what it is that actually is causing us harm. 

The team nods in agreement. It’s very emotional. 

COACH: Well what are we waiting for!!

Cut to a montage of MAX and the boys KICKIN’ ASS! Spirals in the air! Dynamic catches! One of those moments in the sports montage where it looks like disaster because there’s a fumble or something, but all of a sudden MAX picks up the ball and flips it to Owens for a touchdown!

OWENS: Hey man, I was wrong about you. 

MAX: We may have our differences, but deep down we’re all the same. Especially on Christmas!

Off-camera Racism is healed. Everyone is celebrating on the sideline, as we pan up to the scoreboard, which shows Mississippi down 38-34 with six seconds to play.

MAX: Alright boys. The play is called “get open”. Someone get open and I’ll throw you the ball. 

MAX turns to see MELODY, running down onto the field. There is no sideline warning penalty.

MELODY: Don’t run that play. Run the play that’s in your heart. 

MAX: The only thing that’s in my heart is you.

MELODY and MAX kiss. Everyone in the huddle is excited for some reason. They cut to the opposing teams fans like they do in sports movies where a Nazi is involved but there’s always the good Nazi and he is applauding with a tear in his eye because he appreciates good sportsmanship and a love story more than fascism. It’s great.

MAX: Soooo, what are you doing New Years’ Eve?

MELODY: Well, before that I have one question for you.

MAX: Anything.

MELODY: Where were you on January 6th 2021?

MAX: Aren’t I supposed to be asking you that question?

MELODY: Well, contrary to popular belief terrorism is a nationwide problem, with the majority of people arrested from Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Mississippi only had one person arrested, whereas California has a larger population density so they had more people at the Capital overall. Did you know more people voted for Donald Trump in California than in Mississippi? You need to fix your own house is what I’m telling you. Anyway, answer the question.

MAX: Well, uh I’m socially liberal, but I’m fiscally conservative. I think my sister is a lesbian. And one of my best friends is Black. 

Max gestures to one of his wide receivers. 

MELODY: Ugh, fine. It’s cuffing season.

They kiss again. 

MELODY: Now win us that football game!

MAX turns back into the huddle.

MAX: One play and we’re gonna make this crowd have a very silent night. Let’s run Santa’s Sleigh again. This time it’ll definitely work. And hey, Owens. Put a little jingle in this one.

They break the huddle. This time, the play works. I’m not quite sure how. Just go with it. MAX dives into the end zone as his teammates swarm him, celebrating.

COACH: We won! We won the game! I can’t believe it!

MAX: I always believed, Coach! You have to believe! That’s the spirit of Christmas! But I couldn’t have done it without your daughter Melody. I’d like to marry her!

COACH: Melody? My daughter? Max, she’s been dead for forty years! She died this very night during a tragic Christmas tree cutting accident.

MAX: But the song available on RCA Records at Sam Goody or wherever records are sold! We all heard it! Also wasn’t there a piece of dialog earlier that inferred that she was going to play the halftime show? What about the guy crying in the crowd? 

COACH: Max, the song was the Mississippi Thousand Money Band playing Green Day’s Basket Case, the most beautiful song in the world. I can see how you could get confused.

Max looks up to the sky to see MELODY and SANTA CLAUS waving at him. I’d like to take a moment to say that this image is confusing because it would imply that Santa Claus is dead, which he is not. He is very much alive. MELODY’S leg is fully healed. A YouTuber will put together clips of this movie to show that the leg was a metaphor and perhaps MELODY was the patron saint of leg injuries and Christmas.

MAX: Nevermind coach. I guess I did take a few shots to the head in the first half, huh?

Coach laughs. Max laughs. Cinnamon laughs. Martha laughs. Everyone laughs.

The Mississippi faithful storm the field. The PA announcer keeps warning that there is going to be a massive fine that has to be paid to the NCAA and that we are a team that doesn’t storm the field because of tradition and whatever. But it’s Christmas, it’s a special occasion, and sometimes you just need to eat that extra piece of pie, appreciate those that you love, kiss a ghost, and celebrate a meaningless bowl game because life is short and you might lose people you love to a surfing accident, or a Christmas tree accident, or some other ailment that isn’t funny at all but truly tragic–and the holidays can be a tough time for so many of us for so many reasons, but sometimes getting folks together for something dumb like singing bad carols or watching a terrible film, or hopping on a Twitter Space to listen to some ridiculous football themed Hallmark movie to make you feel a little bit less alone. Happy Holidays. Happy New Year. Take Care of Each Other. Roll Tide Tonight.

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