Raheel Ramzanali: 4 other present day sports movie sequels we need

The success of Cobra Kai should spur more sequels.

YouTube Red hit it out of the park with the critically acclaimed series Cobra Kai. The series follows present day Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence and how they’re dealing with the fallout of the legendary Crane Kick. I highly recommend you watch it not only for the nostalgia, but because it’s a really good show on an emotional and storyline level. While I was watching it this weekend, I started to wonder about some of my favorite sports movies growing up and how the characters would be doing in 2018. So, here are four movies I want to see done in Cobra Kai style with a sequel:

  1. Mighty Ducks - Emilio Estevez is a young 55 right now and has to be in this present day sequel as the commissioner of a local hockey league that is struggling to find teams because kids are more interested in playing Fortnite and not an actual sport.  It’s an age old, “kids are too lazy, but we can’t let the sport die” plot. In a moment of inspiration, Gordon Bombay creates a Facebook account despite all the threat of losing his data and friends the entire roster from the first movie. In a tragic turn of events, Coach Bombay finds out that his star Charlie Conway passed away in a freak scuba diving accident while off the coast of Mexico during a summer trip. Charlie left behind a 12-year-old son that lost all hope in mankind, but when Coach Bombay messages him, he finds new hope. Coach Bombay ends up mentoring the kid, they have the typical fight because Coach wants Charlie Jr. to be more like his dad, fast forward a few minutes and they end up becoming friends again when Coach Bombay gives Charlie Jr. his dad’s hockey stick. The kid ends up recruiting a bunch of kids to the hockey league and they save it. The end.

  2. The 6th Man - I watched this Marlon Wayans classic at least once a month growing up. A&K ALL THE WAY! Few movies capture the heartache and love of brotherhood like The 6th Man did for me. However, the sequel isn’t as fun and loving as the original. After the Huskies won the national title, we find out that Kenny Tyler was actually diagnosed with schizophrenia when he tried to tell everyone about seeing his brother Antoine. Kenny spent the next 20 years trying to convince everybody that he really did see Antoine, but nobody believed him. In fact, he was put into a mental hospital and on a heavy dose of medicines. There’s actually no silver lining to this movie. It’s a dark and uncomfortable look at the dependency of medicinal solutions to mental problems in our country. Think Requiem for a Dream meets The 6th Man.

  3. Above The Rim - I always considered this movie to be the Allen Iverson story so it’s only right that Kyle Watson went on to lead the 76ers to the NBA Finals with a D-league team. Kyle is now 42-years-old and trying to find a new purpose in his life. He tried playing in a 3-on-3 league, but was always late to show up and sometimes didn’t show up to the games. In a moment of self-realization, Kyle decides he needs to mentor the youth. Kyle still has a nice relationship with Shep so he creates an AAU team featuring the best New York City ballers. This is where the movie picks up because Kyle and Shep find out about the dirty underbelly of the AAU circuit. They go on a quest of mentoring young kids and cleaning up the summer basketball circuit that once made them happy to play the sport they love so much. The final scene is them cutting the ribbon on the brand new Birdie and Buggalo Community Center.

  4. Rookie of the Year - Henry Rowengartner experienced success at such an early age that he, like many child stars, had to deal with the consequences of said fame. Unfortunately, that “dealing with” came at the cost of a crippling addiction to drugs. One night Henry was so wasted that he had a dream of being in a table receiving shots from a faceless doctor. The dream felt too real. It wasn’t a dream, it was his life. We keep seeing flashbacks to this dream and piece-by-piece we find out that his rocket arm wasn’t because of some lame thing like his tendons being “a little too tight” after the cast came off - it was because he was the subject of some illegal government testing on kids. With every clue he gets closer to finding out who did this to him and eventually the faceless man has a face: It was his mom’s boyfriend Jack Bradfield. Henry eventually hits his mom’s ex-bf with a 100-mph fastball and gets a congressional medal for shedding light on these illegal experiments.

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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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