Touchdown Jesus


Selected for the 2010 Play Lab at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, Touchdown Jesus explores a big idea – what do you do in life when life is done with you? – through a subject ripped from the headlines.

Quarterback “Downtown” Don McGinn suffers from
football-related brain traumaGregory, who played 10 years of football from pee wee through high school, wrote the first draft of Touchdown Jesus long before the issue recently rose to national prominence in The New York Times, Malcolm Gladwell's essay in The New Yorker, and ongoing congressional hearings.

The main character, D.T., has sacrificed his soul to win a championship.  Once he has achieved this glorious goal, though, he finds his sunset years haunted by shabby jobs shilling his former image while the physical toll taken by the game drives him into a mental ditch.

To cover the constant headaches and sweat-soaked, sleepless nights, D.T. fills his post-career routine with prescription pills and bourbon.  The downward spiral of mental health leads to hallucinations – or are they? – of otherworldly creatures fighting for D.T.’s conflicted soul.

A tragic hero’s journey set in the sporting sphere, Touchdown Jesus probes timely topics in addition to the frightening frequency of brain damage in retired football players.  D.T. deals with the corroding influence of performance enhancing drugs, the fungible nature of pop culture heroism, and the dissonance between the togetherness of a team and the loneliness of an individual.

However, Touchdown Jesus, as the title implies, also investigates timeless spiritual questions: Is self-sacrifice a selfless or self-aggrandizing act? Can Original Sin ever be washed away?  And do Heaven and Hell greet the dead, or do they visit the living as well?

All six actors – five men, one woman – get a workout in this piece, switching characters constantly as D.T.’s dementia spins his future and past around him.

script sample

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illustration by Jim Cooke