Fourth Annual RSP Writers Project: The Team to Defend the Planet

Who would you pick to defend the planet in a science fiction  football game? Photo by Frankula.

Who would you pick to defend the planet in a science fiction football game? Photo by Frankula.

An alien race makes itself known to the planet and its intention is to take over the world. Being a sporting culture themselves, they’ll give the U.S. one chance to represent and save the world on a football field. Which players–past or present–would you pick to defend the planet? This is our writers’ missions and you’ll have the final say. 

What is the RSP Writers Project (RSPWP)?

The RSP Writers Project is a goodwill community effort among writers that is designed to spur conversation about the game. Each year there’s a different theme. The first RSPWP was a team-building project with a salary cap. You can still download the spreadsheet from the link and try it yourself. RSPWP2 was an online start-up draft held on Twitter.

RSPWP3 took a departure from team-building and focused on team management. With the assistance of an NFL employee with experience in a variety of player-personnel roles and knowledge of multiple teams, I drafted scenarios based on actual events that NFL leadership had to handleWriters were given two scenarios to write about as if they were the general manager.

Give me more details for RSPWP4 . . .

It’s straight out of a comic book or a summer blockbuster: An alien race several light years from our planet makes a spectacular, coordinated landing at every major military base, branch of government, and media outlet around the world.  Dressed in black suits and boots that look a lot like S.W.A.T. gear, the aliens have similarities to the human race.

They have one head, a pair of eyes, a pair of ears, one nose, one mouth, two arms, two legs, two hands, and 10 fingers and toes. They appear to have similar ranges of height and weight has humans. Their skin is transparent and where clothing doesn’t cover their body, one can see their muscle fibers, circulatory system, nervous system, and bones. Based on mood and activity, one can see their body parts glow with a variety of bright colors. Their eyes are red, orange, yellow, or violet.

Ships the size of states hover above us, blocking out the sun. Each ship sends down some beam of light that has interrupted everyone’s daily lives, forcing us to wake up, shut up, sit down, and feel eerily calm and relaxed as our planet collectively listens to a communication signal that hijacks every television, video monitor, telephone, computer, and listening device on the planet,  and broadcasts in every language:

We have traveled from a distant galaxy. Our planet is similar to yours, but we are a much older species than you. Our ships cover every portion of your planet. At any moment we could extinguish life on earth. We have already proven this to your world’s leaders and military. The fact that none of you can move a muscle and feel strangely calm despite what we are doing should give you some idea of our power to take this planet.

Our intention is to take over your planet, enslave you, and mine your resources for our needs. However, our species, which is far older than yours, admires your qualities of creativity, resilience, intensity, and control and adaptability of emotion. At the same stage of our common evolutionary history, your species has developed the same technology and wisdom at a faster rate than us. These are qualities about you that we wish to study.

Despite our intentions, we ascribe to a certain code of conduct that your cultures don’t yet have a perfect word to describe. The closest word is “fairness.” We realize enslavement is not inherently fair, but it is a word in your world culture that has the closest meaning to our intent–although our use will be far more physically and psychologically “humane.”

Regardless of how odd this sounds to your people, it is important to us that you have a fair chance to defend your planet.

One thing that our two species have in common is a love of sport. As inconceivable as this might be for you to grasp at the moment, Earth is not the only planet where football evolved. We’re not referring to the game that most of your world knows it by–the one played with the round ball–but the United States’ variant of football. Based on our similarities of height, weight, speed, quickness, leaping ability, agility, balance, stamina, strength, and intelligence, we have determined that this game is the fairest contest we can offer.

We are giving the U.S. the opportunity to defend your planet by playing us in a game of football. You will have 90 days to select a team of players from any era. We have the technology to temporarily bring these individuals back to life and restore them to their physical, mental, and emotional prime. You will field a team, a coaching staff, and pick the era of rules you wish to use for the game.

Win the game and we will allow your planet to continue its sovereign existence. Lose and we take control.

The RSP Writers Project will undertake this mission to present teams to you that include a head coach, coordinators, a starting offense, a starting defense, and key special teams performers. The writers will give an overview of the team and each unit. Once each writer has presented his team, you the reader will get to vote on the players and coaches to defend the planet. Injuries as possible in this game, so we’ll use these votes to determine backups, too.

The writer that has the most personnel make the readers team wins $300, which, considering what might happen to the planet, I suggest he spends foolishly. If there’s a tie, I’ll hold a playoff by having the readers vote on the overall quality of your teams.

When will these post?

Late June through August.

Who is participating in RSPWP4?

  • Bob Harris, Football Diehards
  • Brandon Thorn, Football Educator and CBS Sports
  • Adam Harstad, Footballguys
  • Mark Schofield, Inside the Pylon
  • Bryan Frye, The GrideFe
  • Eric Stoner, Rookie Scouting Portfolio
  • Yours Truly

If you’ve been invited in the past and either missed the email or didn’t receive an invite, feel free to contact me and I’ll consider you for this year’s project. My intent was to make this a smaller gathering, but we do have room for a few more if this subject sparks your interest.

If you’ve never participated in a RSPWP but you’re interested in doing so, feel free to email me at with a subject heading, “RSPWP5” (yes, “5” as in next year) and link to a sample of your work.

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