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Casting The Team
A superstar player needs a superstar entourage, so director Andy Fickman next set out to find a roster of actors with a unique combination of athleticism and acting ability to play Joe Kingman's teammates and coach. The result was a cast of former pro football players and actors with football experience who were truly ready to play.

Key among the Rebels team members is Sanders, the team's veteran wide receiver, who wants Joe Kingman to be more of a team player. To play the role, the filmmakers chose Morris Chestnut, who first came to be recognized by moviegoers in John Singleton's "Boyz N The Hood” as a high school running back trying to use his football skills to escape his violent South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. More recently, Chestnut joined with Joaquin Phoenix in the ensemble cast of the firefighting drama "Ladder 49.”

Chestnut first had to pass an unofficial audition for football coordinator Mark Ellis to make sure he had the hands for making the movie's crucial catch—but with that proven, he threw himself into the role. "I'm a huge football fan and I've never had the opportunity to really do a football movie,” he says. "When I read the script, I also thought, ‘Here's a really fun movie for families.'”

As for his character, Chestnut says: "Sanders is always taking the high road, even at the expense of some of the team laughing at him. But I think he's a guy who's been around and sees the big picture. He witnesses Joe changing and stepping into this grey area where, for the first time, he is in over his head.”

A former NFL player for the New England Patriots, Brian White next joined the cast as the team's running back, Webber. The son of Boston Celtics' great JoJo White, Brian was also a professional lacrosse player for the Boston Blazers before becoming an actor, most recently seen in "Stomp the Yard” and "The Family Stone.” White appreciated the authenticity that comes along with the story's locker room world and the joking amongst the players. "I'm familiar with the world that this movie deals with, with the trials and tribulations of being a professional athlete,” he says, "and I think this story pretty accurately portrays what athletes have to go through to really find themselves. Madison, in her role, reminds us all that we're just big kids at heart and that the key to happiness is to never lose that.”

Meanwhile, Jamal Duff, a former NFL lineman with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, took on the role of the Rebels' dead-serious offensive lineman, Monroe. They don't come any bigger and tougher than Monroe, but when it comes to little Peyton, he suddenly turns into a sweet and gentle giant.

Says Duff of his character: "Monroe is sort of the silent warrior, but when Monroe speaks, people listen!” Yet when Peyton makes her entrance into the life of the team, Duff notes that this tiny child changes Monroe's world in a big way. "There comes a moment for Monroe when he is suddenly totally affected by Peyton, when he sees the magic in her soul and they just connect—and it really opens up a whole new side of him. She reminds him that it's what is in your heart that you really need to win,” says Duff. As for working with Madison Pettis, he adds: "She's a pleasure to be around and even more fun to see in action!”

Rounding out the featured players on the team is Hayes MacArthur, himself a recordholding former quarterback for Bowdoin College and player with the semi-pro football team the L.A. Gunslingers, in the role of the Rebels' tight end, Cooper. MacArthur notes that, along with the comedy and story of family, "There's a real guy element to this story, which captures the way guys are together on teams and how they rally behind their leader.”

Finally, Gordon Clapp, an Emmy Award® winner for his role on the long-running ser

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