Neely Crenshaw was once star quarterback for Messina High School's football team. His playing days ended with a sickening injury. Afterwards his life went nowhere: his marriage foundered and his real estate business drifted. For fifteen years he's been trying to forget his glorious past as sporting hero but hasn't been able to move on. But now the man who moulded him, Coach Eddie Rake, is dying and Neely returns to Messina. Rake has acted as football coach for 34 years at Messina High; his teams have won 13 state championships and been on an 84 game unbeaten streak.
The town idolizes him. Players old and young have returned to pay their respects. Neely congregates with them on the bleachers as they wait for Rake to finally pass away. It is in the many conversations and revelations that follow that Neely can confront what his explosive relationship with Rake really meant to him and, in the moment of loss, find redemption.