Ron “Cat” Catlan once led the New Orleans Saints to a championship (something the real-life Saints wouldn’t accomplish until Super Bowl XLIV in the 2009 NFL season). After fifteen years in pro football, he tries to compensate for his failing skills with booze and an extramarital affair. (“You’re not even worth the price of a ticket anymore”, a fan yells at him after Cat refuses her an autograph.)
Friend and teammate Richie Fowler (Bruce Dern) offers Cat a job with his auto-leasing company, and a management position in the computer industry is also on the table, but Catlan hesitates, insisting he can still lead the squad to future glory. The associate with the computer firm warns him not to put off making a decision: “There are a lot of kids coming out of college, Cat, and they’re smart kids. A year from now, I might not be able to offer you a job driving the company truck.”
Things are no better at home for Catlan: his long-suffering wife, Julie (Jessica Walter), threatens to leave him after too many booze-fueled outrages and late nights with other women. She begins to drift away into her own life, leading Cat to an abortive affair with Ann (Diana Muldaur).
Cat finally begs Julie to stay, saying everything will be alright after he leads the Saints to another title. In the end, though, Catlan is crushed in a violent sack by a Dallas Cowboys player, seemingly ending his football career. Julie can be seen leaving the stadium, apparently unconcerned with her husband’s condition. Catlan looks likes he takes his last breath and dies on the field; the movie ends and the viewer is left to decide what happened to him.