ATLANTA — It plays out like a delicious Hollywood movie script, fittingly featuring the Rams, who reside not far from the famous filming lots in Los Angeles.
The plot: The big, bad, dominant lead character unwittingly has a hand in creating the opponent that might dethrone it.
In the case of Super Bowl LIII between the dynastic Patriots and the upstart Rams, an incidental and innocent conversation between two NFL owners — one offering some well-meaning advice to the other — might just have created something that well-meaning owner wants no part of come Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Post has learned that Patriots owner Robert Kraft, in a conversation that took place in the visiting owners’ box at Gillette Stadium in 2016, offered some friendly advice to Rams owner Stan Kroenke before a Dec. 4 Rams game against the Patriots.
A Rams source who was in that box and heard the conversation said Kraft told Kroenke that he needed to hire a new head coach, suggesting that Jeff Fisher was not the coach who was going to lead the Rams to a Super Bowl.
In a curious run of timing, news had leaked out before that Dec. 4, 2016, game in New England — a game the Patriots won, 26-10 — that Fisher had been given a contract extension by the Rams.
Eight days later, one day after a 42-14 Rams loss to the Falcons in Atlanta on Dec. 11, 2016, Fisher was fired by Kroenke. That would eventually lead to the hiring of Sean McVay, the 33-year-old whiz kid whom many have credited for re-energizing the franchise and leading it to Sunday’s ultimate game.
“He was in his box, and I went over and visited,’’ Kraft told The Post, recalling the meeting with Kroenke. “I don’t know if he asked my advice and I don’t recall saying that [Fisher should be replaced] to him. I’d tell you straight if I remembered. I actually liked Fisher.’’
Despite Kraft’s foggy memory of what was said in that visiting owners’ box, this much is clear: Fisher was gone eight days after that conversation between Kraft and Kroenke, and that set the stage for McVay to be hired.
Two seasons later, the Kroenke-McVay Rams are here in Atlanta to try to prevent the Patriots from winning their sixth Super Bowl title.
Rams insiders say that Fisher was on borrowed time by the time Kraft and Kroenke spoke that December day, that the contract extension Fisher was given actually was in place long before the day news of it leaked, and that Kroenke already was thinking about replacing him.
The Post, despite efforts to speak to Kroenke through Rams officials, was unable to reach the owner, who’s the only person who truly knows what kind of influence Kraft’s friendly advice might have had on his decision to fire Fisher eight days later.
Woody Johnson still keeping an eye on the Jets
Johnson turned the Jets over to brother Christopher when he…
What must be understood here is this: Kraft, since the moment he purchased the Patriots in 1994 and right up to the present day as he presides over one of the greatest dynasties in the history of sports, is a giving man.
As an example, he’s done much to help advise Jets owner Woody Johnson despite the fact that Johnson’s team is a division rival of New England’s.
“We compete six hours a year and the rest of the time we’re partners,’’ Kraft said of his Patriots and Johnson’s Jets.
So that 2016 conversation between Kraft and Kroenke was not unusual, Kraft meaning well with some advice to a competitor.
“I want him to succeed,’’ Kraft said of Kroenke. “I’m different than some of the old-time owners, who were all nice to me until we started winning … and then they were not nice. I want the league to do well. If my partners do well, it’s good for me. That’s how I look at it. So in that context, I could have [advised Kroenke to move on from Fisher], but I don’t recall saying it.’’
This all fits into the dynamic and fascinating Hollywood plot twists that take place in the league and help shape history.
Super Bowl odds, pick: Patriots will down Rams, but watch the over/under
The Wildcat concludes his 22nd season in The Post. Including…
Where, for example, would Kraft and his Patriots be had former Jets linebacker Mo Lewis not knocked New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe out of the game — and essentially the season — on Sept. 23, 2001, in Foxborough, Mass.?
The serious injury to his starting quarterback forced Patriots coach Bill Belichick to replace Bledsoe with an unproven, skinny sixth-round draft pick named Tom Brady. The rest, as Hollywood likes to say, is history.
That Lewis hit altered the course of history for the Patriots and the entire NFL, unearthing arguably the greatest quarterback of all time from the depths of the bench and into a spotlight he hasn’t stepped away from some 17 years later.
What long-term implications come out of the Rams’ hiring of McVay and what influence (if any) that Dec. 4, 2016, Kraft conversation with Kroenke had will serve as a compelling subplot not only for Super Bowl LIII on Sunday but possibly for many years after this game.