The movie Draft Day, as a concept, is enticing enough. The plot follows the roller coaster of the day endured by the protagonist, Cleveland Browns GM Sonny Weaver Jr., played by Kevin Costner.
Not only does Sonny find out he’s about to become a dad, thanks to his secret romance with the team’s salary capologist, played by Jennifer Garner; he has to deal with an oblivious owner who threatens his dismissal unless he makes a big splash at the draft; a recalcitrant head coach who sets a fire in his office when he discovers he wasn’t included in the discussion of the team’s massive trade; and a temperamental quarterback who trashes his office when he suspects the trade will likely bring his replacement. To top it off, Weaver has barely had time to mourn the recent passing of his father, the Browns’ franchise coach whom he fired, when his overbearing mother demands an impromptu, immediate memorial on the practice field.
Yes it’s Hollywood and all these storylines are plausible, if somewhat farfetched to all occur in a window smaller than 24 hours. It's like 24 (the TV series) meets Any Given Sunday.
For Dallas Cowboys fans, Dennis Leary plays the coach who sounds a lot like Barry Switzer, only younger and with a desire to create a semblance of an NFL legacy.
The movie loses all credibility with NFL fans when it goes rogue with the draft day wheeling dealing and preposterous timelines. For all its foibles, lack of chemistry between any of the actors, clichéd jokes that centre around a browbeaten intern, the movie really falls apart in its plot’s inherent improbability.
Here are five samples.
It begins early in the morning when Seattle calls and offers to trade the No. 1 overall pick for Cleveland’s No. 7 selection. The asking price: Next’s year’s No. 1 and a third rounder. And there’s a franchise quarterback on the draft table.
No contest. Make the trade. Even if you don’t want the quarterback, the value makes the trade worthwhile. You can always trade down again. Plus who makes this offer?
But no. Costner, who’s in the pantheon of the sports movie greats for Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and Tin Cup alone, fumbles the offer and most of the movie as well. The shifty-eyed, overwhelmed executive can’t see the value in the deal and turns it down…
Only to call back a couple of hours later in the day, and find that the trade demand now includes another Browns No. 1 pick…. Which Costner accepts because…
On draft day, team owner and water park impresario (Frank Langella) threatens his GM to make a big splash or be fired. The fan base demands it. Needs it.
There’s no doubt this scenario has played out in the NFL. It just doesn’t happen on the day of the NFL’s player selection meeting, hours before the team’s top-10 pick is about to come off the board.
Months ahead, maybe.
Having made the ill-conceived trade, Costner orders his football staff to find faults with the franchise quarterback, Bo Callahan (Josh Pence).
Again, there’s no doubt this scenario has played out in the NFL. It just doesn’t happen on the day of the NFL’s player selection meeting, hours before the pick is about to be made.
Months ahead, yes.
As it turns out, golden boy Callahan has one rather large wart. He has one personality trait that matches that of one of the greatest draft busts ever, Ryan Leaf.
The draft begins and Costner, having endured a nuclear day of emotions, goes back to his sticky note ‘big board’ and goes with his gut pick, linebacker Vontae Mack, who’s exactly the player Langella, who flies to New York for the draft with a Callahan jersey, did not want to see selected.
Doesn’t try to trade back down. Doesn’t field any offers for the No.1, doesn’t reach out for any. At this point, even Costner quips that he traded three first rounders and a third for a player he could’ve had at No. 7.
NFL fans have seen ridiculous trades and draft picks, never would they be combined like this.
Then Callahan begins to slide. All the way to No. 6. The rookie Jacksonville Jaguars GM who has the pick is so inept, he doesn’t know why Callahan is suddenly available. Good thing Costner, who suddenly discovers that he can deal his way out his mess, is there with an offer of three No. 2s. Which is what? Accepted. Really.
Never happens. Ever. Three No. 2s for the No. 6 pick, with a franchise quarterback, Leaf-like rumours and all, on the board. And there are no other suitors for the pick either. Right.
Langella, who’s irate in New York, leaves the draft, boards his private plane at an airport, lands in Cleveland and arrives at the Browns facility before the No. 6 pick is made. Or less than 50 minutes of real time. That’s a real trick.
And this one is the biggest one to gulp down. Armed with the No. 6 pick, Costner manages to get his picks back from Seattle, and gets an ace punt returner thrown in the package.
For those trying to keep track, the pick that was dealt for three No. 2s minutes ago, suddenly lands three No. 1s, a third and a special teams ace.
Only in Hollywood you say? That would seem to be the case.
There are a number of cameos in the movie, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the usual cast of NFL draft day talking heads, all of whom should’ve advised the screenwriters to rewrite the script, given its lack of reality.
With its seventh pick back, the Browns end up taking the son of the Browns’ all-time great running back. Not Jim Brown, who appears in the movie, but by former NFL journeyman Terry Crews. The running back? Played Arian Foster.