Saturday, April 19, 2014

Draft Day Review

As a huge fan of the NFL, one of my favorite days of the year is the day of the NFL draft. There are many reasons for me loving it, and I won't get into those reasons here, but I follow the upcoming draft all year long. February through April is especially fun because once the season is officially over, the NFL is purely focused on the draft. We have the scouting combine, pro days, individual workouts, and talk about the draft practically every day on ESPN. When the draft itself hits, I will be glued to my TV pretty much the whole time. Or at least during the first round that is. When I heard that they were doing a movie about draft day, it immediately had my attention. But not in the best way. I can actually be quite picky with my sports movies and Draft Day was attempting to find success by creating a fictional sports movie. This was confusing because with so many dramatic, real-life situations during the draft, why not pick one of them? Because of this, I went into the movie with a lot of questions. However, all my concerns were put to rest as I found that I really enjoyed this movie.

So yes, this is a fictional story about the draft. The team coaches and managers that are mentioned in the movie are fictional. The players getting drafted are fictional. The recent histories of the teams mentioned are fictional. It's all pure fiction. So how does this work? It works because the intention of this movie isn't to tell a true story about something that happened on a specific draft day, like say the drama between who the Colts should pick -- Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. The intention of this movie is to portray the atmosphere and drama that happens on any given draft day. And that is something that they do rather well. As a fan of the draft, I see all the drama that happens on the outside, and I love it, but I never see what happens on the inside. But yet as I watch the events unfold, I know that there is a ton of drama that happens behind the scenes. There are so many options for teams that opinions are most likely split. Arguments on who to pick will definitely happen. Tempers will be heated. Players may not be happy when certain picks happen. The phones will be off the hook all day as other teams are calling and figuring out options of potential trades. But yet, these are aspects of the game that the fans never see. Draft Day makes the attempt to show this drama on screen. While I of course don't know everything that happens, I feel that Draft Day does a good job of representing this and because of that I really enjoyed watching the movie unfold.

Getting to the actual movie now, Kevin Costner plays the role of a Cleveland Browns GM. Sonny Weaver Jr. is his name. The Seahawks have the number one pick, but apparently they don't want it, so they try to talk the Browns to get them to trade. After much talking, Sonny bites and gives up three number one picks for the top pick in the draft. This causes all kinds of reaction. Owner Anthony Molina is happy with Sonny because he finally made a splash. Coach Penn, the new head coach is upset because that means the Browns will most likely take Bo Callahan (quarterback) with that pick and Coach Penn really likes their current quarterback Brian Drew and hates rookie quarterbacks. Brian Drew is obviously mad because he is getting replaced. He did great as the starter the previous season, but got hurt a few games in. However, he had been working his butt off during the offseason and is in the best shape of his life. The fans are really happy because they will get a new franchise quarterback. However, draft prospects Vontae Mack (linebacker) and Ray Jennings (runningback) are upset because both of them wanted to play with the Browns. Added to all this drama is the story lines between Sonny and his girlfriend and his mom. His girlfriend is also an executive for the Browns and has told Sonny she is pregnant. With all the stress he's going through, Sonny didn't react to that very well. His mom also wants to make him show respect for his recently passed father by spreading his ashes on the practice field.

The writing in this movie is beautiful. Despite all these people being fictional, I got myself invested in the drama of the draft like I would in an actual draft. I was honestly interested in what was going to happen between to draft prospects Bo Callahan, Vontae Mack, and Ray Jennings. The NFL completely supported this movie and thus actual team names, logos, and even ESPN analysts were a part of the movie, thus making it feel realistic. Added to that, the movie was loaded with great actors. Kevin Costner is back doing what he does best -- sports movies. Jennifer Garner plays his girlfriend, Dennis Leary plays Coach Penn, Frank Langella plays Owner Anthony Molina, and Tom Welling plays current quarterback Brian Drew. All of them are fantastic as the main players in this movie. But in addition, I want to point out two more actors. The first is the actor for Vontae Mack and that is Chadwick Boseman. If you don't know that name, write it down right now. He was great as Jackie Robinson in 42, he was great in this, and it looks like he will also be great as James Brown in Get on Up. Also of note, Arian Foster plays runningback prospect Ray Jennings. Why is this cool? First off Arian does a great job in his acting debut. Also, though, this was a cool Easter egg for sports fans. Arian Foster is the starting runningback for the Houston Texans in real life and one of the best in the business. He had a great college career, but due to a poor senior year, he went undrafted. Had teams been able to see the future, he would've been a first round pick for sure. And now he gets to go back and get that experience of being drafted. Kinda. I thought that was cool. Finally, I did enjoy seeing Chris Berman, Mel Kiper Jr., Jon Gruden, Deion Sanders, Mike Mayock, Roger Goodell, and Rich Eisen playing themselves in this movie and thus doing the things that they actually do in real life when draft time comes.

Overall, as a fan of the NFL draft, I was thoroughly entertained by the events in the movie. Are there some things that bothered me? Sure. The main thing is that the Browns traded for the number one pick and then started doing their research on the guy that was the "sure-fire number one pick." In reality, if an NFL team were to give up so much to trade for the top pick, they would've already done all their research. Later things that happen were also a bit far-fetched, but I won't spoil it. Those things are fairly minor, though, and didn't take away from my enjoyment of this movie. Will you like this movie if you are not a fan of sports or of the NFL draft? I have no idea. I tried to put myself in those shoes, but it didn't work. So sorry. If you need that opinion, you will have to go to someone else to get it. But this NFL draft fan is going to give Draft Day a 9/10.   

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