Saturday, July 18, 2015
I can only wonder what someone who isn't a Cleveland Browns fan would think when they watch Draft Day (2014). I'm from Cleveland, I was born the season of Earnest Byner's fumble, my first sports idol was Bernie Kosar, I remember the uproar over The Move, and the last game I ever attended, Tim Couch was quarterback. After that, I kind stopped following them (do you blame me?) and only started paying attention again the last couple of years. So even though I'm not really a huge fan of sports movies, Draft Day is a movie I can't pass by.
Draft Day, directed by Ivan Reitman, stars Kevin Costner as Sonny Weaver Jr., general manager of the Browns. It's Draft Day, and his boss, Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) wants him to "make a splash," but his girlfriend, Aly (Jennifer Garner), who's in charge of the salary cap, just told him she's pregnant, and it's only been a week since the death of his father, Sonny Weaver Sr., a legendary Browns coach whom Sonny fired. Meanwhile, the new coach, Penn (Denis Leary), likes to flash his Super Bowl ring and has little respect for his general manager.
Sonny, who has the number seven pick, is weighing between linebacker Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) and running back Ray Jennings (Arian Foster), whose father Earl (Terry Crews) played for the Browns. That's all thrown in the air when the general manager of the Seattle Seahawks offers Sonny a deal: the number one pick for the next three year's worth of first round picks. If he takes it, Sonny can draft top quarterback prospect, Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), even though Cleveland's current quarterback, Brian Drew (Tom Welling), is back from knee surgery and said to be stronger than ever.
Because so much time is spent on this Hollywood material, the Moneyball aspects of the movie get reduced to mostly surface level observations - is this player of higher moral character, etc. - and you don't come away feeling you've gotten any great insight into how a team selects its draft choices. The climax comes to life as Sonny wheels and deals under the clock, but it seems really unlikely he would get the results he gets here. It seems too happy and perfect, especially since the movie ends with the start of the season, and the Browns look ready to dominate.