"Draft Day" is a Day to Be Remembered

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The General Manager of the Cleveland Browns struggles to acquire the number one draft pick for his team.
Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment
January 7th, 2014

Scheduled to be released on April 11, 2014, "Draft Day" is a sports drama starring Kevin Costner as Sonny Weaver, Jr., the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns football team. The movie portrays the events that lead up to one of the most important days of the year, draft day. Sonny Weaver is entrusted with building a winning football team, and in doing so, he trades for the number one draft pick. In order to get the top pick, he must make sacrifices that many will disagree with, including the Head Coach (Denis Leary), who believes he knows how to put together a winning team better than Weaver can. The movie also stars Sean Combs, Frank Langella, Chadwick Boseman, and Sam Elliott, but the real star of the film is the NFL in all of its glory.

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The film was originally set to center around the Buffalo Bills football team, but filming with the Browns in Ohio was much cheaper. Portions of the filming also took place in April 2013 at the Radio City Music Hall during the actual NFL draft. A long-time Browns fan, Rajiv Joseph, and playwright Scott Rothman wrote the script for the film. The two stated they initially wrote the film for themselves, being avid football fans. The script made its way around Hollywood and eventually landed on the desk of Ivan Reitman. Reitman has produced a variety of Hollywood hits including "Ghostbusters," "Animal House," "Stripes," and "Road Trip."

Filming began in May of 2013 with a cast of great actors. Jennifer Garner stars as Ali, the perfect character to challenge Weaver. With her intelligence and beauty, Ali offers Weaver advice and provides him with the support he needs while making decisions for the team. She even tells him that all that matters is his vision, thus inspiring him to push forward and not listen to the criticism of others. She convinces him he can see things others cannot, which will eventually be the tide that turns around the team's fortunes. The Browns franchise has never won a Super Bowl, and the town has not had a championship team since 1964. Weaver has a dream to change all of that in one simple day.

 

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The basic plot of the film finds Costner following his gut instincts during intense draft negotiations instead of listening to fans, the owner, and the media. The premise seems to mix the instincts of Gus (Clint Eastwood) in "Trouble with the Curve" and the money aspect from Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) from "Moneyball." Costner has the opportunity to save football for Cleveland, and he must decide quickly on draft day, while putting his personal and professional relationships aside. The movie is less like a major-league movie and more like one based on character. It is fast-paced and suspenseful, as Costner's character goes up against the draft deadline.

When producers wish to use logos from professional sports teams, they must receive permission. When "Any Given Sunday" was produced, director Oliver Stone failed to receive the NFL's permission to use real NFL logos, so he devised the fictional American Football Franchises of America (AFFA). "Draft Day" seems to have full permission, with real logos and actual clips of game play used in the production. This important detail adds an element of realism to the film, which is sure to delight fans of the sport.

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"Draft Day" released its first movie trailer in December 2013, right before the NFL heads into the playoffs, conveniently, a time when emotions are high and football is fresh on everyone's mind. It will also be released approximately a month before the actual NFL draft takes place.

Costner, who has starred in a long list of other sports dramas, including "Bull Durham" and "For the Love of the Game," brings a believable element to the cast of this much-anticipated football flick. In spite of the fact that Costner usually makes films centered around baseball, he is completely in his element in this role. It promises to be an excellent story from a great cast, perfect for the sports lover in all of us. Even though Costner's character is purely fictional, the movie provides hope of a Super Bowl win to Browns fans everywhere.

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