Draft Day. We, as Browns fans look forward to it every year. We throw watch parties just to see our future player get announced in a matter of seconds. Then we can cheer, boo, or shout "what are they thinking?!" when the pick is official. The movie captured this perfectly. The draft is a little less than a month away, and I cannot wait.
I won’t spoil the ending or how the draft in the movie plays out, so feel free to keep reading. I think this is must see for NFL fans who appreciate the wheeling and dealing when it comes down to making that important pick for the future of your franchise. A must see for all Browns fans because it portrays a certain commemoration for a sport that Cleveland absolutely appreciates. If you’re looking for something other than that in this movie, you’re not going to find it. But I’ll admit it, this review may come off as a little biased because I’m a sucker for seeing my beloved team and city on the big screen.
The story takes place a little over 12 hours before the draft. Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) is the General Manager of the Browns and has the 7th pick of the draft. Seattle has the 1st pick (didn’t they just win the Super Bowl?) and is looking to trade the pick away to someone desperate. Bam! Right after they say that, a panorama shot over Lake Erie of First Energy Stadium and the city of Cleveland is shown on the screen. The movie does a nice job of showing how big of a football town Cleveland is and our struggles we had to endure as an expansion team brought back in 1999.
Sonny meets with the Browns owner, Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) at a water park who tells him he needs to "make a splash" in this year’s draft. This puts pressure on Sonny, which causes him to make a decision for the 1st pick of the draft. The consensus number 1 pick is a QB from Wisconsin named Bo Callahan, a proven winner who Sonny is still not convinced he would take. Any decision seems to anger Browns head coach Penn (Denis Leary), a former Dallas coach who proudly displays his Super Bowl ring as his way of letting everyone he’s right.
The story becomes a constant struggle of Sonny trying to decide what is best for the franchise, while everyone else seems to have a different opinion. You cannot help but think Ray Farmer will go through the same thing. Sonny does have the help of his girlfriend, Ali (Jennifer Garner), who is also in charge of the Browns salary cap, to keep him level-headed through the process. Although the whole romance story between them seemed a little forced, it was most likely designed to give something else to those non-football fans who were watching.
A theme apparent in the movie is "how do you know the player you are drafting isn’t going to be a bust." We don’t know. Peyton Manning was said to have a weak arm, and Ryan Leaf was expected to be a guaranteed star. With a fine-toothed comb, Sonny looks for anything, and I mean anything to tell him if Bo Callahan is the right fit. He flat out calls Bo and asks him why his Wisconsin teammates never attended his 21st birthday party. Every detail in the draft matters.
Realistic and unrealistic aspects outline the story as in any Hollywood movie. Roger Goodell gets too many cheers when he approaches the podium, and a current player trashes the GM’s office for fear of getting replaced by a player in the draft (I can’t see Brian Hoyer doing that if we draft a QB this year). Overall I thought it was a good movie, and it makes you look forward to that May 8th date.
The movie is a celebration of the Cleveland Browns culture from an all-star cast of actors. Photos of current and former Browns players line the halls of the facility in the movie (Joe Thomas, Joe Haden, Bernie Kosar, Brian Sipe). NFL stars, icons, Browns fans like Pumpkinhead, the Browns practice facility, First Energy Stadium, the Dawg Pound, the muni-lot, and the city of Cleveland all fill the screen. Whether or not the story was realistic, it still establishes the fact that the draft is unpredictable and full of suspense that all football fans can appreciate.