Also, I don’t have ESPN.
The best way to define my relationship with sports is casual. I was never all that good at the sports I played, but I liked playing them because that’s what my friends were doing and it was easier to get a hockey game started than to convince everyone we should just stay inside and watch Gleaming the Cube again. So I did two tours of duty on a baseball team, way more years playing tennis than my physique would have you guess, and a few weeks on my grade school basketball team. That one was short-lived because the coach pulled me aside to tell me that he didn’t ever cut anyone from his teams, but if he was going to cut someone, it would have been me. Knowing how special I was, I stayed home after that.
All of that emotional scarring aside, I look forward to football season every year. Even when the Eagles are giving the rest of the Philadelphia area serious indigestion. Do I want them to win? Very much so. I love seeing people from my city show feats of physical prowess like climbing greased polls and eating horse cop shit. Truly. I do. But that doesn’t mean that I have any insight or interest in the behind the scenes elements of it. I look forward to the games and I look forward to reading while I’m watching those games. It’s Sunday, fuck off.
But now that the closest thing we have to live sports is streaming people playing video games to make sure bookies are staying employed, even I’m feeling the hurt. Not quite enough to watch the NFL draft, though. I will not remember any of the specifics or anyone’s names, and I burned all of my live television that my girlfriend won’t watch with me time by watching Chopping Mall again on Shudder.
So instead of getting bogged down into seeing how NFL franchise GMs have remodeled their homes to make it look like they are “working” and burn a fuck ton of time pretending like they forgot who they were going to choose, I decided it would just be easier to watch the 2014 Ivan Reitman film Draft Day starring the re-animated corpse of Kevin Costner.
Because while I may not love the ins and outs of professional sports, I DO love mediocre studio films that no one could possibly actually want to watch. Why not spend the better part of two hours watching $25,000,000 get thrown right out of a goddamn window by seeing one man’s struggle to make a single decision?
Oh, also, this isn’t the first time I’ve watched this movie. The first time I watched it, I thought it would be funny to convince my old roommate that I was going to while he went out for a run. A battle of wills commenced as he decided to do his pre-run stretches in the next room, with the television in full view, practically daring me to hit play. So I did. A hundred and ten minutes later, it was still on and his run was canceled. I’m still not sure if we watched the whole thing because we were surprised by it or if we just needed to see why the fuck they made it to begin with.
Hell, I refuse to take part in a fantasy football draft because the first time I did, I went out and bought a stats magazine to help me figure it out, but it didn’t tell me that one of my early picks for the season blew out his…rotary…girder…earlier that day. I found out because I made the pick and had THAT GUY who took it too seriously proceed to, “Pshhh…good one.” me. Like that made him better than me? I mean, I think he’s a lawyer or something now, but I sure ball-tapped the shit out of him that day.
So why did they make this movie? Because they needed to make Moneyball for dummies.
This is a movie that starts off by two characters throwing around HIGHLY TECHNICAL FOOTBALL FRONT OFFICE JARGON at each other rapid fire, but then also proceeds to try and explain what the draft is like we are the players the NFL didn’t protect from CTE. It was made just too early to hit that popular “journalism” trope by making a Harry Potter analogy because it’s the only thing anyone understands anymore and we must be stupid.
What it really boils down to is pretty much what the NFL is in reality. A bunch of ultra-rich assholes pretending that everything they do is blue collar and for the people, so please buy these blue collar products. CUE THE COUNTRY MUSIC!
The perfect example is when Kevin Costner shows up (and I do mean that lightly), his character lives in what is basically the Cleveland suburbs equivalent of the house from Parasite, but, you know…he drives a pickup truck. For all of that house remodeling he does when he isn’t wheeling and/or dealing as the general manager of the fucking Cleveland Browns.
But you know football is for the working man! They let me know this by having someone write “FIRE SONNY” (this is Kevin Costner’s character’s name and I’m glad I made note of it because, otherwise, I would just keep referring to him as Football Man) with their finger in the dirt on the back window of THEIR pickup truck. Haha…we all drive pickups trucks! We’re all the same! America is wonderful!
The movie itself is mostly about hyper-aggressive business bros, who just so happen to love football, neg each other into making deals that apparently none of them want to make. Football Man even has a Sun Tzu quote drilled into the wall of his office, so you know he means business, folks.
But considering they need to pad this thing out to longer than 15 minutes of things actually happening, Ivan Reitman, director of classics like Ghostbusters and Twins and film crimes like My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Junior, made sure that they added an emotional element to the movie. Football Man’s dad recently passed (awww) after Football Man fired him from his coaching job (booooo). And while Football Man is dealing with the loss of Football Dad, he finds out that his girlfriend (jennifer Garner given absolutely NOTHING to work with), who is also another executive for the Browns, is pregnant (SCANDALOUS!). And then, like, Football Mom and Football Ex-Wife show up and give him even more shit for no reason and I’m sure it read like character development at some point in the process.
But the movie is still like 90% phone calls and indecision.
Apparently, everyone loses their goddamn mind on draft day and it makes you question if anyone even did any planning. The Browns have the seventh pick of the first round and Football Man has some decisions to make. He really likes a linebacker played by Chadwick Bosemen, who is probably the only actor even trying in this movie, but his Virginian accent is so inexplicable, it makes his Wakandan accent sound like he’s from the midwest. But the coach (Dennis Leary, bursting from effort to not rant about coffee flavors) wants a running back whose father used to play for the Browns. Like that means ANYTHING at all. When we first meet the coach, he is telling the most hyperbolic story about how good this running back is to a bunch of coaches and front office people who are reacting like they’ve never watched a game of football in their lives. “He RAN with the ball?!”
In the midst of driving his pickup truck that has never carried anything close to a full payload or maxed out it’s Ford Toughness, Football Man gets sold on some bullshit deal by the stock football character from Seattle who sleeps on his couch because he loves football so fucking much, to take the first pick overall in exchange for three years worth of first round picks. Then everyone gets mad at Football Man because that slot has been pre-destined to a quarterback that literally no one who works for the Browns wants. Except the owner, but we know he’s a shithead because he wears sunglasses indoors.
So the rest of the movie is Costner agonizing over the concept that there has to be something wrong with this quarterback. The closest he gets is a rumor that none of his college football teammates went to his birthday party. And that somehow becomes the character flaw that makes Football Man not want him. It should be noted the running back that he was considering the whole time was arrested for beating the fuck out of some dude in a brawl involving gang members he was friends with. Oh. I see. In his defense, though, he admits to making a mistake. The quarterback I think is supposed to come as suspicious, but Costner calls Sam Elliott’s mustache, who was the QB’s college coach, he tells Costner to suck shit and take him because you can’t believe rumors!
Then the final ten minutes of the movie is watching the entire draft go off the rails. It somehow leads to the Browns taking the linebacker as the first pick, then him fleecing Pat Healy to take 3 years of second round picks in exchange for Jacksonville’s first round pick, because he is so confused by the Browns’ first pick that he will do anything to not have to choose. A scenario so insane that I have to assume that this is a sequel to Cheap Thrills. Then Football Man trades that sixth overall pick he got from Jacksonville to Seattle in exchange for all of the first round picks for the next three years he threw away at the beginning of the movie, PLUS a punt returner. So Seattle gets the quarterback they would have taken as the first pick anyway, just cheaper. And then the Browns land back at the original seventh overall pick and get the running back he could have also taken had nothing ever happened.
So just in case you didn’t follow all of that, it’s okay, because all it does is prove that everything these fuckheads do is a grift. The coach NEEDS a running back. Football Man is the GM and he wants the linebacker because it’s HIS decision. What a fucking child. He just so happens to make an ostensibly bad decision and everything pans out for him.
These simple moves made while the draft is happening make everyone love Football Man again. Including Football Girlfriend and Football Mom who was mad at him for literally no reason, because we find out at some point that she begged him to fire his father so he wouldn’t die out there on the field in some attempt to live the Warrior’s Way.
Speaking of which, we are treated to this song as the credit’s start to roll:
Jesus fuck. This is definitely the type of shit that some guy you know who only wears military camo, but never actually signed up for the armed forces, listens to when he is getting amped up to ruin a little league game.
Eh…I give it like three stars. I watched it twice, what do you want from me? And it probably made me no happier or angrier than if I watched the actual draft and was somehow emotionally invested in it. It just took me less than two hours to do it.