Has it really come to this, Cleveland? Have things with your sports teams gotten so bad you’ve taken to writing fan fiction about the NFL draft? Not about a game or a season. The draft. Way to aim high. To be fair, even though it’s co-written by a native son of northeast Ohio, Draft Day
isn’t really about the Browns or that long-suffering city on the banks of the Cuyahoga. Slot in any losing franchise and the movie remains the same. Set—you guessed it—on the day of an alternate-reality football draft, the film, directed by Ivan Reitman, hardly leaves the training facility, relegating fans and even players to the margins and focusing instead on the plight of an underappreciated, oft-overlooked figure in pro sports: the rich, white general manager. Pressured to “make a splash” while strolling through a water park with the team’s owner, new Browns GM Sonny Weaver (played by Kevin Costner as a wooden plank with eyes) has a choice: Does he trade up to nab the sure-thing quarterback…or go with his gut
? There is natural intrigue in the machinations of powerful men playing chess with the careers of young athletes, and for fleeting moments, Draft Day
conjures some of that. But then the rest of Weaver’s life—pregnant secret girlfriend, hothead coach, dead father—interrupts, and the film dissolves into NFL-sponsored pablum. Better luck next time, Cleveland…though you’re probably sick of hearing that.