Allegany Communications Sports

The NFL hosts one of its most important and most-watched television productions tonight with its first installment of this year’s NFL Draft; or, as it is officially called, the Player Selection Meeting.

Yeah, some meeting; but I’ll watch it, even though I don’t follow it very closely anymore. Why not? It’s TV, and it’s watchable TV.

Which reminds me: As it is Player Selection Meeting Week, the late-night TV part of myself has been disappointed so far that no network I could find has aired “Draft Day,” the 2014 movie starring Kevin Costner and a very entertaining supporting cast.

“Draft Day” is a really bad movie, but I must enjoy it because I watch it every time I see that it’s on. It’s one of the all-time leaders in being so bad that it’s good, and that’s my kind of television. On top of that, the movie had the full endorsement and cooperation of the NFL as there is an NFL team logo prominently shown in just about every scene, and none other than Commissioner Roger Goodell has several speaking scenes in it as well.

Let’s put it this way: The movie is so bad, unrealistic and camp that Goodell receives rousing cheers from the New York crowd when he is introduced to open the draft. In this case, life does not imitate art … watch what happens when he takes the stage tonight in real-life time.

To summarize, for those of you who haven’t seen it, on the morning of the Player Selection Meeting, Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver Jr., played by Costner, must figure out how to use the seventh overall pick to improve the team. But, of course, he has other things on his mind, and what NFL general manager doesn’t on the morning of the NFL Draft?

Sonny’s semi-secret girlfriend Ali Parker, the team’s salary cap expert, decides that first thing Draft Day morning is the perfect time to tell Sonny she is pregnant. This comes on the heels of the recent death of Sonny’s father, the former beloved head coach of the Browns, which has caused great tension with Sonny’s mother.

But, wait. Sonny is the one who actually fired his father, which he later admits he did because his mother asked him to because his father refused to retire even with his failing health.

Well, this just in – he died anyway; and he died with a broken heart because his kid fired him from the only job he ever wanted.

Now are you beginning to understand?

To make a long story short, the Seattle Seahawks hold the first overall pick and after the Browns owner, played by Frank Langella, tells Sonny he needs to make a splash in this draft, Sonny foolishly mortgages the team’s future by trading his next three first-round picks for the Seahawks’ No. 1 pick for the chance to draft highly-regarded Wisconsin quarterback Bo Callahan, who we come to learn is a total loser.

The unexpected opportunity to draft Callahan excites Browns fans, but splits the team’s front office (which is essentially a small group of guys with laptops) and players, particularly Sonny, his girlfriend, the head coach and the Browns’ current quarterback, who Sonny likes very much.

To make a long story even shorter, the rest of the way we watch how Sonny tries to dig his way out of this awful trade, deal with his pregnant girlfriend, who he meets in a storage closet between picks of the NFL Draft, and his goofy mother, who wants Sonny to spread his father’s ashes on the Browns’ practice field while he’s trying to conduct the NFL Draft.

The entire movie is corny cliché: Sonny, the general manager of the Browns, between visits to the storage closet to pitch woo with his pregnant girlfriend/salary cap expert, carries around a football all day, no doubt, just as all NFL general managers do when they’re trying to conduct a draft.

When the decision is made to draft Callahan, Sonny wants to see film of the Badgers QB. Just a couple of hours before he makes the No. 1 pick he’s going to take a look at film of the top prospect in the draft?

As Sonny is trying to dig himself out of this Bo Callahan mess, a potential trade (with, I think, Buffalo) is put on the table. Sonny says he’ll consider it but needs to “see the stats” on one of the running backs that would come to the Browns.

Stats? Get me the stats? As though anybody other than fantasy football players look at stats? General managers are aware of numbers; they don’t look at stats before making trades. This just ain’t how it works.

That’s only a small part of this corny cliché of a movie that was made to be taken seriously, which is what, of course, makes it even funnier. Still, a very entertaining and talented cast:

Costner plays Sonny Weaver, the beleaguered Browns GM; Jennifer Garner plays Ali Parker, the team’s salary cap person in the storage closet; Denis Leary plays Browns head coach Vince Penn, who Sonny hired to replace Dad; Frank Langella is Anthony Molina, the Browns owner; Sam Elliott is Coach Moore of Wisconsin; and Ellen Burstyn is Barb, Sonny’s mom.

The late Chadwick Boseman plays Ohio State linebacker Vontae Mack, Rosanna Arquette is Angie, Sonny’s ex-wife (hey, they all come to see Sonny on Draft day), while Goodell, Jon Gruden, the late Jim Brown, Bernie Kosar, Chris Berman, Rich Eisen, Ray Lewis and Alex Marvez all play themselves, which further adds to the camp of the entire experience.

Not to play spoiler here, but the movie ends as the Browns and the city of Cleveland celebrate an outstanding draft with a draft party. After the draft party, Sonny reconciles with his mother over his excellent draft performance and her soon-to-be first grandchild (after a day of fighting with her, he decides to tell her on his way out the door).

Then he leaves for the night with his salary cap expert (the storage closet must have been taken) and leaves his mother in the Browns’ training facility alone, by herself, holding the empty urn that had held the remains of her beloved husband, whom she forced her son to fire from the only job the poor man ever wanted.

Now do you understand?

If you haven’t already, you have to check out this movie. It might just be the king of So Bad It’s Good, which means, God help me, I do love it so.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT