Draft Day is a 2014 American sports drama film directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner. The premise revolves around the general manager of the Cleveland Browns (Costner) and the challenges he faces in the final hours before the 2014 National Football League Draft.
When the idea was first made public, the film was to be centered around the Buffalo Bills, but the studio subsequently changed it to the Cleveland Browns because of cheaper production costs in Ohio. The film contains multiple Real Life football analysts, commentators and players. Most of them play themselves, like Chris Berman, but among others, Arian Foster is playing a rookie running back.
Key characters in the film include::
- Sonny Weaver Junior (Costner), the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. On Draft Day, he is the one responsible for the draft picks and making trades with other NFL franchises. When General Manager Tom Michaels of the Seattle Seahawks offers Sonny the first overall draft pick in exchange for multiple first-round picks in the next three years, Sonny takes up the offer, which would allow the Browns the chance to select top prospect Bo Callahan, yet he is adamant Vontae Mack is the better option. Draft Day revolves around Sonny's choices and the reactions of others in the Browns organization and the entire league.
- Vince Penn (Denis Leary), head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He has a different opinion than Sonny on who to draft in the first-round: Ray Jennings (Foster), a running back whose father Earl Jennings (Terry Crews) previously played for the team. Penn provides the primary contrast to Sonny's decision-making with the Browns.
- Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), winner of the Heisman Trophy, and regarded as a player with the raw talent to become a franchise quarterback and whom all trades depicted in Draft Day revolve around. Were Bo to be drafted with the Browns, this will inevitably put the team's current quarterback Brian Drew (Tom Welling) out of a job. However, is Callahan truly the future star everybody thinks he is?
- Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman), a rambunctious linebacker who enters the draft, eyeing an early pick since that means a better contract and more income to support his family. Vontae believes the Browns are his best chance after the team receives the first overall pick, as other franchises are not looking for a linebacker.
- Ali Parker (Jennifer Garner), the Cleveland Browns salary cap expert. She's in a secret relationship with Sonny and discovers she's pregnant before Draft Day.
The film was moderately successful at the box office and received mixed receptions from critics, who deemed the story implausible, predictable but entertaining, nonetheless.
This film provides examples of:
- Ambiguous Situation: Did all of Bo's teammates really not attend his 21st birthday party, and if so, why? Sonny suspects that Bo doesn't get along with his team, but Bo gets out of explaining by claiming to have no memory of that night. Sonny has to concede that it's a plausible excuse — he doesn't remember his 21st birthday party either — and while he ends up trusting his instincts about Bo, his suspicions are never confirmed.
- Babies Ever After: Sonny and Ali are nervous about becoming parents and are having problems with their secret relationship. However, the epilogue establishes them as an Official Couple - the baby isn't born, yet Ali is visibly pregnant and both are enjoying it.
- Bad Liar: Bo is called out a few times over this, though not directly at him - when Sonny questions why his college teammates didn't come to his 21st birthday party, Callahan states he doesn't remember. Later, when Browns Security Chief Ralph Mowry tells a story about the Washington Redskins attaching a $100 bill on the back of the Redskins' playbook in order to test if their quarterbacks have actually read it, all of them found the money or admitted they didn't read the playbook - Bo, instead, claimed he forgot about the money until after the Redskins mentioned it to him, when he clearly didn't read it.
- Butt-Monkey: Rick the Intern, who fills in for Ali for the duration of Draft Day
- The Cameo: A lot of analysts, officials, players and presenters from the NFL make an appearance in Draft Day, chief among them being Roger Goodell, Chris Berman, Jon Gruden and Rich Eisen.
- Cool Uncle: Vontae is active in the lives in the nephews, presumably especially since his sister's death, even taking them to gymnastics in his hometown in Virginia. His main motivation for being drafted as high as possible, and by extension a more lucrative rookie contract, is to be able to provide for them.
- Darkest Hour: When Sonny selects Vontae instead of Bo as the first overall pick in the Draft, the Browns traded away their first-round picks for the next three years for this player, a person who they could have grabbed without sacrificing any trades at all and selected him as the seventh overall pick (which they initially had before the Seahawks offered them their first pick). This effectively destroys their chances to build a team in the next few years; at that moment, Sonny has all but lost his job. Averted when other franchises take Sonny's consideration into heart by not selecting Bo themselves, inevitably disrupting the Draft.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The hype surrounding Callahan and the fictional draft is reminiscent of Johnny Manziel, who ended up in Cleveland and turned out to be a major bust, during the Real Life 2014 NFL Draft. Furthermore, the trade for Callahan is almost the same as the trade between the Rams and the Redskins in 2012. To add further irony, the player selected as a result of the 2012 trade was RGIII who as of the 2016 season plays in Cleveland (when he's not injured) after injury cut his career in Landover, Maryland short.
- Establishing Character Moment: Discussed regarding Bo and Brian - Mowry tells Sonny the Redskins' test. Whereas Bo sticks with his lie about forgeting about the $100 bill at the back of the playbook, Brian (when he was playing for the Redskins) returns the bill with a card saying the Redskins can pay him when he wins them the Superbowl.
- Extremely Short Timespan: The movie starts 12 hours before the draft and ends after the first-round picks (ignoring the epilogue).
- Fatal Flaw: Callahan is a great quarterback with such talent he can become the face of an NFL franchise for years, except Sonny doesn't draft him because he doubts Bo's ability to perform under pressure and his negative personality problems.
- Gut Feeling: A large part of why Sonny doubts Bo being the best pick in the Draft stems from this upon being told of his Fatal Flaw. Ali tells him not to listen to other people, but to do on what he thinks is best. Lampshaded word-for-word when Sonny tells General Manager Jeff Carson of the Jacksonville Jaguars why he didn't pick Callahan.
- HeelFace Turn: In-Universe, Sonny - he fired his father Sonny Weaver Senior as head coach of the Browns, which vilified him to the organization and its fans. When Sonny chooses Vontae over Bo, Coach Penn, the fans and Browns owner Anthony Molina want his head, until Sonny's decision changes the rest of the Draft's structure. After multiple acquisitions via trades with other teams during the Draft, the Browns wind up with their original choices they had wanted from the start, turning Sonny into a hero for the organization. Even Penn, his staunchest critic, is impressed.
- Heroic BSoD: Upon learning Sonny has traded for the first overall pick in the Draft, Drew goes into one by trashing Sonny's office, since selecting Bo means he'll likely be out as quarterback, especially when he was injured in the last season and had to train in the off-season to get back in top shape. Meanwhile, during the actual Draft, Callahan suffers an anxiety attack when he's not chosen as first overall.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Sonny only fired his father because doctors warned him about a risk of dying during his stressful job, to which Sonny's mother asked her son to do it, since that would would have resulted in some relaxed years for the old man. Too bad Sonny Senior died anyway.
- Idiot Ball: Sonny trades first-round draft picks for the next three years for a player he doesn't know without consulting Coach Penn or the scouts; he researches Bo Callahan after he makes the trade. If he at least did his research right after the initial trade offer from the Seahawks, he wouldn't have made the trade or would have achieved a much better bargain, thus it's no wonder Penn, the players and the scouts are pissed.
- Sonny acquires the #6 pick from Jacksonville for three second-rounders and then immediately flips it to Seattle for three first-rounders plus a player. Jacksonville could have gotten a much better return on their pick if they'd traded it to Seattle instead of locking in on Cleveland as their trade partner. Jacksonville settled for second-round picks because Cleveland had no first-rounders to trade at this point, and it was public knowledge that Seattle fans were irate at their team's first trade because it risked losing Callahan; Jacksonville should have anticipated the desperation of a team that had more to offer than Cleveland did.
- Ironic Echo: Michaels offers his first-round pick in the current Draft for first-round picks in the next two years from the Browns. Initially, Sonny declines the offer, but changes his mind and accepts it; Michaels raises his offer to first-round picks for the next three years, stating it's a different world than three hours ago. During the Draft, after he acquires the sixth overall pick from the Jaguars, Sonny wants to trade it with Michaels for his three first-round picks back; when Michaels accepts, Sonny raises the offer to include a special teams player, saying it's a different world than 30 seconds ago.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Coach Penn often acts like a Jerkass, but he's right when he points out the Browns made a draft analysis and created a playbook with Brian Drew as a quarterback in mind (Penn doesn't want to teach a new quarterback his plays). Months or maybe even years of work has become worthless because of a rash decision by Sonny.
- Manipulative Bastard: Michaels succeeds in making a trade with Sonny which is beneficial for the Seahawks. Turned on its head later when Sonny does the same by coercing Carson to trade away his sixth overall pick to the Browns, giving Sonny a chance to take back his three first-round picks from Michaels by offering up the sixth pick to the Seahawks.
- Next Sunday A.D.: This film was released in 2014, a month before the Real Life draft, to wit some people actually referred to this movie.
- No Antagonist: Played with - the closest thing to one in Draft Day is Tom Michaels, yet he's simply doing his job as a general manager of a major sports franchise. The true conflict in this movie comes from the pressure on Sonny and the choices he has to make before and during the Draft.
- Non-Actor Vehicle: Arian Foster, a veteran NFL running back, does not play himself, but a rookie running back. Unlike Real Life, Foster's character is actually drafted.
- Open Secret: Sonny and Ali might be in a secret relationship, but multiple colleagues already know this, even mentioning it to their faces. Lampshaded in a conversation between Ali and Coach Penn, whom the latter states that she "has his [Sonny's] ears".
- Opt Out: Subverted with Coach Penn - after he learns their second-round picks for the next three years are traded away to the Jaguars, he frustratingly quits his job. Sonny asks him to at least wait until the end of the first-round; if he still doesn't like the results of the Draft, Penn can quit. However, it turns out the Draft ends up in the Browns' favor and Coach Penn gets the player he wanted from the start.
- Pet the Dog: Rick suffers some abuse from the Browns' staff, but when Sonny destroys his laptop in a rage, he apologizes to Rick and promises him a better one.
- Precision F-Strike: When Sonny pushes Michaels into accepting the trade for the sixth overall pick."Come on, say it, you pancake eating motherfucker!"
- Promotion to Parent: While the film leaves the specifics unclear, Vontae seems to have stepped in as a parental figure for his nephews since his sister's death (if he wasn't before - there's no mention of their father). His doggedness in getting drafted by the Browns with the 7th overall pick was motivated in large part by his desire to provide for them with a more lucrative contract (the 7th overall pick in the Real Life 2014 NFL Draft got a contract worth $14.6M).
- Relationship Upgrade: By the end of the film, Sonny and Ali no longer decide to keep their relationship secret, despite it being clearly open.
- Tears of Joy: Vontae when he is drafted as the first overall pick.
- Third Act Stupidity: Inverted - Sonny might have been tricked into a monumentally bad trade by Michaels, but once he makes his choice for first overall pick in the Draft, all teams in the NFL are bewildered because they believe Sonny's non-pick for Bo Callahan implies there's something wrong with the latter (which there is). When the easily-rattled, New Meat General Manager Jeff Carson of the Jaguars doesn't know who to pick as their sixth overall (due to the previous teams having picked the Jaguars' intended choices), Sonny trades the Browns' second-round picks for the next three years in place of the sixth spot so the Jaguars can recuperate and reorganize themselves. Finally, Sonny trades the suddenly stupid Michaels the sixth pick for the return of not only the seventh spot, but all three first-round picks PLUS an additional player; furthermore, Coach Penn gets Ray Jennings as the seventh pick like he wanted. In-Universe, Sonny's draft decisions are called an act of genius by sports analysts and commentators.
- Tomboy: Ali admits football is her life and that she doesn't know anything about typical mother stuff.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Played with - before departing for New York on his private jet to the Draft, Molina calls Bo (whom he believes will be drafted into the Browns) the son he never had. Sonny remarks Molina already has a son.
- Wham Line: In-Universe example - "The Cleveland Browns select...Vontae Mack!" While it's hardly surprising for the audience at that point, NOBODY expected the Browns would have agreed to such a trade with the Seahawks to acquire Vontae as the first overall, or simply the fact that Bo Callahan was not the first as everyone thought.
- Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: Lampshaded; Tom Michaels discusses his wish to make a trade reminiscent of the RGIII trade with his Seahawks Head Coach Walt Gordon. Michaels knows someone has to be really stupid to agree with such a trade; when Gordon asks "Who's the most desperate guy you know?", cue the next scene to the city of Cleveland.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Sonny is forced to play this during the Draft after he makes his first overall pick, to ensure his initial choice won't have disastrous consequences. The aftermath of all these trades is as follows.
- The Browns get Vontae (first pick), Ray Jennings (seventh pick) and David Putney (punt/kick returner from the Seahawks) in return for three second-round picks (to the Jaguars) and (most likely) $7 million extra salary for Vontaenote . Essentially, Sonny turns three second-round picks into two first-round picks and an already established special teams player. Furthermore, Coach Penn acquires his choice player from the start.
- The Jaguars get three second-round picks in exchange for their sole first-round pick.
- The Seahawks, who wanted Bo Callahan from the start, acquire him by trading away a special teams player and get a $7 million discount due to drafting Callahan as sixth overall.
- "Enjoy the Draft"