Genre: Sports
Premise: A football GM finds his personal and professional life falling apart on the biggest day of the year, draft day.
About: This script finished numero uno on the 2012 Black List. Paramount bought the script last year, but didn’t want to hold onto it for some reason, so it went into turnaround. Summit/Lionsgate, looking to expand their audience outside of the 15 year old girl demographic, decided to take a chance on it. Ivan Reitman, who just yesterday dropped out of the Ghostbuster reboot, directed the film, with Kevin Costner playing the lead. Co-writer Rajiv Joseph is a playwright and was a 2010 Pulitzer finalist for his play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. He was working on the Showtime show, Nurse Jackie, when he wrote this. Co-writer Scott Rothman sold his first script (appropriately titled “First Timers,”) to New Line, and sold a script called Frat Boy to Warner Bros. The writers were classmates at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Writers: Rajiv Joseph & Scott Rothman
Details: 107 pages

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Before I get to the script itself, which I loved, I have to say the trailer worries me a little.  What was cool about this script was the grit, the darkness, the way that Draft Day for a football organization was no different than when the team was down there in the trenches fighting for every yard.

Instead, the movie looks way more colorful and happy than the script. The message with that kind of directing is: “Everything is going to be all right.” Screenwriting is about creating doubt, about making the audience feel like they’re not going to get what they want. And the writers did that. Not so much with this brightly colorfully directed film.  I hope I’m wrong though!  Because Reitman’s got a great script to work with.

Everyone that I know who’s read Draft Day has praised it. And it supports this new theory of mine, which is that if you write a sports movie, focus on people other than the players on the field (unless it’s a true story). Because no matter what you do with the “big game” in these sports scripts, it’s going to come off as “been there, done that,” since every “2 outs in the bottom of the ninth” scenario has already been used up.

Instead, write about guys like the General Manager of a football team, guys we don’t typically know anything about (or the Coach, in Hoosiers, or the Agent, in Jerry Maguire). Find out what the biggest day is for that person, and write a movie about it. That’s what Rajiv and Scott did here.

40-something Sonny Weaver Jr. is the general manager of the biggest laughingstock in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills. Okay, maybe “laughingstock,” is an exaggeration. But the Bills aren’t very good, and haven’t been for awhile. The one thing they had going for them was a beloved coach, Weaver’s father, who Weaver fired a couple of years back. Yes, our hero fired his own father. And as we come into the story today, we find out that Sonny’s father has just died. It’s a sad day for Buffalo.

But as Weaver Sr. would probably agree, there’s no time to dwell on the past. Not today. Today is draft day, the day that makes or breaks a professional football GM. If you don’t pick the guy your entire city is counting on you to pick, you can be ostracized. You can endure months, even years of ridicule in the press. Draft day is a pressure cooker of the highest order.

Which is where we find Sonny. He’s picking 7th today, and pretty much everyone in the city and in the organization wants him to pick Ray Banks, a franchise-changing running back. But Sonny is looking really hard at a Ray Lewis-like linebacker named Vontae Mack (for those who don’t follow the NFL, Ray Lewis is one of the most charismatic passionate well-liked players in the game). Vontae doesn’t have the accolades that Banks has, so it probably won’t be the most popular pick, but he thinks it’s the right one.

Well, until he starts assessing his day, his job, his life. When you’re a GM, draft day is the day when you separate yourself. If you can pull off a miracle trade, a miracle move, you can be beloved by your city forever. And Sonny can’t stop thinking about can’t-miss-superstar Quarterback Bo Callahan. Problem is, Callahan is going #1. And Sonny is picking #7. But that doesn’t mean Sonny can’t trade up for him.

So that’s when he calls up the team picking #1 and does something unheard of. He trades his team’s first round picks for the NEXT FOUR YEARS to get the pick. That’s kind of like trading your next four children for a brand new 4k TV. True you get an awesome TV, but boy is that going to sting in the long run.

As pissed off as his organization is, AT LEAST they know they’re getting Bo Callahan now, a hall-of-famer in the making. Or are they? With just a couple of hours before the pick, Sonny announces that he wants everyone to find out as much as they can about Bo Callahan. “But wait,” they ask. “This is a no brainer. We’re picking Bo Callahan, right?” “Not necessarily,” Sonny explains. If they’re going to pay the 30 million bucks that a first round pick is guaranteed, they have to make sure they pick the right guy.

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When people talk about the best spec scripts they’ve read, they almost always say the same thing about them: they MOVE. A script that moves, that never slows down, is so advantageous in a craft packed with limitations. Readers are finicky people. They’ve read a million scripts and therefore need a high level of stimuli to stay focused. Industry folks are finicky people. They have so many things on their plate, that unless you can keep their interest with every single page, they check out.

Draft Day is PACKED with GSU. But ESPECIALLY the U. We have the clear goal – find out if Bo is worthy of the number 1 pick. We have stakes. If you screw up, your organization and the entire city will hate you (and you’ll likely be fired). And we have urgency. Sonny’s only got a couple of hours to make his decision.

That was the first genius move by the writers. See, if Sonny already had the number 1 pick going into the day, there’s no drama. They would’ve had 5 months to research Bo. By creating a trade at the beginning of the day, it gave them only a tiny amount of time to figure out who Bo was.

I also loved the mystery aspect of Draft Day – that Bo, the can’t miss QB, has a secret – that he has a weakness nobody else has picked up on yet. The writers did a really great job setting up the stakes of that mystery. They mention Ryan Leaf, another can’t-miss-quarterback picked the same year as Peyton Manning. At the time, many were trying to figure out which one would be better. Leaf’s career crashed and burned immediately and he’s now considered the biggest bust in American sports history. Sonny doesn’t want to pick the next Ryan Leaf. So he HAS to find out what other players are alluding to when they infer that Bo’s got a secret weakness. “Look at the tape” they say.

And the urgency here! What I loved about it was that we’re used to seeing this kind of cut-throat urgency in an action-thriller (you have three hours to come up with the money or we kill your daughter). The problem with that is, we’ve seen so many of those situations, that even though they’re TECHNICALLY intense, we’re bored by them. So the urgency doesn’t work as effectively as it used to. We’ve never seen this kind of urgency applied to a SPORTS MOVIE though. So it feels wholly unique. I love when writers do this – infuse techniques from one genre into another.

The urgency also dominated the story in such a way that the script practically wrote itself. You have the coach who wants to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW, the owner who needs to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW, the receiver who needs to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW, all of Sonny’s potential draft picks – their AGENTS need to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW. All the other GMs who want to make deals need to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW. Even Sonny’s girlfriend, who works as his assistant, needs to talk to him RIGHT NOW. Because Sonny always had someone to talk to RIGHT NOW, and because each one of these conversations were imperative, there was never a dull moment.

If there’s one thing I didn’t like, it may have been some of the personal backstory. I thought the stuff with Sonny having to fire his dad was a bit over-the-top and, ultimately, unnecessary. But even though I didn’t agree with it, the writers committed themselves to it and made it work. This was a really good script!

[ ] Wait for the rewrite
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: One thing I LOVED here was that the writers looked for every single opportunity to make this job as DIFFICULT as possible for their hero. For example, when Sonny gets the number 1 pick, fans start tailgating in the parking lot, chanting their excitement about getting Bo Callahan, putting extreme pressure on Sonny to pick Bo. Or word comes in that their current quarterback, Brian Drew, had the best offseason of his career and looks like a superstar. This makes Sonny wonder, “Do I even NEED to pick Bo?” Later, people in the organization tell him, if you don’t pick Bo, we’re quitting.  Pressure pressure pressure!  Things should rarely be easy for your hero because when they’re easy, there’s no drama.

  • 3WAYSTOPSIGN

    You’re right – the trailer I watched and the script you described don’t seem to mesh. I can dig a good football movie so I hope they didn’t screw this up.

  • angrygizmo

    Wouldn’t it make sense to do the research on Bo Callahan BEFORE trading away the team’s next four 1st round picks? It feels pretty contrived.

    • 3waystopsign

      I think that’s the point – on actual draft day there is not enough time and big decision have to be made on the fly. If they don’t take the deal right then the other team may well have traded the #1 pick to someone else by the time any research was done. This scenario seems very similar to the Redskins/Rams trade that landed RG3 in Washington.

      • Mr. Blonde

        But, you would know and be watching everybody, pretty much from the moment their Bowl games end. Even if you’re not going to take them yourself, if the teams ahead of you find something wrong with their picks, they may drop down and take the guy you’re looking at. So, anybody smart (and near the bottom of the draft) would be looking at everyone projected to go in the first half of round 1. It’s a large bit contrived, but if the script is well-written, people may be able to overlook that. It kind of reminds me of the Ricky Williams trade or, for a more recent example, the Robert Griffin III trade.

    • http://wordsbyevanporter.wordpress.com Evan Porter

      From what I remember of the script, it’s not like they didn’t know who Bo Callahan was. But they hadn’t done deep, intensive analysis of his film and background because they assumed he’d be the #1 pick and be long gone by the time he got around to them.

      Plus, the big premise of the movie is “we need to be surer than sure. we need to know 100% if he’s the guy” so they end up digging a little deeper than they might normally.

    • garrett_h

      It makes sense if you read the script. They had done research, but not extensive. And he basically had a gun to his head when the deal was on the table, so he pulled the trigger.

      Is it somewhat contrived? Perhaps. But remember, this is a movie. A lot of people thought the Death Star – the most powerful weapon in the Galaxy – having a very specific weak point that will destroy the whole thing with one shot was pretty contrived as well.

  • Fistacuffs

    Not a fan of the decision to switch it to the Browns.

    • UrbaneGhoul

      That’s a shame since the Bills had played in Toronto and rumors that they’ll move to that city. It would add some extra drama and there’s nothing wrong with being similar to the greatest sports movie ever, Major League.

      • Fistacuffs

        Yep. Plus the city of Buffalo is a lot worse off and in more debt than Cleveland I believe. That was one of the huge elements of the script. But Apparently more people will see a movie about the Browns than the Bills. Also, when this was first announced as number one on the Blacklist, didn’t they say it was based on a true story? It’s clearly not lol.

        • garrett_h

          The team change didn’t have anything to do with the popularity of either team. It was due to the same reason many scripts are changed: production costs. Filming in Cleveland was cheaper than filming in New York.

          Actually, regarding popularity, I’m pretty sure the Bills are more popular than the Browns. Neither team is all that good right now, but the Bills Super Bowl appearances (and subsequent losses) made them pretty popular. And familiar with the average person who isn’t an NFL fanatic, like me.

          • Fistacuffs

            Because Hollywood has never shot a film about a city in another state. And I don’t mean the popularity of the team, I mean the actually struggling of Buffalo as a city compare to Cleveland. That was the whole point of why the stakes were so high for the draft. I live outside of Buffalo, I know how much it struggles. Not quite sure about Cleveland but as far as I know the city is more well off than Buffalo.

          • garrett_h

            I can’t comment on which city is worse off as I’ve never been to either. But I’ll take your word for it that Buffalo is probably worse off since you live in the area. Congratulations! I think… lol.

            And yeah, Hollywood uses Toronto as a stand-in for New York City all the time. And Downtown Los Angeles is often used as NYC as well. But I’d imagine there’d be quite a bit of backlash from fans and residents in Cleveland if they filmed there but used the Bills instead of the Browns. They’d probably riot outside the Ohio Film Commission offices.

            Maybe they could have moved the location somewhere else? Filmed in Toronto? Or overseas somewhere? I dunno. Finding another cheap NFL city to film in was probably the path of least resistance.

          • Fistacuffs

            Very true. Probably just easiest to switch it to Cleveland. I mean how many people that go see it will even know it was set in Buffalo before right? I just hope they hit the theme right in the movie.

          • mulesandmud

            The production incentives were the bottom line, for sure:

            http://www.buffalonews.com/20130305/buffalo_loses_out_to_cleveland_as_x2018_draft_day_x2019_movie_location.html

            However, before we skewer the movie for chasing the numbers, it should be said that Buffalo and Cleveland are very comparable cities in almost every way. Depressed, blue collar, almost the same size, with super loyal fanbases.

            Ivan Rietman likes to film on location specifically because he wants the most authentic feel from a setting as possible; as long as it works in-story, I’m sure he’d prefer switching cities rather than faking one city for another.

            Also notable: Rajiv Joseph is from Cleveland.

          • Fistacuffs

            Oh is he? I wonder why he didn’t set the film in Cleveland to begin with?

          • UrbaneGhoul

            My friend was in Buffalo on his way to Niagara Falls and he told me how depressed he was seeing the city. If the movies good, then it doesn’t matter but I feel like there is something lost when you switch to a city with multiple sports teams.

            For Buffalo, there is just the Bills. When their down, the whole city is down. At least, in a story. Football is king and I even though they haven’t been good in so long, the Browns have always been the most popular team, the city still has baseball and basketball. There’s that community aspect that really matters.

          • Fistacuffs

            Yeah I’m from Niagara Falls. On the Canada side though. But I used to go to Buffalo a few times a month since it was only about a 25 minute drive. Much closer than Toronto. My dad used to have season tickets for the Sabres, considering they were way cheaper than Leaf tickets. I feel like the Browns don’t have that desire to move whatsoever. Whereas in Buffalo, there’s constantly talk for them moving. Especially once Ralph Wilson dies.

          • Somersby

            “For Buffalo, there is just the Bills”
            …There’s the Sabres too, don’t forget. Dead last in the league, but they’re still a pro team in Buffalo. But you’re right. They don’t have anywhere near the fanbase as the Bills.

          • UrbaneGhoul

            lol, I completely forgot about hockey.

  • Linkthis83

    I agree regarding the trailer. I wonder if the NFL had any influence in the translation from script to screen. I could see them making some demands in exchange for more access for the filmmakers.

    “What I learned: One thing I LOVED here was that the writers looked for every single opportunity to make this job as DIFFICULT as possible for their hero. For example, when Sonny gets the number 1 pick, fans start tailgating in the parking lot, chanting their excitement about getting Bo Callahan, putting extreme pressure on Sonny to pick Bo.”

    I think these types of story details happen naturally when you have STORY accountability and consequences for character/story choices.

  • http://wordsbyevanporter.wordpress.com Evan Porter

    I loved this script. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to make this work, but this is truly masterful storytelling on display.

    I particularly love the little mystery surrounding why Mack thinks Bo Callahan is going to be a bust. That was one detail that really stood out to me and had me clamoring to turn the page to find out.

    • Ted

      Please send me the script! Would love to read… thanks.
      tnus222@yahoo.com

    • http://www.stubbdog.com lorenavp

      if you still have the script, would you send it to me when you get a chance? thanks! lorenavp@stubbdog.com

  • ScottStrybos

    I survived Draft Day at Sports Night.

  • Michael Abdul-Qawi

    I hope that the trailer is misleading and the film is darker like the script.

    • gonzorama

      It needs cabbage.

  • garrett_h

    It’s funny, I saw the trailer for this last night and literally shook my head. It looked like a Lifetime movie for crissakes. All shiny and glossy, and even a cameo by Puff Daddy. WTF is he doing in this movie?

    I’m also a little worried about the casting. Costner is a great actor, but I just don’t see him pulling off the wheeling and dealing salesman. He’s the quiet, thoughtful type. Hopefully he nails it.

    The timing is questionable too IMO. Most people haven’t thought about football in weeks. It comes out a month before the actual NFL Draft though. Maybe they’re hoping to open decent, then get a boost on Draft Weekend? I dunno. I would have rather seen it open during football season. Perhaps they figured the football fans would be too busy watching actual football instead of going to the movies though.

    As for the script, it was one of my favorites that I read last year. Carson’s review pretty much sums up my thoughts. The only thing I didn’t quite like was the end. It was a bit over the top for me, and kinda treacly, but it works. And a couple things happen that would NEVER happen in real life. But I’m a football fanatic, and I understand this is a movie, plus it moved so fast I didn’t really pause to think about it. Kinda like the whole Refrigerator Question thing. So I think they’ll be OK.

    • Randy Williams

      Yeah, wondered too about the timing. The last big football movie I recall is Sandra Bullock’s “The Blind Side” and that opened in late November.

      I’m a big football fan. Televised football actually teaches a few things about screenwriting. The most important is that reaction is sometimes more interesting than action.

      Speaking of a “refrigerator” I’ve just completed a first draft of my thriller. At this point, it’s short & lean for purposes of that some of you guys might read it all, supply me some notes that will booster its chances in the AOW lottery.

      Logline: (tagline, more like it) Three women, a refrigerator. Each holds more than you can imagine.

      Drop me your email at touchthermo@gmail.com for a PDF, thanks.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Is it called Volver 2?

        • Randy Williams

          That was actually my first choice, but I’ve yet to see a foreign language title chosen for AOW. (there may have been one, but I missed it or it wasn’t in English)

  • Ambrose*

    I enjoyed the script when I read it a few months ago but not nearly as much as you, Carson.
    I thought it was good but not anything close to great.

    The trade of a team’s next FOUR Number 1 draft picks to move up in the draft is pretty far-fetched. No, I’ll go even farther and say, it’s ludicrous.
    Any GM who gives up his team’s next 4 years worth of 1st round draft picks would probably be run out of town. Regardless of which player is chosen.
    No college player is a sure thing in the NFL – I don’t care who the player is – and mortgaging a franchise’s future is a huge gamble under the best circumstances.

    Mike Ditka made the dumbest move in NFL Draft history by announcing beforehand that he’d trade all of his team’s draft choices for the opportunity to draft Ricky Williams.
    Talk about a lack of leverage in negotiations!

    And as history has shown, that didn’t have anywhere near the positive impact for the Saints that it was intended to have. (It didn’t work out too well initially for Williams either, after his choice of agents had him sign a heavily incentive-laden contract, if I remember correcftly.)

    I know, the QB position is a lot more important to an NFL team. But still, the price for that #1 draft pick that the Bills (now Browns) GM is willing to pay was hard for me to believe, and it had an effect on the rest of the plausibility of the script.

    The other major problem I had with the script was the phone calls between the GM and some of the college players on the day of the draft. It didn’t seem believable.
    Football is my favorite sport by far and I’ve followed it for decades. I don’t claim to have any special inside knowledge of draft day protocol, but as far as I know there are no personal communications between the GM and any college players in the hours leading up to the draft.

    I’m not sure iif there are any NFL rules prohibiting contact or if teams just don’t want to tip their hand by calling a certain player but those phone calls to prospective draft picks rang false (at high volume) for this lifelong football fan.

    And I disagree with you wholeheartedly, Carson, on the urgency (the U that you stressed in your review) about only having a couple of hours to find out everything they can on Bo Callahan.

    The NFL is a multi-billion dollar business. Nothing is left to chance. Every player – but especially the first rounders and most especially the guys expected to go in the Top 10 – are scrutinized beyond belief.
    Even if your team goes into the draft with the #7 pick and is expected not to have a chance at the presumed #1 pick, the franchise-making QB, all teams have done their due dilligence on the top guys.

    Could there possibly be some hidden fact that emerges at the last minute? Possible but not likely.
    When an owner is paying millions of dollars to unproven (at NFL level) commodities you can bet they know more about the players than everybody but the NSA.

    I was also less then blown away by the ending. It almost seemed a little anti-climatic to me.
    A big buildup but no great payoff.

    I know there are those who enjoyed the script a lot more than me. And people who don’t follow football closely will probably enjoy the movie because of all the flash and behind-the-scenes intrigue but the script left me wanting more.
    It’s probably a step above most sports-themed movies – if only because it’s not about what takes place on the field- so it will probably be a boxoffice hit.

    Coincidentally, I watched North Dallas Forty again a few days ago and for any football fans who want a grittier, more down-in-the-trenches look at the pro game, I suggest you give that movie a look.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Didn’t read the script but agree that the idea of trading 4 future No. 1’s for one pick is a stretch. As for calling prospective draft picks on the day of the draft, there are no rules prohibiting it because the players have all declared and have agents representing them at this point. I do think any conversation between player/GM would have already taken place at the NFL combine or the weeks leading up to draft day. But some artistic license needs to be taken in this regard in order to build tension, so it’s understandable. And you make a great point about how there would be no last minute information to be gleaned regarding all the top players in the draft.

      • drifting in space

        It’s happened a few times. Most recently with RGIII, where the Redskins gave up 3 first rounders and a second rounder to get the #2 pick.

        Or when Ditka gave up SIX draft picks for Ricky Williams.

    • David Sarnecki

      This sounds like throwing the baby out with the bath water. In Warrior, there are fighters who compete in multiple fights PER NIGHT. That’s insane. Yet, it doesn’t ruin the experience for me. If the script is good, then sometimes you have to let stuff slide.

    • Jonathan Soens

      It’s been months since I read the script, so I don’t remember all the specifics, but I remember rolling my eyes at a lot of the football-specific things the writing seemed to get wrong.

      Unrealistic trades and false-feeling ticking clocks were a problem for me.

      A competent front office will have run drills (or mock drafts) to explore all the scenarios, and they’d have researched all the “top” players so if the top guys unexpectedly fell in their lap, they’d have done the legwork to know whether to pick them or not. I understand it makes for a more compelling movie sequence for a team to be racing against the clock, doing last-minute research on a player. But by writing that kind of stuff into the script, they effectively made the main character incompetent and horrible at his job because he didn’t do basic research that even the worst NFL teams’ front offices know to do.

      Also, the NFL changed the way rookies are paid a few years ago. The top picks no longer get crazy contracts that cripple the franchise if the player turns out to be a bust. Kind of undermines the stakes involved. This would have been more dramatic 10 years ago when the top pick was signed to a contract so big, he basically had to become a Hall of Famer to be worth it.

  • wlubake

    “for those who don’t follow the NFL, Ray Lewis is one of the most charismatic passionate well-liked players in the game”

    EDIT: “for those who don’t follow the NFL, Ray Lewis was accused of murder and danced like a chicken before every game”

    • Poe_Serling

      Sounds like I need to buy someone a tall, frosty mug of Iron City!

      • wlubake

        I’m no Steeler’s guy. Giants. It’s the 2000 Super Bowl woodshed job that I’m still walking crooked from. Hate the Ravens.

        • ximan

          A fellow G-Man! :)

          #NYG4L

    • Wes Mantooth

      And don’t forget the crying.

  • wlubake

    4 first rounders isn’t far off. In 2012, the Washington Redskins moved from #6 to #2 to select Robert Griffin the 3rd. They spent their 2012 1st round pick, their 2012 2nd round pick, their 2013 1st round pick and their 2014 1st round pick. Thus, the difference between that trade and this one is:

    1. The fictional team is moving 2 extra spots all the way to #1 from #7.

    2. The fiction team is giving the equivalent of the 2015 first round pick, instead of the 2012 second round pick.

    NFL teams use a relatively standard chart to value draft picks. The first overall pick is worth 3,000 points on the chart. For reference, the 7th overall pick is worth exactly 1/2 that.

    Teams generally assume for future picks that (1) the pick will be in the middle of the round (16th), and (2) that next year’s pick is worth 1/2 as much as it would be this year.

    Thus, next year’s first round pick is worth about 500 points. Even if you keep that same value for the two following years (it likely goes down), then you break even on the trade:
    1,500 + 500 + 500 + 500 = 3,000.

    The truth is that Sonny may actually GET value in this trade.

    • Ambrose*

      I’m aware of the Griffin trade.
      While it’s true that giving up four first round picks is possible and the Redskins gave up three first rounders (crazy in my book) that whole points system for the draft that the NFL came up with years ago is lunacy in my opinion

      Trying to come up with some mathematical equation for valuing trades is a fool’s game.
      Among other factors, team injuries, contract years (amazing how some players play a helluva lot harder when their contract is about to end), and free agent signings, can completely negate the supposed value of a future draft pick given or received in a trade.
      Worst-to-first and first-to-worst are equally possible in the standings.

      So you can throw the points out the window when it comes to Sonny.
      If his #1 pick doesn’t help the team to a Super Bowl win – or, for that severe cost, multiple championships – he’s given up WAY too much, and hurt his team in the foreseeable future.
      So I don’t buy your point that he “may actually GET value in this trade.”
      The only points that are important are the ones the team scores on the field.

      Owners and fans don’t care if a GM ends up with more POINTS in a trade of draft picks.
      It’s what happens on the field with the players chosen.that matters.
      Any discussion of draft “points” is quickly forgotten

      And has been proven over the years, you don’t have to have a first round QB to win championships (Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, this year’s Super Bowl winning QB, Russell Wilson, to name a few).

      And Carson’s example of Ryan Leaf as the poster bowl for busts shows what can happen to hyped prospects.

      That’s not to say that some desperate coach or GM wouldn’t trade four first rounders (thank God Mike Ditka is off the field and in the studio now) but I just think that this script would have been more believable if the cost for Sonny to make the trade would have been less than four first round picks.

      Of course, I also accept that others’ views, such as yours, on the subject are valid so to each his own.

      • wlubake

        I agree that the chart is outdated, but for different reasons. The new labor agreement capped the contracts of first round picks, thus reducing the risk associated with a “bust” like Leaf or Jamarcus Russell. So I’d argue the first overall pick is worth more now than it was when the chart was made.
        Of course there are talent fluctuations, too. Last year’s first overall pick (Eric Fisher) would have graded out to about the 3rd best offensive tackle prospect this year. That is good for about 10th in this draft. Thus, in theory, you likely couldn’t find a team willing to pay full chart value for the first overall pick last year.
        I also hear what you are saying, in terms of what it does to your team. I cheer for a team that made a move like this (though a smaller leap). The New York Giants gave up 3 picks in 2004 (1st, 3rd and 5th) plus their first round pick in 2005 to get Eli Manning. The key to success when you make a move like this is that you have to get core players from the 2nd and 3rd rounds (where GM’s really show what they are worth).
        But this raises the bigger issue raised elsewhere. If you aren’t 100% on the guy at #1, you never make this trade. So them still doing research after making the trade – no way.

        • mulesandmud

          I feel like I’m listening to cosmologists debate the origins of the universe. As soon as someone posted an equation, I started sweating. (It was arithmetic, I know, but still.)

          Is this what comment sections look like on NFL.com?

          • wlubake

            Oh god no. You have to look hard to find a sports blog where the readers have this reasoned of discussion. NFL.com, ProFootballTalk, and your local beat writer blog won’t cut it. For the Giants, I go to a site called Giants101.com where the average reader has a much higher football IQ. But yes, sports analytics and numbers are a huge part of the fan experience now.

        • Ambrose*

          Maybe the only thing I value less than the draft pick point system is the NFL’s QB Passer Rating system with it’s “Perfect Rating”, which is anything but.

  • klmn

    …”The urgency also dominated the story in such a way that the script practically wrote itself. You have the coach who wants to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW, the owner who needs to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW, the receiver who needs to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW, all of Sonny’s potential draft picks – their AGENTS need to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW. All the other GMs who want to make deals need to talk to Sonny RIGHT NOW. Even Sonny’s girlfriend, who works as his assistant, needs to talk to him RIGHT NOW. Because Sonny always had someone to talk to RIGHT NOW, and because each one of these conversations were imperative, there was never a dull moment.”

    Sounds like a whole lotta talkin’ goin on. I looked at the trailer and it too is mostly talk, with a few shots of game footage.

    Maybe it’s okay for people into fantasy football.

    • wlubake

      I think there is enough love of football here to get this movie to do ok. It isn’t just the fantasy football players who tune in for the draft. Truth is that I’d rather watch a documentary with full access to a real GM on the day of the draft. I’m a football junky, though. This will also suffer from the football junkies who call B.S. on stuff that isn’t realistic, so its a double-edged sword.
      Foreign box office should be terrible, btw. Why would they care?

  • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

    Kevin Costner AND Jennifer Garner in a movie together–and a sports drama at that! Count me in right there. HUGE fan of the sports rom-com. Hopefully this will be a good one.

  • JW

    This is likely a good script, unfortunately the film will make no money. If Costner’s last 2 films, the Jack Ryan co-star with Mr. Star Trek himself and then what was the other one where he played Bourne’s grandfather, oh that’s right, 3 Days to Kill, or some crap like that, are any box office indicators… sorry, but you mix in a washed out actor and a sports film and you have the recipe for one thing and one thing only… and I don’t even need to say it… I’m sure Costner can rebound in some way if he finds himself in an amazing film, but as for present, toast…

    • David Sarnecki

      If it’s a good movie that gets good word of mouth it will do just fine. Good movie sometimes trumps everything.

      • JW

        Let’s just be clear here… this wouldn’t make any money if it was the next Titanic. It’s opening 1 week after Captain America (where everyone will be for about the first 3 weeks). It’s opening the same day as Oculus, Rio 2 and a couple other smaller, more older crowd targeted films with bigger names. If this cracks the top 5 at the box office on its opening weekend I’d shit my pants.

        • David Sarnecki

          Can I get that in writing? As in you’ll film a video of you shitting yourself if it cracks the top 5?

          • JW

            ahahahah! Actually, I think that would be hard because it would happen spontaneously as I viewed the box office! I appreciate the offer though. And again, it really has nothing to do with the quality of the film. It may be a solid flick, but the script is only one very, very small part of what this film becomes and timing, timing & timing are the three largest factors, which run against this film IN SPADES!

          • David Sarnecki

            I see your logic, but then again strange shit nobody can explain happens just as often. I’ll wait and see.

  • BoSoxBoy

    If a major plot line is finding out Bo Callihan’s secret past, knowledgeable football fans may not find it believable. The scouting reports on elite college football players, let alone quarterbacks (THE highest paid players in the NFL) is so detailed and thorough, including family history, it’s not very realistic that the #1 pick in the draft would have an uncovered skeleton on the eve of the draft that is about to result in a team investing $30 million or more in his future.

  • wlubake

    Brad Pitt made Moneyball. You put Costner in that role, and it isn’t a success. The scene that stood out to me is when Beane is working the phones to trade his all star first baseman. There’s a manic energy to the way he’s eating, talking, calling, etc. all at once. It’s engaging. The scene is well written, but it needs the right actor to make it a true success.

  • BennyPickles

    I think you misunderstood. Carson wrote that you should focus on the people OTHER than those on the field, when writing a sports movie. Not that you should focus on people in general – that’s pretty obvious.

  • Breezy

    “the script practically wrote itself”

    I’ll have one of these, please. The SelfWritingScript5000.
    Is it available on Overstock?

    • wlubake

      If it existed, we’d all be wasting our time…

      • Breezy

        Oh how right you are, my friend

  • Citizen M

    I enjoyed the script, even though I know very little about American football. You understand that the guy’s got to take a big gamble on an unknown quantity, and his gut tells him one thing and his experts and due diligence tell him another thing.

    Keeping all the action to just a few hours of one day helped to compress the drama. Using split screens made it almost into a contained thriller. As a device it allowed you to bring in a lot of extra characters without having to set them up in their world. We get it. They are all GMs, maybe in their offices, maybe elsewhere, the location doesn’t matter.

    Some of the things I enjoyed
    – the feeling that you were getting a behind-the-scenes look at something the public doesn’t know much about
    – the mystery of Bo Callahan. Is he really as good as everyone says?
    – the tension. the clock was ticking from the word go.

    Some of the personal stuff felt a bit spackled on. Not essential to the story, but the writers felt they needed to put some personal issues in. Also, Sonny is a bit of a shit. Not quite the good guy you expect for a protagonist. And I didn’t like the ending much.

    From the trailer there are quite a few changes, apart from moving cities. There seem to be more locations, Sonny has a boss who threatens to fire him, someone else tweets vital information, etc. It’s not looking as good as the script.

  • 3waystopsign

    Can I just say it’s awesome that so many people on here have a clear love for the NFL? I know people who think my love for writing and my interest in the NFL contradict one another….obviously based on outdated stereotypes. I can spend all day reading screenplays but I admit I will shove everything aside now and then for a Football Sunday. I just read this script today and while it stretches credibility here and there it was a damn good read. I hope they didn’t screw it up.

  • YohannDookeyblue

    I’ve been wanting to read this script for a while, but it’s been an impossible find. Can someone please send it to ccomm77 @ yahoo.com. ? You would rule if you did so.

    Thanks!

  • Midnight Luck

    I find this whole script *Yawn* very Yawnervating.

    I saw the Preview, and can’t say it did a single thing for me. Sounds like from Carson and others on here everyone loves it (meaning Football, oh and the script). But, You got to get me interested by something else in a Sports script, long before I will pick up a sports script. This just doesn’t have it. Looks like every other Testosterone filled Sports related, movie I have seen and haven’t liked. Draft day just makes it even more focused on the inner workings of something I already have no interest in. So inner workings? Really have no interest. You can push the GSU to infinity and it doesn’t give me that special “thing” that will make me interested. A movie like JERRY MaGUIRE had me because of the Director, because Tom Cruise was an odd casting choice for a Cameron Crowe movie, it was a Love Story (most everyone here will go “EWW” now, but a Love story makes it a Character driven story as well) which raised it many levels. Football took a back seat in JM, but it takes a “Plaster my face on the IMAX front seat” in this one, SNORE. I don’t see anything in it that does anything different than making it a Big American Football Movie. No interesting ANYTHING from what I can tell.

    Urgency does not a movie make. Urgency on Steroids, well, it is still About Steroids on Football in my book, which is Boring.

    Draft Day is exciting? Nope. Only to people who feel that Super Bowl is the most exciting American Holiday ever. I haven’t seen a Super Bowl since, I think I was in Jr. High, and I was bored that day, but my friend had giant jars of pinched Beer from the Parents, so at least That was exciting. Have no idea anything about the game many years later, though I do remember being bored enough to go outside and run around with Cows instead, though the stolen beer kept the day fun, barely.

    So, yes, this one isn’t for me. As most of them nowadays on SS seem not too be. Too many Sci Fi and what nots for me. Spandex and Big Blow-em Ups, and too much of the same old.

    So, unless something ACTUALLY interesting gets reviewed on here soon, may have to check out officially. (I am sure a few will applaud).

    • Citizen M

      Think of it as a movie about Commitment. Do you go with the safe boy next door your family loves and points out his strengths match your weaknesses, or the wild and handsome studly boy that is out of your league but due to circumstance you have a shot at?

      • drifting in space

        Bingo. But yeah, sports movies tend to polarize movie-goers.

      • David Sarnecki

        Kind of fucked up to explain it that way if Midnight Luck is a chick. What? Women can only understand things through romance?! YOU MISOGYNISTIC MONSTER!

        ;)

    • David Sarnecki

      I don’t love football. I’m a hockey guy, so there’s a way in for me as a sports fan in general, but it’s just a well written script. Every scene is entertaining, every moment pops a little bit, and really that’s the best thing to take away from this script. It’s a sports thriller that doesn’t waste a single page being uninteresting or unengaging.

  • Midnight Luck

    I agree.

  • drifting in space

    As a huge football fan (of the stupid good-for-nothing Denver Broncos), I loved this read. The trailer sucked all the wind out of the sails though. It has no drama in it.

    I’d take the “assistant threatening to leave” out of the script. It was unnecessary to add any more tension than was already circulating.

    Everything else was great.

  • dawriter67

    Haven’t read it yet but I got a buddy of mine to slip me the script. It does remind me of when Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs traded TWO first round draft picks to get Phil Kessel. The trade hurt us as that 1st rounder went on to capture the Stanely Cup. Then in the third year, that 1st rounder was shipped off to Dallas due to his partying ways or so – meanwhile Phil Kessel contues to shine but on a medicore team. :-)

    • drifting in space

      Kessel is a beast but yeah, can only do so much.

  • David Sarnecki

    So… SPOILERS—

    What was the ultimate flaw of Bo? I feel like the entire story is building to a revelation, and I feel like you’re kind of just left feeling he’s… Off? In some way? Socially challenged perhaps? The footage review seems to imply that Bo has confidence issues, messing up after a big sack, and the phone conversation seems to imply he’s dim(faked his IQ tests?), or simply lacks charisma?

    I feel like maybe I missed the revelation, or perhaps whatever is off about him is just kept vague in order to be a little bit more realistic?

  • YohannDookeyblue

    Ok. As a. Person who KNOWS football very well, a couple of things seemed very off about this script. One – where we’re the offensive and defensive coordinators?? I’d change some of the scouts to them.
    Two – I guess I can buy the “whole four first round picks” move up because of the RG3 trade (as a Diehard Texans fan I wish there was a trade like that in the works for this years draft!), but he would counsel his staff about this first. Also, SPOILER – what he gets at the end back is 3 no 2s (I think) and Vontae Mack and Ray Banks….. Uh, he STILL loses those other 3 1st rounders! That’s not good.

    I liked that he fired the douchebag “Cowboys ” coach, and hired his moms bang buddy/ kind of father figure. I liked the urgency somewhat, but I also thought A SHIT TON of the conversations were unrealistic and explanatory. This was definitely “tell not show”. But since it was on the phone, I guess that’s okay?

    Finally, and this is for hardcore draft geeks, such as myself, LB VONTAE MACK was the no 1 overall pick to BUFFALO. It’s very possible (and it would be my choice after way too much studying on the subject) that LB KHALIL MACK from BUFFALO COLLEGE will be the no 1 pick to my Houston Texans this year. ….. Just thought that was a very interesting parallel.

    • YohannDookeyblue

      I’d like to add I’m on my IPad, and for some reason it won’t let me edit the post above. I’m well aware of the grammar mistakes (we’re instead of were etc.), I keep forgetting about the auto type feature.

      I’ll also add that the conversations between the GMs were always very hostile. Rick Smith (Houston’s GM) doesn’t strike me as a guy yelling “fuck” into the phone constantly. Neither do most of the other NFL GMs…Rex Ryan is not a GM.

      It seems like this movie would be more plausible if it were set in the early 90s or even 80s. Before the advent of things like the “world wide web” that provide a way for teams (and fans) to know everything about these prospects.