Draft Day

17 December, 2012

The Blacklist 2012 edition came out today. If you don't know, these are the top unproduced scripts floating around hollywood, as voted on by "insiders."

I'm planning on reading, or trying to read, the entire list, but I will of course lose interest within about a week or two. 

The #1 script on the 2012 Blacklist is "Draft Day," which is accompanied by this logline:

On the day of the NFL Draft, Bills General Manager Sonny Weaver has the 
opportunity to save football in Buffalo when he trades for the number one pick.  
He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the 
lines between his personal and professional life become blurred.

Kevin Costner is allegedly attached to play the Bills GM.

This script was an easy, fast read. I sat down and read it straight through without losing interest. It has a hell of a pace, momentum, whatever you want to call it. I can see why it finished so high. I didn't know anything about the writers, but from reading it, I could tell they had a playwriting background, but perhaps aren't the biggest sports fans in the world.

It's a lot like Moneyball, in that there are numerous scenes of GMs haggling and playing mind games with each other. However, unlike Moneyball, Draft Day takes place entirely on draft day. There's no big payoff. As is said in the script, draft day is about trying to predict the future. With hindsight we can look back on great steals and big blunders, but on Draft Day, you have no idea how the future will play out. 

Sonny (Kevin Costner) Weaver, starts the day by finding out that his assistant who he is secretly banging (except everyone knows about it) is pregnant. They aren't excited and she plans on leaving Buffalo to go home and have the kid without Sonny's involvement. Great start for a football movie right? Nothing goes together like football and thinking about abortion. 

So then they establish that Sonny is kinda like Marv Levy's son. Where Marv Levy had made the team great, is a legend. Marv (though he's not called Marv), makes his son, Sonny, the GM. Sonny fired his dad after a couple of seasons, and his dad just recently died. The past few years have been marked by draft busts and disappointing seasons. So everyone in Buffalo hates Sonny, wants him gone, and is afraid the team is going to be moving to L.A. any year now. Top it off with an eccentric impatient owner who wants Sonny to "make a splash" and doesn't really care about winning as long as butts are in the seats, and you'll see what's at stake in this draft. 

Oh, and Sonny has a hot-head young coach (the script compares him to Jon Gruden), who he hates. 

So, here's the draft situation, and here's where shit kinda starts to suck.

The Bills have the 7th pick. 

Sonny really loves this outside linebacker who is compared in the script to Ray Lewis. So Sonny wants Ray Lewis at 7, and he's supposed to fall to 7. Ray Lewis guy is really great person, who we see being like a father to his sister's 4 kids. He's like the older, wiser, religious Ray Lewis as  22 year old.

Jon Gruden really wants this running back from Auburn, even though he was just arrested for getting in a bar fight.

The Lions have the 1st overall pick, and are going to take the consensus best pick in the draft, Bo Callahan, QB from Michigan. The talking heads on Tv say Bo is better than Elway, better than Manning, he's obviously the greatest thing ever, and the Lions are going to pick him, done deal. 

But, as Kevin Costner is heading into work, the Lions GM is calling him and trying to give the Bills Bo Callahan, the greastest thing ever, since Detroit "already has a quarterback." So Kevin Costner haggles with him and makes this deal. You ready? The Bills give up their #7 pick, plus their first-rounder for the next 3 seasons, to get the #1 pick and Bo Callahan. 

Okay. Let's stop to think about this. You've just used four first round picks to get a quarterback, that the worst team in the league didn't want. The Lions were calling him, trying to move down. Why? Because they already have a QB? But they have the first pick in the draft? What great QB do they have that gave them a 2-14 season? 

Okay, so in real life, if a guy came along who was better than Elway, it's possible that you trade 4 first-rounders for him. But, that would only happen if a bunch of teams are bidding against each other for the rights to him. But in Draft Day, it's a weird situation where the Lions are trying to sell the pick, and calling Kevin Costner. There doesn't seem to be any other team in the running, and Kevin Costner pulls the trigger on the trade without discussing it with anyone. Nobody. No scouts, no coach, just pulls the trigger after a couple of phone calls. 

So then there's a lot of excitement as everyone's thinking the Bills are getting this great QB. Although, Jon Gruden, the coach, wants to draft a running back who was just arrested, and Kevin Costner keeps finding more things to like about pseudo-Ray Lewis. 

So far, I've only covered about 30 pages of the script. There's some weird personal stuff between Costner and his mother, and Jimmy Johnson (calls him a madeup name), and how Jimmy Johnson is banging his mom...And of course, his knocked up assistant. And Jon Gruden is fucking pissed because he just traded away 4 first rounders and Gruden wanted a thug running back. Oh and the aging quarterback that the Bills have is pissed that they're going to replace him. 

So draft time comes and guess what. After spending 4 first rounders to trade up, Kevin Costner uses that number one pick to take...Vontae something, the Ray Lewis dude. He's a good kid, there's reason to believe he's going to be amazing. While there's reason to believe that this greatest QB ever, Bo something, is not all there, and he doesn't care about winning, thus he's apparently Jamarcus Russell. 

So it's a big moment in the movie, where Costner is all like, yeah, I picked the best guy, he's a good kid, head on his shoulders, gonna be great. But, anyone in the audience who cares about football is going to be like...wtf. You spend 4 first rounders to trade up to get a guy you were supposed to be able to get at 7. What the fuck?

Then Bo Callahan keeps falling in the draft. People are afraid he's a bust. So they stay away. The Lions, who were going to take him at 1, remember that foregone conclusion, now they're sitting at 7, and they might walk away with Bo, plus the 3 future first rounders. But...they wanted to trade out of drafting him, as if they knew he wasn't a bust...or that they "already have a quarterback."

So Kevin Costner is like, Detroit's gonna look like a genius if he falls to them at 7. So he calls up the Raiders who have the 6 pick, and since their GM is a noob, he's going to fleece him. Well, he ends up trading him this years 2nd rounder, plus their 2nd rounder for the next 3 years to get that 6 pick. This trade makes even less sense. 4 2nd round picks for a 6th overall pick...and you think you're pulling one over on him?

The Raiders GM takes the deal, partially because he's panicking, thinking that Bo is a bust and everyone knows something that he doesn't, and that's why he's falling. 

So they make the deal. Then Costner calls up the Lions, who have the 7th pick, and offers to give the Lions the 6th pick and Bo Callahan, in exchange for their 3 1st rounders they traded Detroit earlier. This offer makes no sense at all. In reality, Detroit would have laughed in his face and hung up. 

They didn't want Bo, they wanted to trade down from the 1 spot. Then, When the Bills spent all those picks to go up to 1, they didn't take the QB, they took an outside linebacker because he's a nice guy. So why would the Lions think that the Bills are going to take Bo now? If they want Bo, they could just wait for the Bills to pick someone else, since clearly they don't want Bo...

But anyway, Costner convinces the Lions GM to send him back 2 of the 3 first round picks, plus a 2nd rounder, to swap 6&7. 

The Lions then take Bo at #6, and have an extra first rounder in a few years to boot.

The Bills use the #7 pick to take that running back that Gruden wanted. 

And the real winner in all of this is the Raiders, who gained 4 2nd round picks.

So...the script is about the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing of some GM genius, who spends 4 first round picks to get an outside linebacker he could have had without trading in the first place. Then trades 4 2nd round picks to get a running back at #7. 

This is the story of how an idiot GM cripples a franchise for a decade...and then decides to actually try to date his assistant rather than let her move away...Or something.  

So, aside from all the draft dealings making almost zero sense, there are a number of weird things that show the writers don't know what the fuck they're talking about. For example, in talking about how the draft is a crapshoot, Kevin Costner and Jimmy Johnson are talking about how the Chargers GM got a bad rap for drafting Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning, even though all 32 GMs in the league would have done it with the information they had at the time....

Can you spot the number of errors in that one sentence? For one thing, the Chargers were picking 2nd. They didn't take Leaf OVER Manning at all. The real event was that many said Leaf and Manning were both going to be great and were about equal, and that ended up being dead wrong. So not only weren't there 32 GMs in agreement that Leaf was better than Manning...there weren't 32 GMs in the league at the time, since there weren't 32 teams yet...But that line of dialogue comes from a guy who was supposed to have been a head coach in the NFL at the time; he should really fucking know that.

But you don't really stop to think about the trades because everyone's too busy screaming at each other, whether it's Gruden (rightly) pissed about Sonny's idiot trades, or the other GMs constantly paranoid that somebody's pulling one over on them or bullying each other into making a deal. This script uses people yelling like Michael Bay uses explosions. Yelling equals drama right?

That's the script in a nutshell. It's well written. It carries you through the scenes, it gives you big explosions of arguments and people hating each other. But when you stop to think about just about any of the facts, they don't make sense. It's kinda like if Michael Bay watched Moneyball and decided to make a movie about GMs making trades. But the trades make no sense. 

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