3 Stars – Thoughtful
American Football, like most professional sports, is as much big business as it is athletic competition. This is not the Olympics where athletes are competing to show their skills on a world stage, but it is about choices made about who comes and who goes from a team based on game strategies and financial decisions.
There are a lot of people who have a say in the process, but on Draft Day the order of the pick gives the winning teams a set advantage in choosing the best among the available new talent emerging from college sports. For the General Manager and the team it is a make or break day.
Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) is the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns who has to make some significant choices on Draft Day that will not only impact his team and his job, but also his reputation as the son of a former G.M. who was beloved by the Cleveland community. A lot is riding on Sonny’s skill and he bets on a deal with the Seattle Seahawks that gives him the number one pick. What he decides to do next gives the day its adventure.
Do you pick the guy everyone thinks is the best when you question his long-term ability to withstand pressure? Or, do you pick a lower level lineman that has a questionable past, but a potentially great future? Millions of dollars, the community’s reputation, and your job are on the line in a high-stakes game of chicken played out in front of the world from Radio City Music Hall in New York where the Draft Day picks will be made.
Others lives are on the line, too. Owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) has a lot of money at stake. Ali (Jennifer Garner) is the business manager of the team, but also the not-so-secret girlfriend of Sonny Weaver. The Coach, the players, and even Sonny’s mother Barb Weaver (Ellen Burstyn) all have a stake in Sonny’s choices.
Everyone can make an argument for why football is such a national adventure as a pastime of gargantuan proportions. An underlying question, though, is does the end justify the means? When is not telling the truth a lie, and when is it just an accepted negotiating tool towards a positive end? Sometimes it seems like a sanitized version of the old mafia line: “Nothing personal, it’s just business.”
Costner is the perfect person for the part, having excelled at emotionally understated sports figures. In some ways, he is typecast in the Field Of Dreams. Nevertheless, he struggles in Draft Day with real issues and we get to see the agony he experiences. You, as the viewer, will have to sort out its ethical impact on the American way of life.
- Why do you think football is such a popular sport in the United States?
- The economic basis of professional sports often undermines the nature of the games. Do you think this is a problem or just the nature of sports entertainment?
- It is well known that football shortens the lives of the players. Do you believe that is an ethical issue that needs to be addressed? Who do you think should intervene?