The NFL draft has exploded in popularity over the past 30 years. But much of the drama takes place behind the scenes.
“Draft Day,” a film opening Friday that delves into the inherent intrigue of trade negotiations and player scouting, follows fictional, down-on-his-luck Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver Jr. (played by Kevin Costner) as he tries to turn the franchise around.
amNewYork spoke with director Ivan Reitman, who revealed a host of tidbits about the film.
Jets almost picked first
While the real-life Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks have the first pick, it was originally the Jets who were supposed to be featured. Nervous that being portrayed as the franchise picking first would bring negative publicity, the Jets pulled out of the movie.
Bills were first choice
While Reitman knew he wanted to focus on a team with a tortured fan base, one of the film’s co-writers, Rajiv Joseph, is a local Clevelander who was nervous about portraying his favorite team and pushed for the Buffalo Bills instead. However, the film had a tight budget and they had a chance to save money on production costs by shooting the film in Cleveland, so the Browns were chosen instead.
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster sent in an acting reel and impressed enough that Reitman was happy to work around his limited shooting schedule so he could portray draft prospect Ray Jennings.
Reitman said he heard Costner’s voice from the moment he started reading the script. While Costner was older than the script had intended, his age lined up with actual NFL GMs, making him a good fit.