draft day2

Tonight if you really want to treat someone special in your life to a romantic evening, remember that Draft Day is now in theaters and available for your viewing pleasure.

Every time I see the trailer for this film, I have two frightening realizations:

  • Someone actually thought it was a good idea to make a movie about the NFL draft.
  • Many people are going to pay a lot of money to watch a movie about the NFL draft.

Making a sports movie that’s focused on an aspect of the sport far removed from actual on-field action is not an easy thing. Whatever the specific subject matter is, it has to be compelling enough that the public is curious about what it will look like in film form.

That’s why I think Draft Day will rake, because for three days each spring an important offseason activity in the NFL that’s still, well, an offseason activity trumps the television ratings for pretty much anything else (7.7 million viewers tuned into the first round last year). In fairness it’s received positive reviews, and Kevin Costner in a sports movie is usually the best Kevin Costner.

But the problem with a movie about the NFL draft is that for such a hyper focussed sports movie to be successful, like Moneyball it needs to document an idea or concept which changed the sport. The draft is just…an event.

It might be great. But it’s far more likely Draft Day will be added to the list of awful football movies below.

5. Rudy (1993)

This may cause some venomous anger, so let me explain.

On its own as a classic comeback, scrappy underdog sports movie, Rudy is great. But the problem is that critical details of what actually happened to Rudy Ruettiger at Notre Dame are warped beyond all possible comprehension. Key elements were stretched so far that they’ve now become part of the real-life narrative, and not the fictional one exaggerated by a screen writer and director.

To an extent the audience accepts some truth stretching whenever we sign up to watch a biopic. But that reality is easier to acknowledge when a film depicts the life of a person who didn’t need a mass-produced piece of pop culture to elevate their existence (people know about Muhammad Ali without Ali, for a random example).

Here, the movie made the man (he’s now cashed in nicely as a motivational speaker), and it did that while inserting an entirely false scene when Notre Dame players turned in their jerseys so Ruettiger could play. Joe Montana was on that team, and years later tossed more water on the Rudy legend during an interview with Dan Patrick:

DP: Were you there when Rudy was there?

JM: Yeah. It’s a movie, remember. Not all of that is true.

DP: What wasn’t true?

JM: Well, the crowd wasn’t chanting. No one threw in their jerseys. He did get in the game. He got carried off [at the end of] the game. [...] Back then they tried to play someone at the end of [the season] that all the seniors could get in the last home game. The schedule was kind of set that way.

So he got in. He did get a sack. And then the guys carried him off, just playing around. I won’t say it was a joke, but it was playing around. He worked his butt off to get where he was and to do the things he did. But not any harder than anyone else.

Not any harder than anyone else.

RUDY RUDY RUDY RUDY!

4. The Longest Yard (2005)

The first of our two Adam Sandler specials, this butchering of the original features roughly half of the WWE hall of fame (at one point Stone Cold Steve Austin was averaging 12 yards per carry, because he’s a real American hero), Michael Irvin, Bill Romanowski, Chris Berman, Dan Patrick, and Nelly. Seriously, Nelly has been in real movies. Oh and Peter King makes a cameo here too. Hopefully the Starbucks barista treated him well between takes.

3. The Waterboy (1998)

There’s a certain segment of the population — mostly those under the age of 30 — that hold this piece of cinema near and dear to their heart, and view it as the best football comedy there ever was and will be. But like most things from your youth, it’s now horrible, because that’s the natural life process.

2. Varsity Blues (1999)

Come for the iconic whip cream bikini. Stay for Billy Bob’s thoughts on boobs, and the teen angst declaration that cuts to your core (“I dooon’t want yooo lafffffe”).

1. The Replacements (2000)

From Keanu Reeves as your bar chirping, spiral throwing hero, to an actual song called “Heroes” playing us out as our white knight gets his princess, I’m not sure it’s possible to cram more 90′s into this barely not 90′s, um, classic. Some points were awarded for the Pat Summerall and John Madden commentary on the forever bond that is young love.