friday night lights2

Earlier this morning to (dis)honor Draft Day I went through the absolute worst in pigskin film creations. Now we follow up with the best of the bestest.

Ultimately any sports movie list is influenced by age, and in no way did I show that below with the exclusion of old classics like North Dallas Forty and Brian’s SongNope.

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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.

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mack again2

Out of nowhere the pass-rusher threw a right jab like a boxer. One second he’s running downhill and the next … BAM! He pinned the offensive tackle on his heels, with the blocker stumbling into his own backfield, waiting for someone — anyone —to help. The pass-rusher went through the tackle and turned the corner, pressuring the quarterback out of the pocket and forcing an incompletion.

That’s the norm for the 6’3″, 251-pound Khalil Mack, who is a specimen from the University of Buffalo. His abdomen is littered with a six pack of abs. His muscles pop off his arms like landmark sites formed from natural disasters. And his legs are thick throughout.

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Lately I seem to be contemplating the end quite a bit. The football end, first with Tom Brady. I’m not sure what that says about my current worldview, and I’m also not sure I really want to know.

Even if it’s just briefly, somewhere late at night behind a closed door in an office cave every general manager spends time in April thinking about the end for a superstar who’s either aging, or consistently absorbing a lot of abuse. Or both.

For Rick Spielman in Minnesota, the subject of his own quiet contemplation is Adrian Peterson.

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From his 6’5″ frame hang nearly 34-inch long arms, creating a towering pass-rusher that has off-the-charts potential. When his size blends with his athleticism and explosiveness, he becomes a rare prospect that’s arguably the most impressive in this May’s draft.

But there needs to be more to a prospect than size and athleticism. Technique and tools are necessary, such as powerful hands and disciplined pad level. That’s where questions start to arise with UCLA’s Anthony Barr, who can be one of two different players on any given Saturday.

He can be dominating or dominated.

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Because nostalgia is fun and so is the pain of horribly failed decisions, over the next month we’re going to fire up the ol’ time machine and revisit drafts. Unofficially this great journey started Monday with a not-so distant trip to 2011, the year of the pass rusher.

At each stop we’ll remember the major storylines, the busts, the bargains, the trends, and some other things that start with “the”. Today, 2010 is under the microscope, and conveniently that’s a notorious draft year due to the presence of a righteous quarterback.

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brady hat2

“Old” can be a moving target in football, but it’s one we still generally have pinned down. Running backs are considered old at the age of 30, which is why, if they’ve been handling a steady workload throughout their career (hi there, Chris Johnson), we begin to talk about decay at the depressingly early age of 28.

Wide receivers last a little longer, but as we’ve seen with the likes of Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco/Johnson in recent years, their abilities decline steeply at around age 35.

Then there are the quarterbacks, those weird, timeless beings. The most talented among them can stay effective well into their late 30′s. If there’s an average offensive line in front of him, a good quarterback won’t get laid out too often and add a few years, too. But arm strength still fades, as does the mobility or foot speed required to avoid a rush.

So, every year, the few teams riding a true generational talent at QB wrestle with a key question as the draft nears, and selecting an heir to the throne with a high pick is an attractive option:

When is your really great old quarterback too damn old?

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