*Every good sports fantasy film has an underdog. In “Draft Day,” the underdog is Vontae Mack, played by “42″ star Chadwick Boseman.
He’s set his eyes on becoming newest cornerback for the Cleveland Browns, a team managed by Sonny Weaver, a tortured and somewhat flawed leader, brilliantly played by Kevin Costner.
Co-star Terry Crews, though playing the father of a draft hopeful in the film, is all too familiar with being underestimated. He told us his personal draft day story.
Crews had just finished four years at Western Michigan University on a full athletic scholarship. As a defensive end, he helped his team win the Mid-American Conference Championship in 1988. He described himself as a “typical narcissistic athlete” when in 1991, assuming he’d be selected in the first round, he threw a big barbeque to celebrate draft day. The first round picks were announced, no Crews, the day drew on, no Crews, the barbeque came to an end and the sun went down, no Crews. Embarrassed and heart broken, he sent his family and friends home. The next afternoon, in the 11th round, he received a call from the Los Angeles Rams offering him a spot on the team.
Vontae Mack is drafted much sooner than the 11th round in “Draft Day” but he, too, is underestimated by the league, overshadowed by star quarterback Bo Callahan who is a favorite among the teams for his superior athleticism and superstar persona.
“Draft Day” is a game within a game highlighting the intricacies of NFL decision making on a day when hundreds of young athletes are waiting for their futures to be determined. The cast is an interesting meld of actors and athletes, giving the ensemble a nice air of authenticity. Even the theme of women in the football business is explored with Jennifer Garner’s character, she essentially plays the salary cap manager for the Cleveland Browns, and is often the smartest person in scenes with her bull-headed partners.
And, of course the legendary Kevin Costner makes a triumphant return to the big screen with a masterful portrayal of a general manager who must balance pressure from his family, his boss, and the fiercely opinionated community as he attempts to build a team that will ensure a future of important wins for the city he loves.
“Draft Day” is a thrilling and heartwarming meditation on the value of integrity and holding fast to your dreams. The films open in theaters this Friday, April 11.