Sometimes fantasy can resemble reality. And some of the Atlanta Falcons players, administrators, their majority owner and some very lucky fans found this out Monday in Atlantic Station. The movie “Draft Day,” a parody on life behind the scenes in the NFL front office, will open April 11 nationwide. As one of the chosen few able to see an advance showing, I was able to take in the film with some of the NFL’s most prominent figures. Most, if not all, saw similarities to the real thing.
“It’s very realistic,” head Falcon Arthur Blank told me after the screening. “I’ve seen (Falcons general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) go through days like that or some version of days like that.”
When Blank says “days like that”, well, you’ll have to see the movie to understand exactly what he means. In simple terms and without spoiling the film, I can tell you that one draft day can be a lifetime to those involved in the process. The tight relationships between owner to GM, GM to coach, GM to potential draftee and GM to GM could each be a movie, or novel, within itself.
SILVER SCREEN REALISM …
While fans can be fooled about how accurate a sports movie is, players, administrators and the top brass cannot. They live it day-to-day. However, the gaggle of Falcons personnel at the showing was quite complimentary of the latest Ivan Reitman-directed movie.
“NFL fans want to get an insight into the game,” Blank said. “As far as what happens on draft day and some of the nuances and the pressures that the organizations, franchises, general managers and coaches are under, it’s pretty realistic.”
Falcons defensive lineman Corey Peters was entertained by the film, which received a ton of cooperation not only by the NFL, but also by multiple franchises.
“I thought it was pretty good,” said Peters. “Very entertaining. It’s good to see the other side of things and have some good interaction between front office and some of the players and that sort of thing. I think that’s a great viewpoint that not a lot of people get to see.”
Without spoiling any of the storylines, I can tell you that character comes to play in how Kevin Costner’s character (the Browns’ GM) makes decisions on draft day. Not many people know what actually is said in behind-the-scenes draft day phone calls, but no movie prior to “Draft Day” has been quite as accurate in displaying just how crucial character is in draft analysis.
“(Character) is always very important,” said Blank. “The culture is what underlines the franchise, and that’s true with our front office, it’s true with our coaches, it’s true with our players, it’s true in every part of our locker room. It’s true throughout. We pay a lot of attention to character off the field, character on the field and, obviously, ability.”
Another part of the movie centered around a potential draftee sitting at home with family, waiting for the call that would change his life. Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon saw similarities in that portion of the film.
“That brought back memories just being with your family and everybody is excited,” said Spoon. “It kind of took me back to when I got the call from the Falcons. It was pretty cool.”
THE NEW HOLLYWOOD …
Atlanta has seen its share of movies and shows filmed here in recent years to the point that businesses whose only function if to provide extras for filming have sprung on in the area. The city certainly has its share of major celebs in its midst, and the Falcons are no exception.
“I would say it’s up-and-coming with movies, they’re doing everything here,” said Weatherspoon after the sneak peak. “There’s a lot of opportunities. Hopefully, some day I’ll get a call to be in one of those movies.”
As one of the more magnetic and charismatic personalities on the team, going into the movie industry is a natural question for Weatherspoon in the future.
“I don’t know, man, I think I could do it,” he said. “I could remember my lines and act it out. That’d be pretty cool.”
Peters, who said he likes to live more in the behind-the-scenes world, will probably skip a career on the silver screen. “I’ve been invited to some things, but I’ve always turned it down,” said the former Kentucky Wildcat. “I don’t think so. (Hollywood) is not really my style.”