The Jets Pulled Out of Ivan Reitman’s ‘Draft Day’ at the Last Minute So Their Fans Wouldn’t Be Pissed

How could they do that to Kevin Costner?
The Jets Pulled Out of Ivan Reitman’s ‘Draft Day’ at the Last Minute So Their Fans Wouldn’t Be Pissed

The NFL Draft begins today, and if movies have taught us anything, it will likely involve a ruggedly handsome general manager bucking his bosses’ authority and making maverick picks while also offering quick-witted quips and hooking up with a Jennifer Garner-type co-worker. That’s because back in 2014, Ghostbusters/nudity-filled Canadian art film director Ivan Reitman gave us Draft Day, a sports dramedy all about the behind-the-scenes machinations of a fictional NFL draft, focusing on the GM of the Cleveland Browns played by Kevin “Don’t Laugh at My Penis” Costner.

Clearly, Draft Day was striving for authenticity, hence the reason why league commissioner Roger Goodell appears as himself in the film, and the teams we see are actual NFL teams and not, say, the “Miami Porpoises” or the “Kansas City Regrettable Indigenous Stereotypes.”

Originally, Costner’s character was going to work for the Buffalo Bills, but the production had the script rewritten, shifting the action to Cleveland to take advantage of Ohio’s tax laws (and also, presumably, so that none of them would have to spend a single second in Buffalo). Similarly, while Costner’s rival team in the movie is the Seattle Seahawks, the initial plan was to have him face off against the staff of the New York Jets, with whom Costner makes a key trade for the top draft pick.

Why the change? Well, the Jets were reportedly all set to be part of the movie before they pulled out just days before shooting began. Apparently, the reason for the last-minute audible was due to the team’s real-life trade drama; while the plot of Draft Day involves a much-hyped young quarterback, the Jets had just drafted a rookie QB, Geno Smith, to replace butt-fumbler incumbent Mark Sanchez, and the pair became “embroiled in a quarterback battle.”

As Reitman told the press at the time: The Jets “were having something of a quarterback dispute, and the team said that this is just going to incite our fans a little more to criticize us, even though it’s all fictional.” So rather than risk pissing off any fans who might think that a movie starring the Waterworld guy was somehow a documentary, the team bailed on the production, and Reitman used a “personal connection” with the Seahawks to get them to fill in. 

Thankfully, this never happened in any other Kevin Costner movies — it would have been a real bummer to see him playing baseball with the ghosts of the Colorado Rockies. 

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