The NFL granted the upcoming Draft Day more access than just about any other movie in recent memory. The movie, which uses real franchises, was allowed to film at the 2013 NFL draft and includes a cameo from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
But according to the film's star, Kevin Costner, there was one image that the NFL did not want the movie portraying to fans. Costner, who plays fictional Browns general manager Sonny Weaver Jr., told the Los Angeles Times the league nixed the scene in which his character is hung in effigy.
"I thought it was a real funny moment, but I think the NFL's really cracking down on fan behavior both inside the stadium and outside,” Costner said. "The idea of hanging somebody, for as funny as I thought it was, and as realistic as I thought it was, it was just an image that I didn't want in the movie. That was a small price for us to pay, but it shows that they were watching very closely."
It turns out Costner is right. The NFL has been taking steps to curtail unruly fans, and it uses a "Best Practices on Fan Conduct" manual to guide teams. SMG vice president Doug Thornton, whose company manages NFL stadiums in New Orleans, Chicago and Jacksonville, discussed the NFL's security practices with NOLA.com.
"We at a minimum adhere to the NFL's Best Practices and we are graded on that each and every year by the NFL," Thornton said. "They come in and they mystery shop us. That means they are secret shopping, they have undercover folks doing investigative work and they mystery shop us every year. They do an internal report that is published for the league and the security directors and owners."
The NFL stadium experience is already challenged by advanced technology that makes watching games at home easier than ever for fans. Having to deal with security issues would only exacerbate the attendance issue for the league.
"...[W]e want to take it from an R-rating to a PG-13 and that's what we are trying to do," NFL chief security officer Jeffrey Miller told NOLA.com. "We are making some progress and we know that from the fan surveys. We're not perfect, we're not done, we have plenty of work to do and we are going to continue to do that work but I think we are moving in the right direction."
While the effigy-burning scene may have been "funny," the NFL did not get to become a multi-billion dollar enterprise without some serious image control.
"I don't think the NFL would have grown the way it's grown right in front of my own eyes had they not paid such attention to detail," Costner said.
Below is a trailer for the film, which opens nationwide April 11.