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The Cleveland Browns crash the ‘orange carpet’ at Draft Day movie screening

Posted Apr 9, 2014

The magic of the movies combined forces with the Cleveland Browns players Tuesday night, creating an unforgettable evening at the box office.

Jabaal Sheard enjoys a moment on the "Orange Carpet."

The magic of the movies combined forces with the Cleveland Browns players Tuesday night, creating an unforgettable evening at the box office.

The Browns sent their own star-studded cast to crash the “orange carpet” at the first local screening of Draft Day. Joe Thomas, Brian Hoyer, Jordan Cameron and several other Browns players interacted with hundreds of Dawg Pound supporters, posed for local paparazzi, and learned how to take selfies, all before taking in the latest sports movie about the NFL.

Team owner Jimmy Haslam made a surprise visit, addressing fans on how thrilled the franchise was to host the cast and crew while they shot the story at the Browns’ facility in Berea. Even Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson was in attendance. The Valley View theatre had been morphed into the Midwest version of Hollywood.

The film, which opens nationwide on Friday, portrays Kevin Costner as the Browns general manager, steering the ship throughout the gripping spectacle the NFL draft process has become.

Following the showing, one local media member hailed Draft Day as “terrific” and quarterback Brian Hoyer tweeted, “All football fans will enjoy it, especially Browns fans.”

Motion pictures are often remarkable works of art. Each viewer interprets the experience differently. They genuinely can alter the direction of young moviegoer’s life.

It did for Browns defensive end Billy Winn.

The Program, a 1993 drama starring James Caan, Omar Epps and Halle Berry, depicts the ups and downs of a college football powerhouse. The passionate drama mesmerized Winn when he watched the VHS video tape as a boy. And it might have ultimately decided his profession.

“It definitely helped me get into football,” recalled Winn about constantly rewinding The Program in his VCR. “I would watch the movie and try and go out and whop some tail on some guys. It fired me up watching that movie twice a week, no doubt.”

For Joe Thomas, the movie that stands out from his childhood actually happens to be another Cleveland cult-classic. Major League is a riot comedy about the unlikely heroics of the Cleveland Indians, featuring Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, and Dennis Haysbert.

“The hilarious cast of characters are my favorite,” Thomas said while snorting laughter. “Pedro Cerrano, Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn … Bob Uecker was outstanding as the announcer.”

Athletes’ eyes continued to light up when reminiscing about films that helped cement their passion for sports. Jordan Cameron’s personal favorite is still Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington as a high school football coach at the racially divided T.C. Williams. Jason Pinkston fantasized about being a hockey player after watching The Mighty Ducks. Jabaal Sheard treasured the 2004 Billy-Bob Thornton classic Friday Night Lights, because it taught him an important lesson.

“They were an underdog team coming up and they lost at the end,” said Sheard. “Most movies never have that. You normally can predict the ending. That left me shocked the first time. And it showed making the championship still has a big meaning.”

Will Draft Day win an Oscar? Probably not. Will it gross $100 million? Don’t underestimate rabid NFL fans hungry for football in April.

But the power of sports movies can’t be measured in awards or dollar signs. They leave permanent impressions on the audiences that consume them.

And on Tuesday night in Cleveland, the experience soared to an even higher level for Browns fans as Hollywood and real life merged for a movie experience they’ll never forget.

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