Just when 2008 couldn’t get any more frustrating for San Diego Chargers fans, along comes a movie reminded them about some of their darkest days. Yes, you guessed it: Someone has made a cinematic foray into the morass that is Ryan Leaf and his unfettered failure at life.
That’s probably a bit harsh, but it’s also largely true. According to the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, “Leaf”, which will screen at the San Diego Public Library for the first time Wednesday night, tells the story of the former No. 2 overall pick’s turbulent career in Southern California and his eventual meltdown. You know, the one that famously included this ridiculous outburst against a reporter in the locker room and instantly became the test case for why you can’t always trust Wonderlic scores.
(Video of film trailer after the jump)
The writer & director of the movie (is it a surprise he’s also the star?) Tim Carr said that Leaf is a redemption story, which makes it particularly ironic, or appropriate, that it comes less than a month after Leaf was dismissed from his comeback job as offensive coordinator at tiny West Texas A&M University. The offense? Taking prescription painkillers from one of his players.
Even Carr has had to admit that Leaf’s final chapter, which unfolded well after filming for “Leaf” was done, took a bit of the punch out of his production.”That kills my redemption ending,” Carr said. Yes, we’d have to agree Mr. Carr.
As for the much larger, more significant question of why anyone would make a movie about Ryan Leaf, Carr — whose written and directed two movies and acted in “Rocky Balboa” — said that he wanted to do a pseudo-documentary about sports but didn’t want to create a “Rudy” story. When he realized that Leaf was only 10 days older than himself, Carr was sold.
“Believe it or not,” Carr said, in one of the more understated quotes in recorded history, “the Ryan Leaf story, nobody was jumping on that. I know this is a shock to you.”
Screenings of the film in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia have all been well received, but Carr has yet to show the film in California, at least until Wednesday night. The filmmaker said he’s hoping that San Diego natives can put their own name on the film, owning it as fans of a team who witnessed this mocku-tragedy in first person.
Not surprisingly, Leaf doesn’t make an appearance in the movie in person — Carr said that his conversations trying to get Leaf to do a cameo got progressively less cordial (we know, shock of all shock) — but there’s enough old footage of the worst No. 16 in NFL history to make a Bolts fan cringe.
So, will San Diego respond by taking the higher road in the name of art? Carr said he thinks it will, but you might not want to hold your breath, particularly in the middle of another season of high hopes crushed by poor execution.
“I was looking at all the (Philip) Rivers’ jerseys (in the team store),” Carr said, “and some guy walks up to me in the gift shop and he goes, ‘Hey, did you hear some (jerk) is out here making a movie about Ryan Leaf?’
“I hope that guy shows up at the screening.”