In a simpler time, Mike Sebeckis was known as Seabass, Deadspin commenter extraordinaire. A software engineer who has been living in San Diego for 2 1/2 years, he doesn't have much time to frolic in the comments section these days; although he is still a regular reader and thinks Baby Mangino is a lock for SHOTY. But when Sebeckis heard our request for someone to review Tim Carr's new documentary on former Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf, he jumped at the chance. Well, OK, I had to offer him free stuff. But he came through in a big way.
Come with Mike now as he attends the gala screening event with his wife at the San Diego Public Library (yes, that's where it was held). Among other things, he waited in line to get in behind a woman in a Ryan Leaf Chargers jersey, which she had purchased for her son, who had given it back to her. Also at one point Mike compares the film to an episode of Rescue 911. But I'll let him tell you himself.
First off, full disclosure...I live in San Diego currently but I'm from Indianapolis and a Colts fan. So the prospect of seeing a Ryan Leaf biopic was sort of intriguing to me, if only to pat my 'fan ego' on the back and confirm that the Colts made the right choice with Manning.
My wife tagged along (I'd like to take the time to apologize to her), and we arrived about 45 minutes before showtime, mainly because I didn't know what to expect as far as crowd size. I thought there would either be a huge line out the door, or we'd be at the front of the line. Being that this was a Ryan Leaf biopic, it was clearly the latter. We immediately got in line behind a woman wearing a Leaf jersey. She explained that she bought it for her 12 year old son in '98 when Leaf was drafted. The son used to wear the jersey constantly, she said, preferring it over a Seau jersey. I didn't have a response to that.
The "theater," which was really a lecture room situated on the 3rd floor of the San Diego library, filled up nicely with probably around 150 people. The movie kicked off and I initially thought, 'OK, it's kind of a mockumentary' with actors portraying Charger fans and sports writers. Not only were they unable to get Ryan Leaf to appear in this movie, apparently they couldn't get any actual fans to stoop that low. Then the movie veered towards documentary territory when they started interviewing San Diego Union Tribune writer Jay Posner about his spat with Leaf in the Chargers locker room. These documentary style segments were the best parts of the film. Hugh Douglas appears as "Himself" a couple of times, sitting in a bar discussing how one of the highlights of his career was sacking Leaf 4 times in one game.
It was clear that the director/writer/lead actor, Tim Carr, couldn't lock down any rights to use NFL licensed footage. This led to some very awkwardly acted, "Rescue 911" or "Unsolved Mysteries" style re-enactments. In fact, there's only about 30 seconds of footage that actually shows Ryan Leaf, and all of that was from his Washington State days. I found myself thinking, if this were a 60 minute NFL Films production, I'd probably be really into it. However, 82 minutes of Carr's production was too much, and people started walking out after about 45 minutes.
This will probably not make it to a theater screen near you, and if you see it on Netflix someday, I'd suggest staying away, unless of course you're a Ryan Leaf fan. In which case, you probably already enjoy inflicting pain upon yourself.
Leaf's Notorious Legacy Gets Celluloid Debut [San Diego Union Tribune]