Top Ten Best Football Movies

Football season is long over. Even the fill-in-the-gaps events of the draft, recruiting and spring football are done for the year. And there are more than three months until football starts back up.

One way to fill the long hours until football returns is by watching football movies. Here, in my opinion, are the ten best.

10. Wildcats
An underrated, but very entertaining movie, “Wildcats” is the story of a high school track coach (played by Goldie Hawn) who takes over a team of misfits at an inner city high school and turns them into winners. No, there’s nothing original in the plot, but there are lots of funny moments and great lines, and the football action is pretty good.

This came out while I was in high school. I went to see it with a bunch of the players from my high school team, and we were surprised during the football lecture scene when Coach McGrath was actually teaching them the same offense that we ran.

9. Remember the Titans
Sports has generally lead the rest of society when it comes to racial integration. “Remember the Titans” tells one of these stories. Based upon the true story of Herman Boone, an African-American coach named to lead the football team of a just integrated high school.

Denzel Washington carries the movie, although the ensemble cast is fantastic.

8. Friday Night Lights
Based on the H.G. Bissinger’s book by the same name, “Friday Night Light” tells the story of the 1988 Odessa Permian Panthers. Another rather dark for a sports movie, no other movie so accurately captures the intensity of high school football in Texas.

7. Invincible
A somewhat loose adaptation of the story of Vince Papale, who improbably made the Philadelphia Eagles as a walk-on in 1976. Mark Wahlberg shows that he really can act, and Greg Kinnear does a fantastic job as Coach Dick Vermeil.

6. Necessary Roughness
A ragtag bunch of misfit losers comes together as a team. That sounds somewhat familiar. It’s also very entertaining, even if it is predictable.

The Texas State University Fightin’ Armadillos have just come off of NCAA suspension, and must form a football team without the help of scholarships. A 34 year old freshman quarterback, a 6’4″ physics graduate student, and a female soccer player make up part of the team, and a lot of the laughs.

When the movies was filmed, there was no such thing as Texas State University. In the movie, however, Texas State plays Southwest Texas University, which later renamed themselves Texas State University.

5. Jerry Maguire
Yes, it’s a chick flick disguised as a football movie. But it’s also a pretty good football movie. Tom Cruise is very believable as a slimy sports agent going through a crisis of conscience. And Cuba Gooding Jr. is fantastic as the undersized NFL wide receiver who finally finds some heart on the field.

“Jerry Maguire” is at once a comedy, a drama, a romance, and a sports movie, and somehow seems to work on all levels.

4. The Replacements
A professional football players’ strike causes the Washington Sentinels to field a team of ragtag misfits and losers. While Keanu Reeves is the star, Jon Favreau as the police officer middle linebacker with anger issues, Orlando Jones as the lightning fast wide receiver who can’t catch, and Rhys Ifans as the Welsh kicker with a gambling problem steal the show.

Whenever I see the “quicksand” scene, I can’t help but think of Chris Simms in the 2001 Big 12 Conference Championship.

3. Rudy
This is a fantastic movie, that even has a UT-fan like myself cheering for the Irish. In fact, if this movie were about any team other than Notre Dame, it would probably be on top of the list.

“Rudy” is the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, a small kid from Joliet, Illinois who dreams of just one thing: to play football for the University of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, his lack of quality grades and athletic ability stand in his way.

You can’t watch this movie and not feel inspired to make the most out of yourself.

2. We Are Marshall
This movie starts by ripping your heart out, and spends the rest of the time tearing it into little shreds.

“We Are Marshall” is the true story of the 1971 Marshall University football team, who must start anew after the previous year’s team is killed in a plane crash. The stories of survivor guilt by coach Red Dawson and player Nate Ruffin, both of whom missed the fatal flight, are particularly poignant.

1. Brian’s Song (1971)
Don’t waste your time on the 2001 remake. Go see the original starring James Caan as Brian Piccolo and Billy Dee Williams as Gale Sayers.

Another example of sport overcoming racial barriers, “Brian’s Song” tells the true story of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, rival running back for the Chicago Bears. The rivalry become friendship when Piccolo helps Sayers return from injury, and they become best friends.

Just in time for them both to face Piccolo’s fights against cancer.

7 Comments on “Top Ten Best Football Movies

  1. Paul G.

    You forgot:

    1. North Dallas Forty: Nick Nolty, etc. First (in my memory) movie to start telling the truth about the underbelly of drug usage and ‘fix ’em up enough to play’ part of pro football.

    2. The Longest Yard: the original 1974 one, not the ridiculous re-make…Prison guards vs. inmates…football with a little ‘spice’.

  2. Brian Combs

    Didn’t love North Dallas Forty, but The Longest Yard is a great movie. Can’t believe I forgot it!

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  4. Jake

    What about “The Program”

  5. Jabroney

    I’m with Jake – Friday night lights was just the high school version of ‘The Program’ – and not nearly as good

  6. Doug

    “Any Given Sunday” ???

  7. Mark

    Def. need Any Given Sunday…Al Pacino was great in that movie….

    And I disagree with any Keanu movie making any top ten.

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