TOP 10 FOOTBALL FILMS OF ALL TIME
BY DANIEL SKIP ALLEN
1: Brian’s Song: Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) are teammates on the mid-1960s Chicago Bears. At a time when professional football still bears a certain amount of race-based segregation, the growing friendship between the white Piccolo and the black Sayers, as well as their wives, Joy (Shelley Fabares) and Linda (Judy Pace), becomes a symbol of harmony during the civil rights era. That bond grows stronger when Piccolo receives some shattering and unexpected news.
2: North Dallas Forty: A brutal satire of American professional football in which a veteran pass-catcher’s individuality and refusal to become part of the team `family’ is bitterly resented by his disciplinarian coaches. The National Football League refused to help in the production of this movie, suggesting it may have been too near the truth for comfort. From the novel by former NFL player Peter Gent.
3: Remember the Titans: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas, each playoff distinguished more grandly than any national holiday. And with such recognition, comes powerful emotions. In 1971 high school football was everything to the people of Alexandria. But when the local school board was forced to integrate an all black school with an all white school, the very foundation of football’s great tradition was put to the test.
4: Rudy: Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) wants to play football at the University of Notre Dame, but has neither the money for tuition nor the grades to qualify for a scholarship. Rudy redoubles his efforts to get out of the steel mill where his father works when his best friend (Christopher Reed) dies in an accident there. Overcoming his dyslexia thanks to his friend and tutor, D-Bob (Jon Favreau), Rudy gains admission to Notre Dame and begins to fight his way onto the school’s fabled football team.
5: The Express: Born into poverty, Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) overcomes many obstacles to get into Syracuse University’s football program. Under the guidance of Coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid), Davis becomes one of the school’s best players, even surpassing Jim Brown’s achievements. In 1961 Davis becomes the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy, but there is one more obstacle in his life that he must overcome.
6: Friday Night Lights: small, turbulent town in Texas obsesses over their high school football team to an unhealthy degree. When the star tailback, Boobie Miles (Derek Luke), is seriously injured during the first game of the season, all hope is lost, and the town’s dormant social problems begin to flare up. It is left to the inspiring abilities of new coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) to instill in the other team members — and, by proxy, the town itself — a sense of self-respect and honor.
7: All the Right Moves: Stefan Djordjevic (Tom Cruise), the star player of his high school football team, is desperately hoping that his football talents will earn him a scholarship — his only chance to get out of his dying hometown of Ampipe, Pennsylvania. When a heated argument with his coach (Craig T. Nelson) gets him kicked off the team and blacklisted from college recruiters, Stefan must fight for a chance to live out his dream and escape the dead-end future he faces.
8: The Longest Yard: Disgraced pro football quarterback Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) lands in jail, where manipulative Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) recruits him to advise the institution’s team. This turns into a lead role quarterbacking a crew of inmates in a game against a team of prison guards. Aided by incarcerated ex-NFL coach Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds), Crewe and his team must overcome not only the bloodthirstiness of the opposition, but also the corrupt officials trying to fix the game against them.
9: Concussion: football player Mike Webster (David Morse), forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) discovers neurological deterioration that is similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Omalu names the disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy and publishes his findings in a medical journal. As other athletes face the same diagnosis, the crusading doctor embarks on a mission to raise public awareness about the dangers of football-related head trauma.
10: The Blind Side: Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless black teen, has drifted in and out of the school system for years. Then Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and her husband, Sean (Tim McGraw), take him in. The Tuohys eventually become Michael’s legal guardians, transforming both his life and theirs. Michael’s tremendous size and protective instincts make him a formidable force on the gridiron, and with help from his new family and devoted tutor, he realizes his potential as a student and football player.
Honorable Mentions: The Waterboy, The Replacements, Any Given Sunday, Invincible, Jerry Maguire