Gridiron on the Big Screen: Top Five Football Movies

Scott Fitzsimmons@@Chuck_SimmsAnalyst IJuly 21, 2008

Football is the greatest sport ever. It is the ultimate team game. Every person on the field is vital to the success of the game. Many movies try to capture that, but some are better than others.

Some even get Chris Berman to be in their movies! Well, most do.

The other day I watched "Necessary Roughness," and realized just how funny it was. It really is one of the classic football movies. It is somewhat realistic, and was knowingly exaggerated, but was quite funny even 15 years later!

After watching this movie I realized I wanted to put a list together of the best five football movies ever! "Necessary Roughness" was good and takes honorable mention, but doesn't quite make my list.  

I am such a huge fan of football, that it would be hard for me to not like ANY football movie. But there are two movies that make it into that category. Here they are.

No. 2 Bad Football Movie - The Replacements

Honestly, there were a few funny parts, and I think they all belonged to Rhys Ifans (the kicker). "I'm Wiry." Aside from that, there wasn't much funny to take away from the lack of reality in this movie.

There were some big hits that helped keep it interesting, but as football movies goes, it takes the second last spot.

No. 1 Bad Football Movie - Any Given Sunday

I take a lot of heat for this one because some people really like it. I was SO excited for it to come out and I was not impressed. Al Pacino was decent in his role, but not as groundbreaking as he has been in other roles.

The football players weren't bad, and I know that they portrayed some things that real football players go through, which was realistic. But there were two things I could NOT get past.

First off, I can enjoy different cinematography to try and set a tone, but the "chaotic" camera work really took away from the ability to enjoy the movie. Although there is a lot to take in when you are on the football field, it never even resembled anything like that.

Secondly, Cameron Diaz played a role that would never happen EVER! No owner would ever be the GM of a football team.

The owner has enough say to be able to control aspects of their team without taking on the role of the GM. It's a job that takes a lot more hours than any owner would want to put in. She portrayed the role well, even if I didn't like the character. Therefore, that role is not realistic in the slightest.

Good Football Movies

Honorable Mentions

Once again there are so many that are good that I can't have them all. Along with "Necessary Roughness," honorable mention goes out to "The Longest Yard" for being a quality movie that was pretty much groundbreaking for football movies.

True-to-life stories usually rank higher for me, and seeing Vince Papale portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in "Invincible" was pretty cool. Although the actual play that gave him his touchdown was much quicker, and not as exciting. But that's Hollywood for you.

"We Are Marshall" was a really good look at the history of one football program, and is worth watching even if you don't like football.

Now for the BEST!

No. 5 - The Waterboy

I know it's hard to put a comedy in here, but it will always be a movie that football players love to watch.

Of course some of the plays are not very likely to happen, but the hitting was unbelievable! The crushing blows and memorable dialogue will remain forever in the minds of football fans.

No. 4 - The Program

As for the reality of college football, I have been told by a former NCAA player that it is the most real to life you'll get in a movie. It is a great movie for action and hits.

It would have made it higher on my list a few years ago, but some movies have come out that have moved passed it for excitement value.

It is the highest-ranked fictional football movie, and that says a lot about the writers of this movie. They were able to gather a lot of information about the realities of football life in college, and portrayed it very well.

No. 3 - Friday Night Lights

High school football is HUGE in Texas. Everyone knows this from movies like Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights.

Varsity Blues was good, but Friday Night lights went a step further and it didn't hurt that it was based on a true story. They keep perfecting the action sequences, and the hits keep getting better!

Plus I LOVE the fact that...(stop reading if you haven't seen the movie)...they came so close but didn't win. I know it really happened like that, but it made for such a surprise ending. It was a perfect example of how a team can win if they come together and believe they can do it.

Even if your so called "Superstar" is done for the season.

No. 2 - Remember The Titans

This movie was so very close to being my No. 1 movie in this list. I actually had to switch it back and forth. It was that close.

The story of an all black and an all white football team being combined to play together set the tone for a lot of fireworks. The movie was acted very well by all the actors, and showed how the racism was affecting both sides.

It was a huge thing to overcome, but made both teams into one amazing team.

The football scenes were so well done, and it has the best football sequence and speech EVER to grace the movie screen. One reason why it was hard to drop it to No. 2: When the referees were trying to fix it that the Titans couldn't win the game, coach Yoast, played by Will Patton, calls out the referees at the risk of making it to the Hall Of Fame.

He then motivates his defense to play the game of their lives.

"I don't want them to gain another yard. You BLITZ ALL NIGHT! If they cross the line of scrimmage, I'm going to take every last one of you out. You make SURE....they remember....FOREVER...the night the played the Titans!"

It gives me shivers watching it every time.

Finally we get to the TOP!

No. 1 - Rudy

I'm sure the time has passed where most people are using Rudy references when motivating a football team. The movie has been here and gone, and there are newer movies that are used for that. Plus the real Rudy is probably not as sought after nearly as much for speaking engagements.

The fact is though, that the life story of Daniel Ruettiger is an inspiring one, and will always be useful for inspiring whoever watches it, football fan or not.

In making my decision for which should be the No. 1 football movie, I looked at the story, reality, and football sequences.

The story doesn't have to be a true story, but it has to be well done, and doesn't have to be ALL about football. Rudy doesn't get deep into football until halfway through the film, but it was worth the wait. The players were huge, and skilled, and made it look like you were watching a real Notre Dame practice.

That gave it a boost over the high school films, because adversity is so much greater to overcome in college.

The interesting thing about this movie is that in the best football sequences were in the practice scenes. The games were exciting, but Rudy really only got into the one game, and most already know what happened.

This story keeps you interested in the movie side of things, with Sean Astin doing a very good job playing "Rudy" and bringing him through the trials he went through. But the football scenes are also amazing, and make you wish you were right in the middle of it; even if you are the one getting pummeled.

It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, and it'll definitely make you like football a lot more when you are done watching this movie.

It's one for the whole family, and will inspire you GUARANTEED!

Going through these movies has made me think of a lot of characters that really stood out. So I will someday bring you a list of the Top 10 Football Movie Characters. Stay Tuned!


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