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Top 11 Football Movies

With football season approaching (August 24th for college and September 5th for pros), we thought we'd take a look at some of the greatest football movies ever made. These lists can get heated, so please, take it easy! We'd love to hear your comments, suggestions for movies we missed, or what you're looking forward to this upcoming season. To do that, head on over to our Facebook page and add your thoughts and opinions. And while you're at it, think about stocking up on our always popular football schedule magnets. We've got lots to choose from with college and pro teams. Our popular "Peel & Stick" magnets ship in 2-3 days, and our custom magnets don't take much longer. 

11. HORSE FEATHERS

We’re going back to 1932 to highlight this Marx Brothers classic which saw Groucho as a college president. His son, played by brother Zeppo, convinces him to flout competitive rules and bring professional players to be part of the school’s team. In typical Marx Brothers fashion, the wrong players are recruited and hijinks ensue, including memorable scenes of a hidden ball trick and a horse-drawn garbage wagon as a chariot. Do yourself a favor and enjoy some Marx Brothers today.

10. WE ARE MARSHALL

A tear-jerker based on a true and tragic story, this 2006 film starring Matthew McConaughey recounts the story of the Marshall University football team’s efforts to rebuild after 37 of its players plus most of the coaching staff were killed in a plane crash. McConaughey plays Coach Jack Lengyel, who responds to requests from several surviving players from the team, students and the surrounding community to keep the program moving ahead.

While the film garnered mixed reviews, McConaughey’s performance was cited as a stand out, carrying the emotional weight of the movie.

 9. THE WATERBOY

One of Adam Sandler’s most beloved roles is that of Bobby Boucher, Jr. (pronounced Boo-shay), a socially-awkward man-child who is hired on as the waterboy of a struggling college football team by Coach Klein (played by Henry Winkler). After Coach Klein sees Bobby stand up to a bully (the team’s quarterback), he realizes his on-field potential, and Bobby serves as both a linebacker AND waterboy.

With an overprotective mother who bad mouths the sport (she calls it “foose-ball”) as well as Bobby’s love interest (“she’s the devil”) Bobby has more than the average number of obstacles to come. The movie is Snadler’s patented absurdist/dumb humor, but succeeds on sheer likability of the characters. Cameos include NFL stars  including Lynn Swann, Dan Fouts, and Lawrence Taylor, as well as actors including Sandler’s former Saturday Night Live cast member Rob Schneider, and Clint Howard.

8. REMEMBER THE TITANS

Denzel Washington stars as Coach Herman Boone, leading the cast of this stirring 2000 film based on the true story of the 1971 state champion football team from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA. With a corrupt school board, bought-off referees and a town in the midst of racial conflict, Washington’s Boone overcame myriad obstacles in guiding his team to success.

Remember The Titans garnered positive reviews and grossed over $160,000,000 in the US, making it a commercial success based on its $30 million budget. It is included in almost all lists of best football movies.

7. THE LONGEST YARD

While remade several times, including the 2005 version starring Adam Sandler, the 1974 original of this film, starring Burt Reynolds, is the standard for The Longest Yard cannon. Reynolds plays former NFL star quarterback Paul “Wrecking” Crewe, who lands an 18-month prison sentence for leading police on a car chase in the Maserati-engined car of the girlfriend he abandons.

The prison’s corrupt warden, played by Eddie Albert, has a semi-professional football team comprised of guards. Under pressure from the warden, Crewe forms a team of inmates to play against the guards. The warden is predictably ruthless and unfair in his approach to the game, and Reynolds’ Crewe finally turns on his star power to help the inmates win the game as time expires. We’d give a spoiler alert, but after four versions of the film it’s pretty public. Besides, it’s the journey, not the destination, and The Longest Yard delivers a fun journey.

6. THE BLIND SIDE

Sandra Bullock starred in this based-on-a-true-story film that follows the lives of future NFL star Michael Oher (played by Quinton Aaron). Oher spent several years in and out of foster homes before being adopted by Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) and her husband Sean (played by country singer Tim McGraw). The family helps Oher see his value and potential, eventually leading him to a college football scholarship and a fruitful NFL career, where he was a first round pick of the Baltimore Ravens. Oher has also played for the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers.

The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $300 million and netting two Academy Awards, including Bullock’s win for Best Actress.

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5. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

Before it was an acclaimed and beloved TV series, this movie about the role of high school football in Texas made a splash with its realistic football scenes and ability to translate another “based on a true story” tale to the big screen.

Billy Bob Thornton plays Coach Gary Gaines, working to lead the Permian High School team to a state championship amidst high expectations and constant feedback from the surrounding town. Future NFL stars Aqib Talib and Ty Law were depicted in various scenes.

4. JERRY MAGUIRE

Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Renee Zellweger starred in this film, which was one of 1996’s most popular. Jerry Maguire garnered five Academy Award nominations, with Gooding Jr. winning the award for Best Supporting Actor. It is the genesis for the now ubiquitous exclamation, “show me the money!”

The movie sees Cruise portray the titular sports agent, whose career is almost derailed were it not for the opportunity to represent Gooding Jr.’s character Roy Tidwell, a talented wide receiver who makes big demands on Cruise’s Maguire. Zellweger portrays single mother Dorothy Boyd, an assistant who joins Cruise as he starts his own business. The movie was inspired in part by superstar sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who consulted on the film. Trivia tip: the late Glenn Frey of The Eagles had a part in the movie.

3. ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

Al Pacino is the veteran coach. Jamie Foxx is the underdog 3rd string quarterback. Cameron Diaz is the young team owner looking to restore a storied franchise to glory. Pacino and Foxx are fighting for their careers in the volatile world of the Miami Sharks football team. This star-studded 1999 film was a box office success, and garnered positive reviews for its comprehensive look at the game and the business of football. 

Included in the cast were hall of fame NFL players Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor, as well as LL Cool J, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Ann-Margaret and Charlton Heston. Hoo-ah!

2. BRIAN'S SONG

This 1971 AMC Movie of the Week has become a classic movie that is best viewed with plenty of Kleenex to mop up the puddle of tears that all but the coldest of hearts will generate watching the film. Brian’s Song is based on the story of the real life friendship between now Hall of Fame NFL running back Gayle Sayers (played by Billy Dee Williams) and his backfield running partner Brian Piccolo (played by James Caan). 

Sayers and Piccolo were the NFL’s first interracial roomates, leading the way for the dissolving of further barriers as peole witnessed their friendship. After Piccolo helps Sayers recover from an injury, his own hard work gains him a spot in the starting lineup. His performance soon starts to fall, and he discovers that he has been stricken with terminal cancer. 

Brian’s Song was so successful on television that it was eventually released in theaters. The film won an Emmy Award for Best Dramatic Program, and has been cited as one of the greatest television films ever made.


1. RUDY

Based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, and his dream of playing football at the University of Notre Dame. Rudy overcomes subpar grades, a lack of money, homelessness, unconvinced coaches, and physical barriers to finally make the team as a walk-on, inspiring his team mates and the Notre Dame student body. 

The movie stars Sean Astin in a pre-Lord Of The Rings role that jump-started his career as well as those of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. A feel-good movie lacking in cheese, we defy you not to be moved and inspired. 

We hope you've enjoyed this list. Remember, there's still time to order our always popular football schedule magnets. We've got lots to choose from with college and pro teams. Our popular "Peel & Stick" magnets ship in 2-3 days, and our custom magnets don't take much longer. 

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