10 Best Football Movies Ever Made
Football movies have been a staple of filmmaking since the silent-movie era and are still being made today. Following Sunday's Academy Awards, here is a ranking of the 10 best.
But before we begin, I wanted to give a shout-out to Al Pacino’s "Peace by Inches" speech in Any Given Sunday. Oliver Stone's take on pro football had its ups and downs, but its high point was the best speech in sports movie history. You can have "Win one for the Gipper." I’ll take "Peace by Inches."
Now, let’s begin.
10. The Freshman (1925)
Harold Lloyd was one of the biggest stars of the silent-movie era because of his knack for physical comedy. This film about him trying to make his college football team is Lloyd at his best.
9. North Dallas Forty (1979)
Based on former Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Peter Gent's tell-all novel about pro football, this movie is not as shocking given the public knowledge of the pain pro athletes play through and how hard some of them live. In 1979, it was jaw-dropping and Nick Nolte's performance embodied the pain and disillusionment of the film.
8. Horse Feathers (1932)
The Marx Brothers play football. Get ready to laugh.
7. The Blind Side (2009)
With a box office take of more than $300 million, The Blind Side is the highest-grossing football movie of all time. Plus, Ed Orgeron, Lou Holtz, Nick Saban, and Phillip Fulmer play themselves.
6. Brian’s Song (1971)
Originally an ABC Movie of the Week, Brian's Song tells the story of the relationship between Chicago Bears running backs Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and Brian Piccolo (James Caan) as the latter suffered from fatal testicular cancer. When lists of best TV movies are published, this one always makes it.
5. Remember the Titans (2000)
In this team-up between Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Denzel Washington plays African-American head coach Herman Boone, who led the integration of an Alexandria, Virginia, high school football team in 1971. The football scenes deliver the goods, but the relationship between the players is what makes this movie special.
4. The Longest Yard (1974)
Burt Reynolds plays a former pro football quarterback who is sent to prison and leads a team of inmates in a game against a sadistic warden's (Eddie Albert) semi-pro football team of prison guards. While it is a comedy with many colorful characters, it also has the gritty feel of many '70s classics.
3. Undefeated (2011)
The 2011 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary chronicles the captivating story of a football coach turning around a Memphis high school program that has not won a playoff game in its 100-plus year history.
2. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Cuba Gooding Jr. won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing wide receiver Rod Tidwell, sports agent Jerry Maguire’s (Tom Cruise) sole client after he has a change of heart. Director Cameron Crowe’s best movie was the first blockbuster to delve into the world of sports agency, but it’s still a football movie at heart. Show me the money!
1. Rudy (1993)
The true story of an everyman (Sean Astin) who gets to play on the highest stage in college football is one of the best sports movies ever made and tops this list. It is also inspiring viewing for anyone hesitant to follow their dream.
— Compiled by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.