by Coop Cooper
With football season upon us, it is time to reflect upon (and revisit!) some of the best football movies out there. Whether they are about high school, college, pro… or prison, all are either funny, exciting, inspirational or all three.
1. “The Longest Yard” (1974) – The 2005 Adam Sandler version was a blast, but film fans know the 1974 Burt Reynolds football-in-prison movie is one of the best pigskin flicks of all time.
2. “The Blind Side” (2009) – Everybody remembers Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-winning performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy, the matriarch of the Tuohy family who took in the homeless Michael Oher. With the love and support from his new family, Oher beat the odds to receive an NCAA Division I scholarship and became first round pick for the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.
3. “Rudy” (1993) – A must-see for those in need of motivation, “Rudy” tells the true story of big-hearted Daniel E. ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger (played by Sean Astin) who didn’t let his small stature stop him from proving to everyone that he had a place on the Notre Dame football team.
4. “Friday Night Lights” (2004) – Based on the best-selling nonfiction book, “Lights” focuses on the desolate town of Odessa, Texas, where football is religion and the local high school team carries the hopes and dreams of the entire town.
5. “Any Given Sunday” (1999) – This one holds a soft spot in my heart as my first review for the “Clarksdale Press Register”. Director Oliver Stone’s stylistic approach to a football film featuring an all-star cast topped by Al Pacino as a pro coach in L.A. trying to keep his prima donna quarterback (Jamie Foxx) under control.
6. “Remember the Titans” (2000) – Yet another true story in football history. Denzel Washington plays a black head coach tasked with uniting an integrated football team during the desegregation of suburban Virginia high schools.
7. “We Are Marshall” (2006) – Based off of the true-life story of Marshall University losing their football team in a plane crash in 1970. Matthew McConaughey plays coach Jack Lengyel who reassembles a new team to rekindle the hope of those affected by the tragedy.
8. “Wildcats” (1986) – This groundbreaking Goldie Hawn vehicle set the standard for screwball, high school sports comedies. Hawn becomes the first white female football coach in an inner-city Chicago school, sharing the screen with a young Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.
9. “The Express” (2008) – This inspirational true story is about Jim Brown’s Syracuse successor, Ernie Davis (played by Rob Brown), becoming the first black Heisman Trophy winner in 1961.
10. “All the Right Moves” (1983) – This high school football film marks one of Tom Cruise’s first starring roles as a boy in a Pennsylvania steel town where his only shot at getting into college is a football scholarship, but his unforgiving coach (Craig T. Nelson) might be his biggest obstacle.
Other greats: “Brian’s Song”, “Necessary Roughness”, “Varsity Blues”, “The Best of Times”, “Radio”, “Lucas”, “The Longest Yard” (2005), “The Program”, “Invincible”, “Gridiron Gang”, “North Dallas Forty”, “Jim Thorpe – All American”, “Knute Rockne – All American”, “The Junction Boys”, “The Replacements”, “Leatherheads” and “Division III: Football’s Finest”.