Ranking the Best Football Movies

RUDY, Sean Astin (center), 1993, ©TriStar Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

This week, we take a look at the top four football movies based on subject – fictional teams, high school teams, and real college teams.

Fictional Football Movies

4. The Program

This movie looks into the minds of struggling college students, who will do anything to become a starting college football player and those who struggle being in the spotlight and just want to be recognized by their fathers. Many outside factors impact these players such as alcohol and drugs.

3. Gridiron Gang

The Rock stars in the movie and works at a prison where he pitches the idea of putting together and coaching a football game. These juvenile prisoners team up to face local high school teams.

2. The Longest Yard

Adam Sandler plays quarterback Paul Crewe, who winds up in jail for multiple charges. In college, he was accused of “shaving points” and costing his team big games. In prison, the warden asks Crewe to form a football team to play against the guards, as an exhibition game to help prepare the guards for their annual season.

1.  Waterboy

Quiet mama’s boy, Bobby Boucher, goes from team waterboy and laughing stock to dominant college linebacker. He used years of being bullied and pent up anger as his motivation. “Fonzi” aka Henry Winkler is the coach of this team.

High School Football Movies

4. Varsity Blues

In Texas, high school football is the only thing that matters. Friday nights are a huge event, especially in West Canaan, Texas, where this movie takes place. Coach Bud Kilmer will do anything, whether it’s putting his players at injury risk or threatening to pull their scholarships, as long as he gets his divisional title.

3. Radio

Even in a racially decided small town, a head coach can befriend a mentally disabled man who becomes an inspiration for the school even though he will be bullied and physically abused and lose his mother. True friendship can live through anything2. Friday Night Lights   West Texas is the pride of American High School Football. Showing the life of someone growing up in a small town where if you play football you are a god. Everything revolves around football and winning state is the only option.

1. Remember the Titans

Unbelievable movie with unbelievable actors. Denzel Washington does a great job portraying his character and bringing this story to life. This movie truly shows the struggles of the time with racial discrimination and hatred. In the end, this team overcomes everything and become “perfect”.

Real College Football Movies

These movies are all based on true stories.

4. The Express

In 1991, Syracuse running back Ernie Davis became the first ever African-American Heisman Trophy winner. This movie highlights the obstacles he had to overcome, just to get into Syracuse and play football.

3. We Are Marshall

Tragedy devastates Huntington, West Virginia in 1971. A plane crash killed most of the Marshall University football players and staff. As a result, school administrators attempt to shut down the football program, rather than rebuild it. Thanks to the student body, a determined Dean of Admissions, and a new head coach Jack Lengyel (played by Matthew McConaughey), they are able to become the Young Thundering Herd and bring the program back.

2. The Blind Side

This is a movie about Offensive Lineman Michael Oher and the impact he had on another family’s life. Of course in the movie, that life was Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw, but it was based on his real life development story and is meant to teach others about how to overcome extreme adversity and succeed in life. Oher did succeed in life, playing college football at Ole Miss and later becoming a first round draft pick to the Baltimore Ravens.

The movie includes cameos from LSU head coach Nick Saban, Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron, Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville, and South Carolina head coach Lou Holtz (among others).

1. Rudy

Dan Rudy was “too small” to play football. He wasn’t smart enough to make the grades to be a student at Notre Dame. But through perseverance, hard work and dedication, the ultimate underdog continued to chase his dream and stopped at nothing to achieve the ultimate goal of putting on a Notre Dame Fighting Irish football jersey and running through the tunnel.

What do you think are the best football movies in each category?

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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