16 Best Football Movies of All Time

16 Best Football Movies of All Time

Football season is here. The NFL Preseason is already coming to a close with the start of week one Thursday, September 8, 2022. The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to play the Los Angeles Rams. What better way to celebrate the football season other than with Classic Football movies? This list is sure to pump you up and prepare you for that Superbowl Championship party!

The movies on this list are full of drama and comedy. Some of them are based on a true story while others depict fictional characters in real-life situations. I hope these movies give you the kickstart you need for a new career or refresh those mid-season pep talks. These movies can be found in stores, at the local library, or on popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, Starz, Tubi, HBO Max etc.

1. Friday Night Lights

Based on Buzz Bissinger’s 1990 book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream. Friday Night Lights captures the outsized influence of high school football in Texas, while also being a really engrossing sports drama.

The center of the movie is about a great Texas high school football team that loses its star quarterback to a knee injury. The sad event took a toll on the team but they persevere under the leadership of his backup.

The Blindside Football Movie

2. The Blindside

The story of Michael Oher, whom is a homeless and traumatized boy. He became an All-American football player and first-round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.

3. Radio

In a racially divided town, Coach Jones spots a mentally disabled African-American student named Radio. While hanging out near his practice field Coach Jones is inspired to befriend him. After multiple interactions Radio turns into Coach Jones’ loyal assistant. Principal Daniels happily notes that Radio’s self-confidence is skyrocketing after gaining such a position.

While this is an exciting time in his life, things start to sour. Coach Jones begins taking heat from fans who feel his devotion to Radio is getting in the way of the team’s quest for a championship. I won’t spoil the ending but this is a great, heartwarming film with its depiction of how having a disability can change from tumultuous to triumph.

The Waterboy, best football movies

4. The Waterboy

In the movie, Adam Sandler plays the main character  Bobby Boucher. He is a 31-year-old man who is a Momma’s boy. The majority of his time is spent hanging around as the waterboy for the University of Louisiana football team. In the midst of a flashback about all the bullying he’s suffered over the years, Bobby viciously tackles the quarterback during practice one day. After witnessing this event the coach realizes he might have a knack for the sport. Bobby becomes a player on the team and the ending is one of those “You have to see it to believe it” type endings. This is definitely one of my favorite movies. It’s hilariously funny, heartwarming, and passionate. 

5. We Are Marshall

We Are Marshall is the heartbreaking and inspiring story of how the Marshall football program recovered after a traddy. After losing 75 people associated with the team (37 players) in a plane crash in 1970. Jack Lengyel is the coach who’s brought in to pick up the pieces. Alongside Jack,  William “Red” Dawson, assists with the help. He was one of the surviving members of the coaching staff who hadn’t been on the plane.

The film chronicles the struggles of the subsequent games for the Marshall Thundering Herd. This is before culminating in a triumphant win that brings all the feelings of loss to a head. It’s an incredibly emotional tear-jerker movie that is every bit worth the watch. Yes, it is safe to cry while watching this movie I am NOT ashamed.

6. The Longest Yard

When a disgraced pro football quarterback lands in jail, a manipulative Warden recruits him to advise the institution’s team. This turns into a lead role for him, quarterbacking a crew of inmates in a game against a team of prison guards. Aided by incarcerated ex-NFL coach Nate Scarborough, Paul Crewe and his team must overcome many obstacles. This includes the bloodthirstiness of the opposition and the corrupt officials trying to fix the game against them.

7. Gridiron Gang

Gridiron Gang tells the partially true story of the Kilpatrick Mustangs. They are a football team run by a juvenile detention camp. The camp was created as a way to give the kids at the facility something to feel good about. From there, it’s your usual fare of a bunch of conflicts leading up to a big game. The good guys miraculously pull out at the very end. 

8. The Longshots

This movie is mainly about a down-on-his-luck former football player named Curtis Plummer. He then becomes the new coach of the Minden, Illinois, Pop Warner football team. His niece Jasmine is installed as the team’s quarterback and secret weapon for the team.This gives Curtis has a chance to turn his life around, while the residents of have a chance to recapture their team spirit and civic pride.

9. All The Right Moves

All the Right Moves was one of the early breakout performances by Tom Cruise in the ‘80s. He plays a high school defensive back who’s trying to get a college scholarship, but finds himself blackballed by his coach. 

The movie capitalizes on the cultural popularity and ubiquity of high school football in the U.S. It’s immediately understood that football is at the center of what happens in the small Pennsylvania town where it’s set. It’s also immediately clear that football might be the only way out for Stefen Djordjevic if he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life working at the local mill. 

10. Draft Day

Draft Day, is a movie that capitalizes on the strange success of the NFL Draft as a television event. This movie humanizes the people involved with the Draft. We’re so used to thinking of athletes, especially NFL athletes, as commodities. This movie helps us remember that these guys are real people. Whether you like football or not, Draft Day is a fun and exciting movie to watch.

11. Any Given Sunday

Is known as the gold standard of football movies. Lots of football movies have great action, lots of movies have sports-related drama. Lots of these movies have meaningful drama. Any Given Sunday is one of the few that puts all of these things together. In addition to being such an excellent film, it captures the dark side of the big business that is the National Football League (NFL) while still feeling like a celebration of the sport. 

12. Remember the Titans

It tells the story of real-life coach Herman Boone and the work that came along with integrating a high school football team in Virginia in 1971. It’s an optimistic vision of racial harmony while also being allowed to take a look at what sports, at their peak, can do for groups of people who might not otherwise get along. 

13. The Express

Ernie Davis, the main character is born into poverty. Despite that, he overcomes many obstacles to get into Syracuse University’s football program. Under the guidance of Coach Ben Schwartzwalder, Ernie Davis becomes one of the school’s best players. In 1961 Ernie Davis becomes the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy, but there is one more obstacle in his life that he must overcome.

Without ruining another good ending and giving you play-for-play information about the movie this is definitely a movie that you need to watch. It has great historical moments and is perfect for high school kids who are destined to step foot into the National League. Add this to your collection of Black History Month Moments worthy of praise.

14. Rudy

Based on real life, Rudy is the story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. Rudy grows up worshiping the Notre Dame football team — he even spends time memorizing and acting out the aforementioned “win one for the Gipper” speech from Knute Rockne, An all-American. 

His only goal in life is to play football at Notre Dame, and through an absurd amount of perseverance, for one shining moment he gets to do just that. Rudy is really the quintessential football movie because it’s a movie about loving football. One of the most charming things about it is that we never even really understand why Rudy loves it so much he just does, and we believe him. That kind of pure joy is the fuel that powers any good sports movie, and it’s a huge part of why we love them so much.

15. Varsity blues

Varsity Blues is a 1999 American coming-of-age sports comedy-drama film that follows a small-town high school football team through a tumultuous season. During the film the players must deal with the pressures of adolescence and their football-obsessed community while having their overbearing coach constantly on their back. In the small fictional town of West Canaan, Texas, football is a way of life and losing is not an option.

16. The Replacements

The Replacements is a 2000 American and British sports comedy film. The movie is based on the 1987 NFL strike, specifically the Washington Redskins, who won all three replacement games without any of their regular players and went on to win Super Bowl XXII. Late in the season, the playoffs are fast approaching and the Washington Sentinels have just gone on strike.

Scrambling for a solution, the Sentinels’ owner Edward O’Neil hatches a plan to bring in legendary coach Jimmy McGinty to recruit a team of replacement players in exactly one week. For fans and owners alike, the strike is a disaster. But for Shane Falco and a mismatched crew of outsiders, it is the second chance they’ve waited their whole lives for.

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