the top five football films of all time.
5. Brian’s Song
Legendary actors James Caan and Billy Dee Williams give amazing performances inspired by real-life athletes in Brian’s Song. When Gale Sayers arrives to play for The Chicago Bears, he finds an over-achieving running back Brian Piccolo standing in his way. Through a series of injuries and life altering events, the two adversaries form an unlikely friendship that transcends football, race and the human spirit. There’s a whole lot you could say about this movie, but I think when you look at what made this football movie so great, was the relationship between James Caan and Billy Dee Williams. It’s a rare thing for men to be portrayed on the silver screen with such caring for each other and that made the whole movie for me. James Caan is one of my favorite actors.
4. The Longest Yard
Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds) ends up in a prison run by sadistic sports-nut Warden Hazen (Eddie Albert). Strong-armed into forming an inmate football team, Crewe manages to instill an esprit de corps previously lacking in the prisoners’ lives. They now have the chance to beat the guards’ football team, headed by the hissable Capt. Knauer (Ed Lauter). Hazen orders Crewe to throw the match, otherwise Crewe will never get the pardon he’s been promised. The football game that follows consumes nearly a third of the picture. Burt Reynolds. Need I say more? In the 70’s Reynolds was a hero amongst men. Women wanted him and all men wanted to be him. The Longest Yard is one of the movies that cemented Reynolds as a 70’s icon. His portrayal as Paul Crewe, a washed up quarterback, was spot on. This football movie showed the trappings that athletes can fall into, gambling, arrogance, and entitlement. Reynolds encompassed all of them for this role. On a side note, this movie also had one of the greatest linebackers in the history of the NFL in it, former Green Bay Packer “Ray Nitschke” playing a small role as, of course, a football player.
3. The Program
Eastern State University isn’t particularly notable for anything except its football program. Lately, even that hasn’t been doing too well, and the athletic staff, led by Coach Winters (James Caan), are under considerable pressure by the administration and alumni to bring in a winning season. To do that, he has to recruit some able, promising young players out of high school. It’s not too surprising to learn that he will do almost anything to get these kids, and it’s even less surprising that, as long as they keep producing on the field, he and the college will overlook almost any obnoxious behavior the boys can perpetrate to the limit of their ability. Another James Caan classic, this movie showed the intensity of being in a high profile college football program. It deals with steroid use, cheating, illiteracy, competiveness, and the pressure of being a college athlete. James Cann has to deal with all these issues as head coach of “The Program”.
2. North Dallas Forty
The film’s setting is a 1970’s era professional football team based in Dallas, Texas named the North Dallas Bulls, which closely resembles the Dallas Cowboys. Nick Nolte plays the aging wide receiver, Phillip Elliott, who is struggling to stay competitive and relies heavily on the use of painkillers. Backed up by quarterback Seth Maxwell, played by Mac Davis, both players give insight into the drug and alcohol-fueled party atmosphere of teams of this era. All this happens under the watchful eye of iconic coach B. A. Quinlan, played by G.D. Spradlin. This is the original behind the scenes football movie. North Dallas Forty took a look at the NFL and it players beyond the field. Based off the semi autobiographical book by Peter Gent, North Dallas Forty shook the foundations of football at the time. Nick Nolte was in his prime as an actor and conveyed the struggle of age and staying completive in a young mans game beautifully. I would highly suggest seeing this football movie.
1. Any Given Sunday
Consistent with most Al Pacino performances, what you see is only a small taste of what you’re about to get. As Coach Tony D’Amato, Pacino is presented with a breath of fresh air from a third string player (Jamie Foxx) that makes him re-evaluate his coaching methods and his perspective on life. This gritty tale is captured in a realistic, powerful way through the direction of the legendary Oliver Stone. Being in the same vain as North Dallas Forty, Oliver Stone takes an inside look at the seedy side of football. This movie was the breakout role for Jamie Foxx. Al Pacino is great as the old war horse coach that anchored the movie, while Foxx flourishes as the brash young quarterback that just doesn’t get the concept of a team. With all the news we hear about football players being in trouble, this movie has more of a documentary feel then a fictional movie.
Find more great sports movies to watch by visiting the top 25 greatest sports movies ever.