For this week’s installment of Top 10 Thursdays, we thought it would be fun to take a shot at ranking the Top 10 football movies of all time. Of course, this is a category that is about as subjective as you can get.
The kind of things that might make a movie special for me, may not be at all important to you when picking your favorite movies. And that’s okay. That’s what makes doing an exercise like this so much fun. But, that doesn’t mean that you are precluded from criticizing someone else’s list. Fortunately, I have a thick skin – so feel free to have at it!
Certainly in compiling this list, it was clear that there were a lot of great choices. We came up with our Top 9 movies and were comfortable with our ranking of them. But deciding on our #10 movie proved to be quite difficult. So, we decided to ask you for your help in making that selection.
We ran polls on our Fanspeak.com site and our Fanspeak Facebook page. The candidates for the final spot on our list were “Invincible”, “Friday Night Lights”, “The Program”, “The Replacements”, “Any Given Sunday” and “Necessary Roughness”. We have combined the results from those two polls and we have a winner! You all have selected as Fanspeak’s #10 best football movie …
Stone directed this 1999 fictional movie about a Pro football team struggling to make the playoffs and win the league title amid key injuries, and controversies swirling around it’s a long time head coach (Al Pacino) and new, young owner (Cameron Diaz).
This movie had intriguing plot lines and a star-studded cast which, in addition to Pacino and Diaz, included such notables as Dennis Quaid, James Woods, and Jamie Foxx as well as cameos by a number of current and former NFL players. Certainly a worthy selection by our readers.
This 1940 film starring Pat O’Brien as the legendary Notre Dame football coach, Knute Rockne, is just simply, a classic. It was quite popular when it was released just nine years after Rockne was tragically killed in a plane crash, and it’s still entertains today.
Of course probably the biggest reason why it has withstood the test of time is because it gave us the “win one for the Gipper” quote and because the character of George Gipp, “the Gipper”, was played by a future President, Ronald Reagan. The iconic nature of this film justifies its inclusion on this list.
Our number eight selection is the 1974 comedy starring Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert. When former star, pro football quarterback, Paul Crewe (Reynolds), ends up in prison, the sadistic warden (Albert) wants him to coach the warden’s semi-pro football team made up of prison guards. Crewe’s refusal leads to a game being set up where the guards would play against a team of inmates led by Crewe. The idea being, that the guards would be able to inflict physical punishment on the inmates throughout the course of the game. However, much to the frustration of the warden, Crewe leads the inmate team to victory.
The storyline provides ample opportunity for some very funny scenes and lines. When you combine that with the fact that there were several former NFL players in the cast, including Joe Kapp and soon to be Hall of Famer, Ray Nitschke, it’s easy to see why this film has become a pop culture hit.
This 1983 film features a young Tom Cruise as the star defensive back at a Western Pennsylvania high school, set in the fictitious town of Ampipe. The storyline has Cruise’s character desperately wanting to get a football scholarship to serve as his ticket out of town so that he can avoid “getting stuck” having to stay there and work for the town’s major employer, the American Pipe Company. But a conflict develops between him and his head coach (Craig T. Nelson) which looks to threaten the plan. Stir in the complicated relationship that Cruise’s character has with his girlfriend (Lea Thompson), and you have quite a compelling storyline.
While the movie was not highly acclaimed, it struck a chord for a lot of people. That “ticket out of town” mentality is very real. This scenario depicted in this movie gets played out in towns all across this country year in and year out, and it has done so for generations.
Whether it’s that storyline that appeals to a lot of guys, or the young Tom Cruise and his character’s relationship with his girlfriend that the women may find it interesting, this movie has become one that always seems to make the “best sports movies” lists and we’re not about to change that.
When the unthinkable happens, almost an entire football team is killed in a plane crash, you wonder how a school could ever get its football program back on its feet. But that is exactly what Marshall University did after 37 of their players and all but one of their coaches were among the 75 people who lost their lives when their charter plane crashed in November of 1970 as it was preparing to land at the airport in Huntington, West Virginia. The team was returning from a game against East Carolina University.
After consideration was given to suspending the football program at Marshall, it was decided that the school would try to rebuild the program. This 2006 movie takes you through the struggles and challenges that this school and the Huntington community had to face. Matthew McConaughey plays the character of Jack Lengyl, the man who was hired as the new head coach tasked with leading the team into the 1971 season.
What came through in this movie, was the range of emotions that was prompted by the accident and then the effort to recover from it. The sadness over the tragic events began to get replaced with the heartwarming feelings that were experienced in watching the rebuilding process take place.
This movie was not particularly well received by movie critics. But moviegoers did not buy into the negative reviews and the movie became quite popular. Clearly, people were moved by that “We are Marshall” spirit and the movie became a fan favorite. And we were moved enough as well to bring it in as #6 on our top football movies list.