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The Cure for the Post-Super Bowl Blues

Another Super Bowl has come and gone, the season is over, and football fans will need something to ease their withdrawal until next fall.

There are more films about football (professional, college, and high-school) than you probably realize, even if some of these movies deal obliquely with the sport.

Very few football movies can be considered true classics, but if we just discussed the A-team this would be a pretty short list, so here are some recommendations for pigskin-themed movie nights that should satisfy your off-season gridiron lust.

 

Professional Football/NFL

 

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Oliver Stone’s sprawling, gritty tale of pro football exists in its own fictitious world, with the fake team names detracting from the suspension of disbelief. Even without the endorsement or cooperation of the real NFL, the intense game footage makes for the most action-packed and bone-crunching gridiron epic ever made.

 

North Dallas Forty (1979)

Very few movies about pro ball actually use the names of real-life teams. This is one of ’em. Nick Nolte stars as a Dallas Cowboy in this biting satire of the NFL.

 

Heaven Can Wait (1978)

Though not a football movie per se, the then-Los Angeles Rams figure prominently in the story when their star quarterback (Warren Beatty) is prematurely taken to the afterlife and reincarnated.

 

Invincible (2006)

Mark Wahlberg stars in this true story of Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale.

 

The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Tony Scott’s action/detective potboiler deals with political graft, sports gambling and doped up football players. Unsurprisingly, the film is not endorsed by the NFL and is therefore set in a fictitious parallel world of pro ball.

 

The Replacements (2000)

Set amid a players’ strike, Gene Hackman coaches a team of scabs lead by Keanu Reeves in this gridiron comedy from the director of Pretty in Pink.

 

College Division

 

Rudy (1993)

From the director of Hoosiers comes another equally inspirational true-life sports drama, about a determined pipsqueak (Sean Astin) who dreams of playing football for Notre Dame.

 

The Program (1993)

James Caan stars as the coach of a college football team, and the film deals with their trials and tribulations, from grades and girls to substance abuse and ludicrous hazing/camaraderie rituals. The bit where teammates one-up each other by laying between opposing traffic lanes was copycatted by a few unfortunate real-life idiots, prompting Disney to pull the film from theaters in order to excise the scene. That footage has not been seen since, not even on DVD as an extra.

 

We Are Marshall (2006)

Somber but uplifting tale of the aftermath of Marshall University’s football program following a 1970 plane crash that killed the entire team. Matthew McConaughey stars.

 

Necessary Roughness (1991)

Innocuous though unremarkable college football comedy starring Scott Bakula, Hector Elizondo, Robbert Loggia, Jason Bateman, Sinbad, and Rob Schneider. A scandal has resulted in the suspension of the Texas State University Armadillos, and the football program struggles to endure after assembling a ragtag gaggle of non-scholarship misfits from the student body.

 

High School Division

 

Varsity Blues (1999)

Texas high school football by way of Dawson’s Creek, starring James Van Der Beek and Paul Walker.

 

Friday Night Lights (2004)

Billy Bob Thornton stars in Peter Berg’s tale of Texas high school football, which launched the popular television series.

 

All the Right Moves (1983)

Released after Risky Business but way before Top Gun made him a superstar, Tom Cruise stars in this little drama about a gifted high school student and football player who dreams of escaping from his poor coal mining town via a football scholarship, but runs afoul of his tough coach (Craig T. Nelson).

 

Remember the Titans (2000)

Set in 1971, Denzel Washington coaches a high school football team at a newly desegregated school. The movie tackles racial tension and acquired prejudice without ever seeming heavy handed, and is surprisingly poignant and devoid of cliché. Even without its heartbreaking real-life coda, the film is often cited as the very best football movie ever made.

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