Now that football season is officially over for another seven months, I’m sure you, like me, are missing it already. So let’s talk about some of the best football movies that can help fill the post-Super Bowl void! The following is a list of my favorite football films, in no particular order.
Remember the Titans (2000)
Can you have a list of best football movies without this one? Disney’s Remember the Titans is a true classic, not just of sports films, but across all movie genres. In the off chance that you haven’t seen it, the movie, based on a true story, stars Denzel Washington and follows the events of a high school football team racially integrating in the 1970s. Filled with humorous moments and heartfelt scenes, the movie’s message of unity is incredibly powerful and moving.
Draft Day (2014)
Draft Day is about, well, NFL Draft Day. It follows (fictional) Browns GM Sonny Weaver Jr., played by Kevin Costner, as he prepares for day one of the draft. I would classify it as a movie for the NFL-obsessed like yours truly, as the movie focuses on the politics and business side of the NFL more than the game itself. Weaver must navigate interactions with the Browns’ coaching staff, other teams’ GMs, current players, and prospective players, all while dealing with problems in his personal life. While the characters are fictional, it does use the actual NFL teams and branding, which is a nice touch of realism. It is a unique take on a football movie, but one I thoroughly enjoy.
American Underdog (2021)
American Underdog tells the story of Kurt Warner, played by Zachary Levi, the St. Louis Rams quarterback who fought for his NFL dream and achieved incredible success in the end. The movie also focuses on Warner’s Christian faith and his budding romance with the woman he’d eventually marry. The film is an inspiring story that speaks to the challenge of actually making it in the NFL, and is a fairly accurate depiction of Warner’s real life journey. It’s very well done.
Rudy follows the story of Rudy Ruettiger (played by the incredible Sean Astin) and his quest to play football at the University of Notre Dame. It is by far the greatest football underdog movie out there, though it doesn’t end in the way you might expect. I think that’s what I like about it—it’s a story about perseverance, but doesn’t ignore reality. Which is a good thing, considering it’s based on a true story. Overall, Rudy is a charming movie and another classic sports film worth watching, if you’ve never seen it.
The Game Plan (2007)
Okay, now I’m shifting from the more serious films into the goofier genre, starting with Disney’s The Game Plan. This movie came out when I was a kid, but when I watched it not too long ago, it really holds up. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as hotshot quarterback Joe Kingman and Madison Pettis as his daughter Peyton, the plot of the film revolves around their relationship. It’s funny, as Joe has no experience or desire to be a dad, and heartwarming, as he slowly comes to care for his daughter. It’s definitely a sweet football-themed family movie.
Home Team (2022)
Home Team, loosely based on true events, stars Kevin James as Sean Payton, set during his suspension related to the New Orleans Saints’ Bountygate Scandal. (Which I will restrain myself from commenting on here…) The movie touches a little on Payton’s fight to get reinstated as head coach of the Saints, but primarily focuses on him reconnecting with his son and coaching a terrible middle school football team in a small Texas town. While it does follow the “terrible team rises to greatness despite the odds” formula found in many sports movies, it also subverts a few expectations in an often humorous way.
80 For Brady (2023)
Last but certainly not least, 80 for Brady is delightfully dumb. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. It follows four best friends, a group of 80-year-old ladies who love watching the Patriots (and especially Tom Brady) every week. Their goal? Go watch Tom Brady play in Super Bowl LI in person. I will admit (and to clarify my initial description of the movie), the concept is more brilliant than the execution. The plot suffers from some poor pacing, convenient moments, and, well, a somewhat ridiculous climax—BUT I absolutely loved it, despite its flaws. While it’s certainly not a typical football movie, it’s a fun ride, full of funny beats and heartwarming moments. If you’re a football fan, it’s worth watching at least once. (Side note: if this movie was about an 80-year-old lady cheering on Kirk Cousin’s grandson leading the Minnesota Vikings to their first Super Bowl victory, this movie would be a perfect glimpse into me 50 years from now. Probably another reason why I liked it in spite of the story issues, ha!)
~ ~ ~
While there are many other fantastic football films out there, these are certainly the ones I’ve enjoyed lately or remember fondly. What’s your favorite football (or other sport) movie?