Football has replaced baseball as the favorite American pastime. What started off as a sport that was looked down on has quickly become the adrenaline-fueled, hard-hitting game that we love. Over the years, as the market around the sport grows, there have been more and more excellent football films released, many of which have gone on to become classics.
One thing is for sure, people cannot get enough of this sport. In between games fans pour through statistics, read up on the latest news, and play tons of fantasy football. Luckily there are more platforms than ever catering to this growing industry with numerous sites offering free bets to get you started. Of course, you could always indulge in these great football films as well.
The 2006 film Invincible starring Mark Wahlberg, is a heartwarming tale of triumph against the odds. It’s one of those films that’s deeply inspiring and all true football fans can’t help but love. The story follows the character Vince Papale (Wahlberg) in 1976. Down on his luck, he is struggling to make ends meet and has recently become separated from his wife. His friends hear that the local home team, the Philadelphia Eagles, are having open tryouts to make the squad. He doesn’t believe that he can make it, but with nothing to lose he joins the tryouts.
Despite numerous challenges and constant pessimism from those close to him, Vince makes it through round after round of eliminations until, finally, he is chosen to be on the team. The efforts and emotions of the film culminate in the final moments when Vince is able to score a game-winning touchdown in dramatic fashion. Of course it’s the kind of feel-good plot that you would expect, but the message rings true when you realize this is based on the true story of the real-life Vince Papale who played for the Eagles from 1976-1978.
The Longest Yard (1974)
The Longest Yard, starring Burt Reynolds, is a certified classic that blends comedy and great scenes of football. After the main character and former star quarterback Paul Crewe (Reynolds) is sentenced to 18 months in prison for reckless driving, he meets a sadistic prison warden who gives him a proposition. The warden manages a semi-pro team of guards at the prison and wants Crewe to form his own team from the inmates and compete against them. Reluctantly, Crewe agrees.
What happens from here is a series of slapstick comedy scenes and classic redemption film tropes involving colorful characters in the prison. This movie is a cult favorite that has lasted through the years and even inspired a 2005 remake starring Adam Sandler.
Draft Day (2014)
The newest film to make this list, 2014’s Draft Day, is a unique take on football films as it doesn’t follow a triumphant story of misfits but instead gives a glimpse into the inner workings of a NFL football team. Starring Kevin Costner as general manager Sonny Weaver, the film is centered around the NFL draft. Weaver must decide how to use his seventh overall pick to help rebuild his team, the Cleveland Browns.
Throughout the course of the 110 minute run time, we get to see the general discourse and negotiations that go on during draft day between teams, as well as the thought process and mentality behind picks. This is the perfect film for fantasy football players and it shares a lot of similar elements to the baseball film Moneyball. While underappreciated to a degree, Draft Day is the perfect film to watch between games this season.
Varsity Blues (1999)
At last, we come to Varsity Blues, the quintessential football drama. In many ways, this film is anti-football because it reveals a lot of the dark sides of the sport, including the immense pressure to perform and win no matter what. Of course, being the 1990s, it stars James Van Der Beek as a young athlete (Mox) that is thrust into a starting position on the football team.
Mox’s father and the city around him are football crazy and put immense pressure on him. Throughout the film, we see several athletes forced by the coach to play through serious injuries. Varsity Blues is certainly not an uplifting or triumphant football film but it belongs in every fan’s collection.