Ranking the Top 10 Football Movies of All-Time

It’s Super Bowl week! For plenty of fans, this week comes with excitement, anxiety, and an enduring wait to opening kickoff. Some will spend the week watching highlights on YouTube, prepping their Super Bowl party menus, or lathering up various fan bases on social media. Another option to pass time in this marathon week is to kick back and watch some great football films. Here’s a list to start you off:  

10. Necessary Roughness

This was literally the biggest toss-up on the entire list. The 1991 film Necessary Roughness has one of the most unbalanced casts and an extremely predictable plot. However its the fun nature and easy-going appearance that gives the project its charm. The Texas State University Fightin’ Armadillos quest to win without the help of scholarship and superstar athletes is truly enjoyable. With a fiery coach at the helm and truly diverse range of characters on the team, its a true thumbs up watch .

9. Little Giants

This is easily the most quoted children’s sports film of all time. The Carolina Panthers even ran The Annexation of Puerto Rico in 2011 . The 1994 beloved film Little Giants tells the story of a group of pop warner league castaways going face-to-face with powerhouse town rivals. Spike sure doesn’t play with girls but he totally got beat by one.

8. The Program

The Program follows the ESU Timberwolves as they face extreme pressure to make it to a bowl game. The film touches on abuse, boosters, the hype of college football, steroids, and more. Carried by a cast that includes Halle Berry, James Caan, Kristy Swanson, and Omar Epps, the film really dives into the extremities of big time football.

7. Varsity Blues

“There goes my hero, watch him as he goes.” The Foo Fighters anthem masterfully blares through one of the longest end game sequences on the list. When Lance Harbor goes down for the West Canaan Coyotes, many thought their season was over. However when Jonathon Moxon takes over at quarterback, he finds himself at odds with more than just the opponents across the field. A tyrannical coach’s showdown with his own team is a true defining moment.

6. Remember The Titans

The 2000 film Remember The Titans depicts the first season of a racially integrated team under the helm of a black coach. From  “left side, strong side” to the passionate way this band of brothers came together through racial turmoil, this film has so much heart. Petey Jones Island > Revis Island.

5. The Undefeated

Oscar-winning documentary The Undefeated tells the story of the 2009 Memphis Manassas Tigers. Coach Bill Courtney’s attempts to elevate the team and city after years of losing is a poignant depiction of inner-city football. The under-financed program ditched embarrassing “pay games” and worked tirelessly to cultivate a wining season. The documentary truly shows the deficiency in several high school athletics across the country and highlights several individuals who work endlessly to sustain them.

4. Jerry Maguire

Most people will chalk this up as one of the better romantic films to come out of the 90’s. Forget all the “you complete me” nonsense. Jerry Maguire was a tremendous sports film. The relationship between Rod Tidwell and Jerry gave the audience a true glimpse into deals that make the billion dollar NFL industry boom. The Cameron Crowe film was genuine, humorous, entertaining, and gave us the term ” the quan”.

3. Brian’s Song

The story of the bond between Chicago Bears players Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers hit the TV screens back in 1971. The Emmy-winning production beautifully illustrates the true maturation of a friendship that was forged through racial divides and scrutiny. A true tear jerker, the film is one of the greatest achievements in TV movie history.

2. Any Given Sunday

Oliver Stone truly gave us on of the most high-octane sports films ever. The glorious cinematography in the film put the audience right in the huddle. From the contrast between hotshot Willie Beaman and aging quarterback Cap Rooney to Al Pacino’s fantastic portrayal  Tony D’Amato, the film perfectly balances locker room tensions and the game. The “inches” speech gets me every time.

1. Friday Night Lights

The perfect mixture of casting, direction, storytelling, and gameplay found a home in the 2004 football classic Friday Night Lights. The list topper has it all: the high stakes landscape of Texas high school football, team turmoil, racial lines, major injuries, and a hell of a pregame speech. Based on the true story of the 1988 Permian Panthers, this sports masterwork truly captures the pressure packed level that America’s true pastime can place on its young players.


But What About Rudy?

I already know there are some confused souls reading this waiting for that scrawny South Bend hero to emerge. The reason why Rudy didn’t make this list is clear. Hall-of-Fame QB Joe Montana exposed it for the fake news that it was in a 2010 interview on The Dan Patrick Show:

Dan Patrick: Were you there when Rudy was there?

Joe Montna: Yeah. It’s a movie, remember. Not all of that is true.

Dan Patrick: What wasn’t true?

Joe Montna: Well, the crowd wasn’t chanting. No one threw in their jerseys. He did get in the game. He got carried off [at the end of] the game. […] Back then they tried to play someone at the end of [the season] that all the seniors could get in the last home game. The schedule was kind of set that way. So he got in. He did get a sack. And then the guys carried him off, just playing around. I won’t say it was a joke, but it was playing around. He worked his butt off to get where he was and to do the things he did. But not any harder than anyone else.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your top football movies you think should be in the top 10 that aren’t listed above.

You can follow Candis McLean on Twitter (@CandisRMcLean) and e-mail her at Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.



  1. Terrell

    01/30/2018 at 4:27 PM

    Jerry Maguire is not a football movie. Moron!

    • Candis McLean

      01/31/2018 at 9:26 AM

      Under that logic, Draft Day isn’t a football movie. The film literally charts from the NFL draft, through a season, and free agency with a player. It’s a snowboarding movie for sure!

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