Best Football Movies - Featured - StudioBinder

What makes the best football movie of all time? They run the gamut from high school, comedy, college, inspirational, and kids football movies. That’s a wide spectrum!

In this post, we’re going to give you a list of the best football movies so that you and your loved ones can watch some of the great movies that make you want to crack some skulls.

Top 10 Football Movies

Great Football Movie Preface

How do you determine which are the best? I think you have to take a look at the sport first and foremost to understand why people love football. It’s a game of inches where timing is crucial. 

Football is one of the only sports where brute force and dexterity can face off with each other, or in certain moments even be combined. It’s one of the only sports where broken fingers isn’t an injury, but rather an expectation. Ever see a basketball player play with a cast on their arm?

A former coach of mine said it best:

“Football is NOT a contact sport. Football is a collision sport.

For our ranked list, we’re going to look at the portrayal of the actual gameplay, the inspiration factor, the story and filmmaking.

Sandra Bullock Football Movies

20. The Blind Side (2009)

The Blind Side is the story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All-American football player and first-round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.

The Blind Side trailer

The Blind Side was a successful football film because it spoke to a few key audiences and their life experiences. The fact that this happens to be based on a true story makes it even better, but the best part of the film is the story that occurs off the field and how important family can be.

70%
Authentic
75%
Inspo
75%
Story
70%
Filmmaking
73%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Life Affirming
  • Good Performances
  • True Story
  • A Bit Hokey
  • Dull Moments
  • Less Gameplay

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

Might be higher on the list if the Football was a bit better. The players also get narratively crucified too much.

Will Smith Football Movies

19. Concussion (2015)

Concussion is a football movie about an accomplished pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.

Concussion trailer

Professional football is governed by the economy and by the same power dynamics as any other billion dollar industry. The NFL buried concussion data just as investment bankers hide their drug habits and risky behavior, or the mineral extraction industry hides safety shortcuts.

80%
Authentic
65%
Inspo
80%
Story
70%
Filmmaking
74%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Unique Take
  • Good Performances
  • True Story
  • One Note
  • Dull Moments
  • Less Gameplay

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

This football film helps to expose a scandal and educate the viewer so that football can be enjoyed as a sport that tests our athletic abilities while also protecting the athletes.

Old Football Movies

18. The Longest Yard (1974)

The Longest Yard is a film that shows a sadistic warden asks a former pro quarterback, now serving time in his prison, to put together a team of inmates to take on the prison guards.

The Longest Yard trailer

It’s somehow a deeply profound and terribly shallow football movie. The main character is self destructive and flawed to the core, and yet the viewer will often end up rooting for him until the very end. Is this football film a commentary on the penal system or sports celebrity run amuck? Probably not, but it wasn’t a shameless cash grab either.

70%
Authentic
70%
Inspo
80%
Story
75%
Filmmaking
74%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Funny
  • Cult Classic
  • Unique
  • Tone Deaf
  • Odd Gameplay
  • Silly

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

This is a football comedy movie that takes a pampered pro football player and throws him in the slammer. It focuses more on the emotion and the jokes rather than the gameplay, but it’s also a football fan favorite with a lot of 1970s charisma.

The Rock Football Movie

17. Gridiron Gang (2006)

Gridiron Gang is a story of teenagers at a juvenile detention center, under the leadership of their counselor, that gain self-esteem by playing football together. The movie stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and has a similar story arc to Coach Carter, Hardball, and Dangerous Minds.

Gridiron Gang trailer

Gridiron Gang has some really great gameplay in the film, and it has an affirming message that shows how sports can help young people build friendships and to excel when put on an even playing field.

75%
Authentic
80%
Inspo
80%
Story
70%
Filmmaking
76%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Good Gameplay
  • Good Message
  • Courageous
  • Familiar Concept
  • On the Nose
  • Oversimplified

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

Despite some of the oversimplification that takes place in many films about “at risk youth”, the simple fact is that the movie has a positive message and an honest effort to empathize.

Tom Cruise Football Movies

16. All the Right Moves (1983)

All the Right Moves is a film that shows a high school football player desperate for a scholarship and his headstrong coach clash in a dying Pennsylvania steel town.

All the Right Moves trailer

All the Right Moves is a dramatized version of what many young football players in steel country experience, both today and in the 1980’s. This is a good football movie that serves as a pretty accurate depiction of some high school football experiences on and off the field.

75%
Authentic
75%
Inspo
80%
Story
75%
Filmmaking
76%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Good Story
  • Clear Motivations
  • Authentic Story
  • Average Gameplay
  • A Bit Contrived
  • Inflated Stakes

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

Some good football gameplay and earnest storytelling that explores the reality of growing up in the rust belt.

Good Football Movies

15. Varsity Blues (1999)

Varsity Blues is a story about a back-up quarterback who is chosen to lead a Texas football team to victory after the star quarterback is injured.

Varsity Blues trailer

This football movie tries to walk the line between a serious examination of high school sports and the pressures it creates along side whipped cream bikinis and stripper english teachers. If you have a sense of humor and enjoy a bit of debauchery with your football film, look no further, this movie is for you.

80%
Authentic
70%
Inspo
75%
Story
80%
Filmmaking
76%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Highly Stylized
  • Good Football
  • Fun Soundtrack
  • Ridiculous
  • Tone Deaf
  • Mediocre Acting

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

Varsity Blues has a decent amount of really good gameplay on screen which elevates the material quite a bit. There is another football movie that deals with similar subject matter from which this football film could have taken a few lessons.

College Football Movies

14. The Express (2008)

The Express is a drama based on the life of college football hero Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. This football movie has some pretty great gameplay in the film.

The Express trailer

This football movie touches on the college players experience, the player/coach relationship, and of course, the tough journey for the first African-American Heisman trophy winner.

75%
Authentic
80%
Inspo
75%
Story
80%
Filmmaking
78%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Strong Message
  • Good Gameplay
  • Rite of Passage
  • A Bit Hokey
  • Weird Pacing
  • A Bit Contrived

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

A really good football movie that demonstrates how sports can act as an environment for social progress. The film doesn’t suggest it was an easy road, but one that is worth the fight.

Funny Football Movies

13. North Dallas Forty (1979)

If The Express is the progressive feel-good movie that tackles race relations, the North Dallas Forty is the corrupted and yet brutally honest cousin that comes crashing through the window hopped up on pain pills.

North Dallas Forty trailer

The football in this movie is pretty mediocre along with some of the filmmaking techniques, but the movie is really funny and full of scenes that many filmmakers would have a hard time making today.

80%
Authentic
70%
Inspo
80%
Story
80%
Filmmaking
78%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Honest Look
  • Very Funny
  • Unique Nostalgia
  • A Bit Silly
  • Dull Moments
  • Average Gameplay

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

A comical and cynical view of professional football in the 1970s. One of the only films to suggest that, just maybe, football players are not the best role models.

Adam Sandler Football Movies

12. The Waterboy (1998)

The Waterboy is a film about a college football team that discovers their Waterboy has a unique tackling ability and becomes a member of the team.

The Waterboy trailer

How do you compare a movie like Waterboy and some of the other ones on this list? I think you just have to allow the pure enjoyment of the film to stand on its own, and to consider how the movie used the dynamics of football to create the entertainment for the film. Hitting is a huge part of the game of football, so why not have some fun with it?

80%
Authentic
75%
Inspo
85%
Story
85%
Filmmaking
81%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Big Hits
  • Funny Scenes
  • Very Quotable
  • Very Silly
  • One Note
  • Average Football

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

No matter how you feel about Adam Sandler movies, this film has some of the best on screen gameplay so far on this list. It’s also oddly wholesome while simultaneously cynical. It’s the perfect football comedy movie, and a real joy to watch.

Great Football Movies

11. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Jerry Maguire is a film about a sports agent who has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it. Jerry then decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him and his former secretary.

Jerry Maguire trailer

Not only is Jerry Maguire a great football movie, but it’s just a great film in general. Did it move the chains on commercialism in the sporting world? Probably not. Did it realign the souls of sports agents across the globe? Highly doubtful. But that is sort of the point of the film. The high road isn’t easy and it isn’t pretty, but when you make changes to help purify your soul the things that truly matter rise up, and the things that don’t fade.

80%
Authentic
80%
Inspo
90%
Story
90%
Filmmaking
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Strong Characters
  • Inside Look
  • Great Directing
  • Less Gameplay
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

Might be higher on the list if the Football was a bit better. The players also get narratively crucified too much.

Great Football Movies

10. We Are Marshall (2006)

We Are Marshall when a plane crash claims the lives of members of the Marshall University football team and some of its fans, the team's new coach and his surviving players try to keep the football program alive.

We Are Marshall trailer

This is a really strong football movie that focuses on an entire team and the spirit of an entire school rather than a single athlete, which gives it a unique quality. The movie has some important lessons on bouncing back and rebuilding when it seems nothing will ever be the same again.

85%
Authentic
90%
Inspo
85%
Story
80%
Filmmaking
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Unique Story
  • Good Gameplay
  • Very Inspirational
  • Hyper Specific
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

This football movie does a really good job of inspiring the viewer and communicating an affirming message about continuing with your life after a tragedy. There is also some really good gameplay on display.

Old Football Movies

9. The Replacements (2000)

The Replacements is a comedy football movie about a pro football strike where the team owners go off and hire substitute players.

The Replacements trailer

As far as rag tag groups in sports movies, the scabs in The Replacements are fun to watch, and while the movie likes to get a few laughs they shrewdly balance out the comedy with Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves’ redemption stories. It’s a great football movie to be sure.
85%
Authentic
85%
Inspo
85%
Story
85%
Filmmaking
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Funny
  • Great Acting
  • Celebratory
  • A Bit Silly
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

The Replacements is another great football comedy movie. It does a great job of mixing the comedy with solid gameplay, and inspiring message about second chances, and features some great acting from Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman.

Recent Football Movies

8. Draft Day (2014)

Draft Day is a film set during the NFL Draft, where GM Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number one pick. He must decide what he's willing to sacrifice on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with NFL dreams.

Draft Day trailer

Draft Day is one of the more interesting football films because it is almost entirely about the behind the scenes of the NFL draft and takes place in the span of a single day. This built in ticking clock is something that many films don’t take advantage of enough, and I think it helps to make for a really interesting and worthy football movie.
90%
Authentic
80%
Inspo
90%
Story
85%
Filmmaking
86%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Unique View
  • Great Directing
  • Deep Dive
  • Less Gameplay
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

This is a really great movie for those who love professional football and gives you a dramatized glimpse into how the teams operate behind the scenes. Sometimes you need to do something unique with your football movie.

Famous Football Movies

7. Brian’s Song (1971)

Brian’s Song is a football movie based on the real-life relationship between teammates Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers and the bond established when Piccolo discovers that he is dying.

Brian’s Song trailer

Brian’s Song is similar to Bang the Drum Slowly because it follows an athlete with medical complications and focuses on the friendship as much as it does the actual sport.
90%
Authentic
90%
Inspo
85%
Story
85%
Filmmaking
88%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Mature Story
  • Great Acting
  • Classic Film
  • Mediocre Football
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

Brian’s Song is based on a true story and while it isn’t as fun to watch as many of the other films on this list, it’s very inspirational and shows the power of football.

Denzel Washington Football Movies

6. Remember the Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans is a great football movie about the true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit.

Remember the Titans trailer

Remember the Titans is a movie about the power of sports as a unifying force. It teaches us that when we have to endure as a team you quickly forget differences like a person’s ethnicity because your core humanity is exposed and there is nothing left to hide behind. The movie has some really wacky gameplay portrayals, as well as a scene where hydration is seen as a form of weakness, but no movie ages perfectly.

85%
Authentic
90%
Inspo
90%
Story
90%
Filmmaking
89%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Fan Favorite
  • Positive Message
  • Triumphant
  • Mediocre Gameplay
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

Remember the Titans seems to capture a specific cross section of football fans that enjoyed The Blind Side, The Express, and Friday Night Lights. The one thing that holds this movie back is the actual on field gameplay.

Mark Wahlberg Football Movies

5. Invincible (2006)

Invincible is a football movie based on the story of Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who overcame long odds to play for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in 1976.

Invincible trailer

This football movie is inspirational, a bit dark, pretty funny, and has one of the more memorable moments where the main character carries around a hurtful note from his ex-wife. Classic Papale.
90%
Authentic
90%
Inspo
90%
Story
90%
Filmmaking
90%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Inspiring
  • Courageous
  • Strong Gameplay
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

What sets this football movie apart from many others are the practice scenes. There is a ton of good football gameplay in the film, and it’s an inspiring story that also happens to be true.

Best Football Movies of All Time

4. The Program (1993)

The Program is a great football movie about several players from different backgrounds as they try to cope with the pressures of playing football at a major university. Each deals with the pressure differently, some turn to drinking, others to drugs, and some to studying.

The Program trailer

The Program is one of the few football films that is painfully honest about the circumstances surrounding the game. This football movie also shows some of the strategy and inner workings of the game better than most. There are some really great lines and performances in this film.

95%
Authentic
90%
Inspo
90%
Story
90%
Filmmaking
91%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Honest
  • Strong Gameplay
  • Strategy Scenes
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

The Program is a great mixture of a behind the scenes cynical look at football paired with an earnest devotion to the game. There are some very serious moments, some really funny moments, and some very honest storytelling.

High School Football Movies

3. Friday Night Lights (2004)

Friday Night Lights is a football movie based on H.G. Bissinger's book, which profiled the economically depressed town of Odessa, Texas and their heroic high school football team, The Permian High Panthers.

Friday Night Lights trailer

Friday Night Lights is a pretty authentic look at west Texas football and how the sport affects more than the players but also their families and the members of the community. That can be a lot for some young kids who have the weight of their town on their shoulders all while still trying to figure out who they are as people. You don’t need to feel bad for them or pity them, but the movie focuses on the right topics in my opinion.
95%
Authentic
90%
Inspo
90%
Story
95%
Filmmaking
93%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Accurate Portrayal
  • Great Football
  • Good Variety
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

Friday Night Lights is a really well done football film that takes the Texas high school football culture and presents it in a really straightforward manner without the excess and glamour. Great on field gameplay and great storytelling.

Comedy Football Movies

2. Any Given Sunday (1999)

Any Given Sunday is a football movie that gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the life-and-death struggles of modern-day gladiators and those who lead them onto the battlefield. You might notice that the critic and audience score for this film isn’t as high as some of the other movies on this list, but there is a lot they don’t take into account.

Any Given Sunday trailer

This is, for better or worse, one of the more accurate depictions of the modern age of pro football. Maybe politics and selfish attitudes are intentionally ignored by many, but these are real life factors and any true depiction would touch on them like this film.
90%
Authentic
90%
Inspo
95%
Story
100%
Filmmaking
94%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Honest
  • Great Football
  • Great Directing
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

The football movie has the cynicism of The Program. It has the exciting gameplay of The Replacements and Friday Night Lights. It has the behind-the-scenes politics of Draft Day. Top it off with the filmmaking prowess of Oliver Stone and what you get is Any Given Sunday. A truly great football movie.

Best Football Movie

1. Rudy (1993)

Rudy is a great football movie about a young man who has always been told that he was too small to play college football. But he is determined to overcome the odds and fulfill his dream of playing for Notre Dame.

Rudy trailer

A great sports movie needs to inspire and it needs to show the value of hard work and commitment. Rudy does just that, and it uses one of the great sports programs to do so. There are few films where, by the end, you feel as accomplished for so little playing time, but that’s the beauty of this sports movie and how passion can lead to great things.

90%
Authentic
100%
Inspo
100%
Story
90%
Filmmaking
95%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Monumental
  • Inspirational
  • Great Directing
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Football Movies

Conclusion

Rudy isn’t as flashy as many of the other ones on this list, but it’s a true story that is pragmatic, inspirational, and a testament to the power of tenacity. It has some wonderful acting, great gameplay, and an unforgettable score.

UP NEXT

All-Time Best Sports Movies

Now that we've swung at some memorable baseball films, here's a list of the greatest sports movies of all time. Raging Bull, Rocky, and Remember the Titans, are some of the classics that are covered. Take a look through all of them; which ones have you seen?

Up Next: The Best Sports Movies of All Time →
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