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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?