The Sports Archives – The Top 5 Football Movies in the Past 20 Years!

The Top 5 Football Movies in the Past 20 Years

Baseball might be America’s pastime, but football is its passion.  There’s just something about those crisp fall Sundays paired some chicken wings, cold beers, buddies, and the game that make life seem a little sweeter.  Luckily, for those dark months when football is taking its seasonal hiatus, there are plenty of football-themed movies to get your pigskin fix. Here are the five greatest football flicks from the past two decades that have something for everyone—from the underdog to the hardcore fan (and even something for the kids!)

#1 “Remember the Titans”, 2000

Remember The TitansDirected by Boaz Yakin, “Remember the Titans” not only tackles the hardships of winning a football championship but also the perils of overcoming racism and the desegregation of schools in the early 1970s.  Denzel Washington stars as Coach Herman Boone whose personal goal is to win the championship while ridding the team of racial discrimination. Through tough technical drills, strong leadership, and powerful lectures he succeeds in his goal with the help of his defensive coordinator and previous head coach, Bill Yoast (played by Will Patton).The film is a perfect mix of tactical football, humor, and heart-wrenching scenes thanks to a dynamite cast; especially the intense team captains played by Wood Harris and Gerry Bertier and the lovable and large defensive lineman turned peacemaker played by Ethan Suplee.   A young Hayden Panettiere, who plays Coach Yoast’s daughter, rounds out the cast as the team’s unofficial mascot and lead heckler.

#2 “Rudy”,  1993

Rudy“Rudy” is the classic underdog comeback story based on the real life accounts of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. Directed by David Anspaugh and starring Sean Austin as the title role. The film follows the character as he overcomes physical limitations, a learning disability and relentless taunts and teasing from his family to fulfill his dream of playing for the Notre Dame Football program. The sound of the crowd chanting Rudy’s name before he finally gets put into his first and only Notre Dame Football game is one of the most motivating scenes in sports movie history.

#3 “The Blind Side”, 2009

The Blind SideBreaking football movie tradition with a female star, “The Blind Side”, directed by John Lee Hancock, is based on the true story of football star Michael Oher and his adoptive mother Leigh Anne Tuohy, who along with her family, takes in the homeless Michael ”Big Mike” Oher. Throughout the film, Oher eventually overcomes the obstacles he faces as a foster child from the projects to become a NFL star for the Baltimore Ravens. Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock (who won an Academy Award a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award for her performance), not only helps Mike understand his role to protect the quarterback’s blind side on the field but she also gives him something else he’s never experienced before—a bed to sleep in and a family unit that loves and supports him. Young Jae Head plays Tuohy’s son, SJ, who instantly befriends Oher and brings warmth and comic relief to the film.

#4 “Little Giants”, 1994

Little GiantsThis family friendly football comedy follows two battling brothers: Kevin a well-known retired football star and Heisman trophy recipient and his nerdy younger brother, Danny, who settle their sibling rivalry by coaching opposing Pee-Wee football teams. Ed O’ Neill plays Kevin, who despite her undeniable athletic ability, cuts Danny’s daughter from his team. As revenge, Danny, played by Rick Moranis, allows his daughter to convince him to form and coach his own competing team of misfits who didn’t make Kevin’s elite squad. The two teams face off in a hilarious football battle, which ends up with an underdog victory by the misfit team known as the Little Giants.  Director Duwayne Dunham ensures the film has a great mix of romance, comedy, heart-warming plot and even a few cameos by real life NFL stars to keep the adults interested.

#5 “The Program”, 1993

The Program“The Program”, directed by David S. Ward, follows the fictional ESU Timberwolves as the players and coaches attempts to deal with the pressures that come with participating in a college-level program; including performance enhancing drugs, partying, family pressure, media scrutiny, scholastic expectations and performance anxiety. James Caan stars as head coach Sam Winters who, along with his staff, struggle to bring the football team a championship by overlooking some out-of- control behavior from the players. The movie does an excellent job at showing the intensity of the hits and tactical movements on the field but also reveals the complexity of the athletes’ lives off the field. One of the most famous scenes features defensive-end Steve Lattimer, played by Andrew Bryniarki, who during a bat of “roid rage” smashes his head through several car windows while celebrating his newly elevated position on the team by screaming, “Starting defense! Place at the table!”

With all of the negative attention football has received this off-season, ( and the anticipation of NFL season just around the corner; it’s sometimes comforting to take a football escape with a few good flicks from this list.

Author Bio: Dwayne Thomas is a huge DC sports fan (Redskins, Nationals, and Wizards).  He is also a staff writer for

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