September is here and with it comes fall, the season of cooler weather, pumpkin spiced everything and football, football, football. It is nearly impossible to avoid seeing references to the sport. Thanks to its popularity, several films have been made over the years revolving around the sport. The beauty of these films is that most do not require any knowledge of the sport itself. Here are five films even the most casual football observer should watch.
Remember the Titans
Release Date: September 29, 2000
One of the most popular football movies to come out of the 21st century so far is Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington and Will Patton. Based on a true story, Washington plays Coach Herman Boone, an African-American coach who takes the job of head football coach at a newly integrated school, much to the chagrin of the current players. Patton plays Coach Bill Yost. At first, Yost is dismayed at being relegated to Boone’s assistant. In the end, however, he proudly stands side by side as they lead their team to victory. What makes this such a great film is the growth we see in so many characters. Specifically, the friendship between Julius Campbell (Wood Harris) and Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst) that begins as hatred and grows into brotherhood. Remember the Titans is a classic. Just keep a tissue handy for the ending.
Release Date: October 24, 2003
Radio is another film based on a true story. It tells the story of a mentally challenged man, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., befriended by the local high school coach, played by Ed Harris. In the beginning, James Robert “Radio” Kennedy keeps mostly to himself. He is contented pushing his shopping cart and listening to the music coming from his radio. When he is harassed by the local high school football team, Coach Harold Jones (Harris) makes it his mission to make things right between Radio and the team. Initially resented by the star player, Radio becomes an integral part of the team. Coach Jones finds himself caring more and more about Radio’s well being, upsetting the local townspeople who feel his attention should be elsewhere. Jones agrees and decides to put Radio’s care ahead of his own career, leading to a lifelong friendship between the two.
Friday Night Lights
Release Date: October 8, 2004
The film that sparked the hit television series starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. In Odessa, Texas, high school football is everything and the Permian Panthers are kings, as long as they win. The pressure is on everyone, from the coach to the players, and it takes its toll. Friday Night Lights follows a small group of players as they deal with the pressures of winning from all areas of their life and their coach as he attempts to lead them to victory.
We Are Marshall
Release Date: December 22, 2006
In November 1970, an airplane crash claimed the lives of a majority of Marshall University’s football team and coaching staff, as well as several of the team’s fans. In the spring, one of the players who missed the flight due to injury begins to rally to convince the university to rebuild the football program for the 1971 season. Coach Jack Tengyel (Matthew McConaughey) and his assistant Red Dawson (Matthew Fox) struggle to rebuild the team until they convince the NCAA to allow freshmen to play. Building the team from the ground up causes Tengyel to reevaluate his outlook on the sport as he, the team and the school all discover that winning may not, in fact, be the most important thing of all.
Release Date: October 22, 1993
Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger (Sean Astin) dreams of nothing more than playing football for Notre Dame University. The only thing stopping him is his grades, his skill and his height. When tragedy strikes his best friend (Christopher Reed), Rudy becomes even more determined to follow his dreams and sets out to become a member of the Fighting Irish no matter what it takes. Through his persistence, determination and hard work, Rudy inspires the people around him and eventually discovers that some dreams are worth the wait.
There are many other football centric films worth watching depending on your level of interest in the game. So grab your favorite pumpkin spiced drink, kick back and cheer on your favorite fictional team!