It's The Super Bowl of Movies: Five of the Best Movies About Football

Even better than the real thing: football movies!!!

Every year, we're told that everyone who's anyone will be watching the Super Bowl. The commercials! The halftime show! There's even a football game in there somewhere! Here are some movies about football that are more fun than sitting through the five hours of manufactured drama that is the Super Bowl.

The Longest Yard (1974 version) - 
Burt Reynolds plays a disgraced former football star who gets caught up in a ridiculous scheme involoving football while in jail. The Longest Yard gets a little bogged down in trying to balance drama with comedy at times, but the funny parts make it all worthwhile. The movie climaxes with an inmates versus guards exhibition game that hilariously turns typical sports movie cliches on their head. The guards should have worn better protection down there!

Friday Night Lights - 
This is a gripping tale about the religion that is high school football in Odessa, Texas. I resisted watching this movie for a few years because I love the book that it's based on so much. I was afraid they would betray the harsh truths and topics that are dealt with in the book and make it into a bunch of Hollywood nonsense. While they did change a few things, this still stands out as an atypical sports movie, accurately portraying most of what goes on in the bizarre culture of high school football.

North Dallas Forty - 
Peter Gent, a wide receiver who played for the Dallas Cowboys in the late 1960s, wrote a semi-autobiographical novel that became the source material for this movie. It's a a behind the scenes look at a much crazier era in the NFL. All of the main characters resemble real life Dallas Cowboys players and coaches, and it shows just how insane things were back then with unfettered drug use, locker room drama, and violence both on and off the field. The NFL still has problems today, but this movie is a great look at the league when there were virtually no regulations.

Any Given Sunday - 
Oliver Stone has a go at portraying life behind the scenes in the modern day NFL with Any Given Sunday. When it's dealing with the realities of being a player in the NFL, where your next mistake or injury could very well be your last, it's a very good movie. Stone tries to take on too many issues, though, slowing the movie down a bit when portraying the power struggles between owners, General Managers and coaches. Still, it's a very intriguing, well made football movie with great action sequences.

I have to swallow my pride and admit that this is actually a good football movie for people who don't like football. It features a Hollywood portrayal of Notre Dame football (is that a redundant statement?) starring Samwise Gamgee, AKA Sean Astin. He's a plucky little guy who's always dreamed of playing for Notre Dame because it's a magical place where dreams come true. He finally gets his wish, and Touchdown Jesus reaches down from his pearch and carries him onto the field, when... Well, we're spoiler free here, so you'll just have to watch it to find out what happens next. For the record, I attended a rival school of Notre Dame's for four years, and they beat the crap out of us every year I was there, so that might have something to do with the tone of this synopsis. All apologies.
-Tom McDaniel