Top Ten Football Dramas

fnl header 560x361Look at the ratings, ticket sales, or even talk to a painted fan and you will quickly find that people really care about football. Drama is so popular that TNT turned ‘drama’ into a slogan and teenage girls base their lives on the concept. With two popular can’t miss entertainments, it is a little surprising that they don’t go together better. Football generally banks on its entertainment being a whimsical comedy or is acted out by people who would be better off doing dinner theater. Dramas are better when someone has committed a crime. The following are examples where the crime wasn’t destroying the All-American sport on film or the small screen.

10. Any Given Sunday


Oliver Stone actually delivered a good film which told a riveting tale after an exhaustive  period of research on professional football. Stone also followed what should be the first rule of any sports drama: cast Dennis Quaid in a starring role. Released in 1999, this was also a watershed moment in that it is arguably the first time Jamie Foxx acted, and the last time Al Pacino did. The movie also did a lot to further the argument that Cameron Diaz could be convincing as a man whose soul was trapped in a woman’s body.

9. Varsity Blues

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In light of the Penn State scandal, go back and watch Varsity Blues. Even though the movie is now thirteen years old and involves high school football, you can’t help but on some level that John Voight as Bud Kilmer nails the aura surrounding Penn State football. The shot of the statue standing alone at the end of film feels almost creepy now. What’s more, Varsity Blues is a finely crafted movie that created a few teenage movie tropes as well convincing a few people that James Van Der Beek could act.

8. The Junction Boys


It's hard to know or say what Paul “Bear” Bryant was like at Texas A&M in the 1950s. That particular point could be argued back and forth. Whatever the truth of the situation, The Junction Boys beautifully captures a training camp bringing a coach and his players to the brink. The movie dramatically shows how when a lesson is necessary, both sides can learn from it.  On a side note,Tom Berenger can play any role and play it convincingly.

7. Everybody’s All American

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Again, if you want to have a truly great dramatic sports movie, start by casting Dennis Quaid. Quaid plays Gavin Grey, a running back for LSU in the 1950s. Grey’s career takes him through a professional stint with the Washington Redskins as well as personal failures. Everybody’s All American feels like a remarkably honest portrayal of a football player’s whole life. Of course, fellow Louisiana native Peyton Manning might want to take notice. ‘The Grey Ghost’s’ career ends on a sad note with the Denver Broncos.

6. Rudy


On some level movies need to be accepted as entertainment regardless of the veracity or personal failings of the people who the movie chooses to highlight as well as mythologize. In this regard, Rudy, starring Sean Astin as a boy who just wants to play Notre Dame football fighting his way to glory is inspiring. The actual movie takes a number of liberties with the ‘based on a true story’ allowance. However, Astin’s Rudy Ruettiger takes a couple of hours to show us what the best of us can potentially be.

5. Friday Night Lights


Friday Night Lights was not only a great film, but it was also based on a wonderful true story that inspired an equally good television series. The great reality and drama of the 2004 movie comes from "breaking" one of the all-time sports movie rules. The team does everything right. The star player holds onto the ball. Everything is set up for a classic Hollywood ending. At the end, just as in real life, Perriman loses the championship game. That is sports. That is reality. That is also the first time going the distance has been valued over winning since the original Rocky.

4. The Blind Side


The Blind Side follows the unlikely true story of Michael Oher. Oher is taken in by a sympathetic southern family and their sassy matriarch Leigh Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock.The film isn't inspiring because Oher becomes a first-round draft pick. It's the journey he takes to get there. As such, they did a wonderful job and is one of the greatest dramatic football movies ever made.

3. Knute Rockne, All American


The phrase "win one for the Gipper" has become such a cliché that you almost forget how memorable it was at the time. There is also a chance you may forget that the movie was not actually about George Gipp. Rockne, who died tragically young, is the portrait of a coach as well as his Notre Dame teams. The movie is every bit as relevant today as it was back then. Just sit back, relax and let yourself be inspired by the movie.

2. Playmakers


Playmakers was such a strong dose of reality for professional football that there are rumors the NFL would not re-up with ESPN unless the show was cancelled. There were also rumors that the Atlanta Falcons were actively searching for who the leak was in their organization. Reportedly, the episodes were barely written on time and actors were handed parts of unfinished scripts. In one season, the series legitimately changed the game.

1. North Dallas Forty


North Dallas Forty is not one of the greatest football movies of all time. It is not one of the greatest sports movies of all time. North Dallas Forty is one of the greatest movies of all time. Playing for the barely fictitious Dallas Bulls, the film was based on a novel by Peter Gent (who was a receiver for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s.)  Nick Nolte plays Phil Elliot, a wide receiver who is at the end of his career. It's a classic case of price paid versus potential reward. North Dallas Forty is also one of the first real looks inside the life of a modern-day pro athlete.