The Most Inspirational Football Movies of All Time
Everybody loves a good inspirational sports movie, and football movies often have some of the best reviews. You’ve probably already watched a few of the most inspirational football movies of all time. But, in case there are a few you’ve missed, here is a list of our faves:
The Longest Yard
A movie you won’t be able to stop watching and will truly be inspired by, The Longest Yard, starring Adam Sandler, is one you won’t be sorry you picked. This 2005 comedy is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name. Sandler’s character, Paul Crewe, is a former professional football player accused of shaving points in a big game and ended up in prison.
While there, the prison warden coerced Crewe into leading an inmate football team to play against the prison guards’ team. With the help of another prisoner and former college football star played by Burt Reynolds, the inmate team is formed. It starts off a little rocky with lots of interference from the prison guards’ team, like flooding the inmates’ practice field, but the inmate team overcomes these obstacles.
The movie ends with a final game between the inmates and guards in a heated football rivalry. At halftime, the score is tied, and the warden makes threats to Crewe to coerce him to purposely throwing the game. Initially, he does but changes his mind despite threats, and the inmate team ends up winning the game. Perseverance and hard work paid off for the inmates.
The Blind Side
The movie The Blind Side is not only moving but is based on a true story making it more inspiring than the average classic football movie. This 2009 film tells a story of Michael Oher, a lineman who played professional football for the Panthers, Titans, and Ravens. Oher grew up in poverty with a drug-addicted mother, was shuffled in and out of foster care, and ran away from a foster family to end up as a homeless teen eating any leftover food he could find.
Sandra Bullock plays the mother of children who attend school with Oher. She notices his situation and offers to let him sleep on a couch in their home. Over time, Oher became a part of the Tuohy family who took him in. They became his guardians and eventually adopted him. The Tuohy’s encouraged Oher, who was massive in size, to get involved in high school football. Eventually, he overcame all odds to play college football and eventually professional football as a first-round draft pick.
A 2008 sports comedy, Leatherheads is another classic football movie starring George Clooney. The film takes place in 1925, when a struggling professional football team, the Bulldogs, is on the verge of collapse. The captain of the team (Clooney) convinces a college football star, who is also a decorated war hero, to join the team, and they begin to prosper.
After overcoming obstacles along the way and conflict between the team captain and a new recruit regarding embellished war hero stories and competition for the same woman, the story ends with the two rivals playing one another. But this time they are on opposite teams. In the end of the movie, conflicts are resolved and life lessons are learned.
An interesting aspect of the movie Leatherheads pertains to the equipment used in football in the early 1900s. Instead of the solid helmets, you see in professional football today, thin leather helmets were used instead, making the game of football seemingly more dangerous.
The movie Rudy is a classic, and if you haven’t watched this inspirational film now’s the time. In fact, the movie Rudy is ranked in the 30 best sports movies of all time by Rolling Stones magazine and named one of the top 25 sports movies by ESPN. Your emotions will be all over the place after learning about the true story of Rudy Ruettiger, an aspiring college football player seeking a spot on the Notre Dame team.
While Rudy didn’t have the size, talent, funds for tuition or grades to play at Notre Dame initially, he didn’t give up. He first enrolled in a junior college to get his grades up. Rudy discovered he had dyslexia, and worked harder to improve his grades. After being rejected three times, Rudy is finally admitted to Notre Dame and walked onto the football team without a scholarship. He earned a spot on Notre Dame’s practice squad because of his drive and determination.
In the final home game of the season during Rudy’s senior year, he’s allowed to suit up with the team and lead the squad through the tunnel out onto the field before the game. Rudy earned a chance to play during the last kickoff of the game and one additional play, where he sacked the quarterback and was carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders. This movie shows that drive and determination prevail, even when the odds are greatly against you.
Another true story made into an inspirational football film, Invincible is one of the best you’ll see if you’re a football fan. This story is about Vince Papale, a “nobody” living in Philadelphia. He had never played college football, just lost his wife (who said he would never amount to anything), and recently was laid off from his high school teaching job.
Papale learned that the new Philadelphia Eagles head coach was going to stage open public tryouts in an effort to turn around the team’s string of losing seasons and find new talent in the area. Papale decided to attend the public Eagles tryout hosted at Veterans Stadium. Against all odds, Papale is invited to training camp with the Eagles after his tryout performance but endures disrespect from other players and lots of difficult training. Papale eventually made the team!
After a rocky start to the season Papale and the Eagles step up their game, and Papale becomes a force to be reckoned with out on the field. He played three consecutive seasons with the Eagles from 1976 to 1978 and the team eventually made it to the Big Game.
We Are Marshall
As with a number of other inspirational football movies, We Are Marshall is based on a true story that happened with the Marshall University football team. In 1970, a plane crash killed 37 of the players, five coaches, many other members of the team and crew. Everyone on board (seventy-five people) were killed in the plane crash. This true story is about rebuilding a fallen football program after the tragedy, and healing that occurred in the community.
After a new head coach, played by Jack Lengyel, takes over the team and slowly begins to rebuild in a short time period. The new team consists of several returning players that weren’t on the fatal flight, younger players, and walk on athletes from other sports programs. Through hard work and dedication, the team slowly starts to become victorious.
Remember the Titans
Remember the Titans is a true story involving the Titans high school football team in Virginia, involving racial tensions that were in place in the 1970s at T.C. Williams High School. A black head coach was hired to take over the team, and a former white head coach is named as his assistant.
The football team consists of both black and white players as racial tension was an obstacle in the beginning, and the head coach, Herman Boone, is told if he loses any games he’ll be let go. The Titans respond with an undefeated season, overcome racial prejudice, and gain community support. With all odds against the team due to prejudice from referees and rigged games, the Titans go on to win a state championship.
Facing the Giants
Facing the Giants, a 2008 inspiring film, is one you won’t regret watching. The head coach at Shiloh Christian Academy, Grant Taylor, doesn’t have the best record in his six-year stint as head coach. And to top it off, his seventh season starts off poorly as well. There is talk in the community about letting him go, and everything seems to be at a low point in his life. Taylor’s car breaks down and he discovers his wife can’t get pregnant.
As a Christian-based movie, Facing the Giants is about having faith no matter what happens in life. Taylor coaches his players to give maximum effort and have faith through prayer and positivity. As a result, blessings begin flooding into Taylor’s life such as a pay raise and gift of a new truck. And the team begins winning games. They even make it to the state championship and win! At the end of the movie, Grant and his wife find out they’re expecting a baby.
Woodlawn is another faith-based inspiring football movie with racism at its core. It takes place in 1973 at Woodlawn High School in Alabama. Racial tension and hate are in place in the community of Birmingham, and the head football coach works with a team of both black and white players trying to ease strained relationships.
After an outsider comes to speak with the team about faith, love, and positivity, the team and community are revived spiritually. In fact, all 40 football players are on board and start believing in their chosen faith. Woodlawn is a more recent inspirational sports movie, as it was released in 2015.
Friday Night Lights
A 2004 sports drama film, Friday Night Lights, is the story about a high school football team in Odessa, Texas. This movie won the Best Sports Movie ESPY Award and led to a television series with the same name two years after the movie was released.
Friday Night Lights gives insight into the struggles of small-town high school football in Texas. The plot involves a star player with an injury overused by his coach and ends up with a permanent limp as a result, a player abused by an alcoholic father, and the overall pressure players face from parents, coaches, and community members to win games. The plot of the movie shows such obstacles can be overcome.
Similar to Friday Night Lights, Varsity Blues is also a movie about a small-town Texas high school. In the town of West Canaan, losing games isn’t an option. Scandals are prevalent and obstacles are to be overcome. One star player even loses out on a chance at college scholarships due to an injury, which should have been nursed with protective gear, that was masked with pain medication because of his coach. In the end of the movie, players take a stand against the corrupt coach to win the final game, and some players go on to earn college scholarships.
Varsity Blues takes a close look at the pressure of teen athletes from parents, teachers, coaches and community members. But in the end players learn what’s really most important life, and that football is just a game.
Evolution of Football Equipment
When watching some of the most inspirational movies of all time, you’ll notice how football equipment has evolved over the years. The first helmet was developed in the late 1890s, but helmets weren’t mandatory in college football until the 1900s. The first helmets used in the game of football were made of leather, and didn’t even cover a player’s entire head. In the year 1940, the first plastic helmet was created and patented.
It wasn’t until the 1970s when more advanced helmets were created, with pads inside filled with air to absorb impact and better fit each player’s head. Shoulder pad technology has also come a long way since the game of football began.
In today’s day and age, sports medicine and protective gear have made it easier for athletes to avoid injuries or recover more quickly. Athletes today might be seen wearing a patella band, wrist compression sleeve, or elastic ankle support to protect joints exposed to high-impact activities seen in the game of professional football.