8 Great Football Flicks to Cure Your Pigskin Withdrawal

Not all the usual suspects, either

March 4, 2016 9:00 am

With the Super Bowl in the rearview and the draft still two months away, March is undoubtedly the beginning of the football doldrums.

And no, the combine doesn’t count, no matter the hilarity of wardrobe malfunctions that ensued.

Herein, eight quality pigskin flicks — sorry, Draft Day — to help you ease that wicked NFL withdrawal.

Al Pacino’s Inspirational SpeechFrom “Any Given Sunday”4:40

Any Given Sunday

Oliver Stone’s sometimes meditative film may have the best playing sequences of any football film to date. Not only is the in-game cinematography beautifully shot, you also get long, engaging sequences of games. It’s as close as you’ll get to a game without watching old NFL Films highlights on VHS. Plus: the best halftime speech ever.

Spike Don’t Play With Girls!From “Little Giants”2:18

Little Giants

It’s The Mighty Ducks of football, a sweet football fix in kid-friendly fashion. Rick Moranis (Ghostbusters) and Ed O’Neill (Modern Family) star as rival brothers who take their feud to a youth football league as coaches. A classic underdog story with a John Madden cameo.

Game DayFrom “Big Fan”2:26

Big Fan

Patton Oswalt as the world’s biggest New York Giants fan, spending his nights calling into sports talk radio shows to talk football and argue with his nemesis, Philadelphia Phil. There aren’t many films that capture fandom’s excess as scarily as this.

Harold LloydFrom “The Freshman”1:25

The Freshman

Need to change things up? How about a 1925 silent film that stars the wildly underappreciated Harold Lloyd — think more Buster Keaton than Charlie Chaplin. Lloyd is a college freshman who joins the football team to become popular. It’s short and funny. If you’re looking for that same old-timey feeling with sound, try the Marx Brothers’ Horse Feathers.

Agony of Defeat From “Friday Night Lights”3:27

Friday Night Lights

Of all the great football movies, Friday Night Lights may do the best job of exploring the relationship between a community and its sports. Based on the book by Buzz Bissinger, the movie follows a high school football team in Odessa, Texas, exploring the ways the city hangs its hopes on a team of kids. It’s complicated and will feel familiar if you’ve ever played the game.

Breakfast of ChampionsFrom “North Dallas Forty”2:11

North Dallas Forty

This 1979 film was ahead of the curve in creating a story that looks at the dark side of sports. Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by former Dallas Cowboys receiver Peter Gent, the film goes deep into the gritty end of life as an athlete, from football groupies to painkiller abuse to the pitfalls of celebrity.

There Are Two Kinds of People in This WorldFrom “Fortune Cookie”2:33

Fortune Cookie

This largely forgotten Billy Wilder film starts with Jack Lemmon at a pre-NFL Cleveland Browns game, where he gets injured as a cameraman on the sidelines. It’s a hilarious film that represents the first on-screen collaboration between Lemmon and Walter Matthau, who would go on to make 11 films together. Football is tangential to the laughs, but maybe that’ll help you forget the hollow feeling in your gut.

Team RecruitmentFrom “The Longest Yard”2:42

The Longest Yard

Yes, the original Burt Reynolds one from ‘74, not the unnecessary Adam Sandler remake. Part comedy, part jailhouse drama, and surprisingly strong football scenes thanks to the inclusion of real NFL players like Ray Nitschke and Joe Kapp.

Honorable mentions: Brian’s Song, Heaven Can Wait, Jerry Maguire, Rudy, The Replacements

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