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Ranking the Best Football Movies Ever Made

From peewee football to the NFL, the lore surrounding the game is like no other. And it provides a goldmine of content for Hollywood.

Ranking the best sports movies ever, including Rudy, The Water Boy, and Remember the Titans
Credit-TriStar Pictures/Touchstone Pictures/Walt Disney Pictures/Joker Mag Illustration

Throughout history, we have been enamored by the storylines on and off the field surrounding the game of football. Across every level of the sport, from peewee football to the NFL, the lore surrounding the game is like no other.

From the story of college football’s most famous walk-on, Rudy Ruettiger, to the undersized Sam Mills making an improbable run to the Hall of Fame, the game of football is full of stories that have inspired audiences, and Hollywood has taken notice.

The drama of the NFL, and all professional sports for that matter, provides a goldmine of content for screenwriters and Hollywood executives. Let’s look at the best football movies of all time – weighing box office results, critical reception, audience reviews, and IMBb ratings to compile our list.

10.) Greater (2016)

Category: Based on a true story

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

Box Office: $2 million

Where to Watch: ROKU and Peacock 

Coming in at number ten on our list is the 2016 film, Greater.

Greater tells the story of Brandon Burlsworth, one of the greatest walk-ons in college football history.

Though it drew one of the lower box office returns on the list, nothing captures the heart like an underdog story, and Greater fits the bill as one of the most inspiring football movies of all time.

9.) The Replacements (2000)

Shane Falco's quote "Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever." in The Replacements

Category: Comedy

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

Box Office: $50.1 million

Where to Watch: Available to rent/buy on VOD with Amazon, Roku, and Apple TV  

The Replacements is a sports comedy loosely based on the 1987 NFL strike. The star-studded cast features the likes of Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Jon Favreau and Rhys Ifans.

The film follows a rag-tag group of football has-beens who get one last shot to play out their dreams on the field. Featuring one of the most iconic football quotes of all time, The Replacements has gone on to be a cult favorite among fans.

 “Pain heals, Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.” 

8.) Invincible (2006)

Category: Based on a true story

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

Box Office: $58.5 million

Where to Watch: Disney+  

Another film based on a true story, Invincible tells the story of Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who inexplicably made the roster of the Philadelphia Eagles after the team held open tryouts.

Staring a young Mark Wahlberg before he was dominating the box office as an action star, the film encapsulates the story of one of the most heralded underdog stories in football.

7.) The Waterboy (1998)

Category: Comedy

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10

Box Office: $190 million

Where to Watch: Hulu   

The story of Bobby Boucher, Adam Sandler’s titular character, is iconic.

“Rowdy” Bobby Boucher had a knack for tackling and became the star player on his team in this raucous affair of a movie. Further cementing Sandler as a premier comedic talent, The Waterboy has the distinction of being the highest-grossing sports comedy of all time. 

6.) Any Given Sunday (1999)

Category: Drama/Comedy

IMDb Rating: 6.9/10

Box Office: $100.2 million

Where to Watch: HBO Max

A look at the cast sheet for Any Given Sunday could stand alone as a showcase for some of the top actors in cinema history. Featuring the likes of Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Charlton Heston, Dennis Quad, the film features several Oscar and Emmy winners and was directed by the vaunted Oliver Stone.

The film is loosely based on the novel of the same name by NFL defensive end Pat Toomey and tells the story of a once-great football team and their inevitable resurgence behind their third-string quarterback.  

5.) Friday Night Lights (2004)

Category: Drama loosely based on a true story

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Box Office: $62 million

Where to Watch: Peacock

Another film loosely based on a true story, Friday Night Lights was adapted from the H. G. Bissinger book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream.

The film centers on a downtrodden town that unites behind their local high school football team in one of the most inspirational football movies of all time. Famed movie critic, Roger Ebert, said of the film: “The movie demonstrates the power of sports.” 

4.) The Longest Yard (1974)

Category: Drama/Comedy 

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

Box Office: $43 million

Where to Watch: Hulu

We aren’t talking about the remake, but the original from 1974.

The Longest Yard is a timeless classic that has delighted generations of football fans. Starring a young Burt Reynolds, the film follows a football player turned convict who organizes a gamer of football, inmates versus guards.

The Longest Yard has the distinction of featuring the longest single game on screen, logging in at 47 minutes of run time.

3.) Jerry Maguire (1996)

Category: Romance/Drama 

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

Box Office: $273 million

Where to Watch: Netflix

Jerry McGuire was a cultural phenomenon and is the highest-grossing movie on our list.

Staring a young Tom Cruise at the height of his stardom, the movie brings the audience inside the world of sports agents, and its iconic lines spawned a litany of catchphrases like “Show me the money!”

Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for his role in the film. 

2.) Rudy (1993)

Category: Based on a True Story

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

Box Office: $22.5 million

Where to Watch: Netflix

With respect to the film Greater, Rudy tells the story of the most famous walk-on in college football history.

Is there a more goosebump-inducing scene in sports movie history than watching a young Sean Astin as Rudy led the Notre Dame fighting Irish out of the tunnel and onto the field?

1.) Remember the Titans (2000)

Category: Based on a true story

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

Box Office: $136.8 million

Where to Watch: Disney+

There is not a movie on this list with more inspiring speeches and quotes. Remember The Titans tells the true story of a segregated town that comes together to face racial tension and unite behind their high school football team.

Denzel Washington plays the titular character, Coach Boone, and delivers one of the most iconic quotes in sports movie history.

“If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.”

Honorable Mention

Brian’s Song (1971) – TV Movie

Category: Based on a true story

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

Where to Watch: Disney+

While a treasured and inspirational sports movie, Brian’s Song just missed our top ten list due to the film premiering on TV, not in theaters.

Despite debuting on the small screen, Brian’s Song has gone down in history as one of the most underrated football movies ever – telling the story of Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, the first interracial roommates in NFL history.

Stop missing out on the best underdog stories in sports! Join our Underdog Newsletter to keep up with the unsung heroes and overlooked stories happening in sports.

Written By

Graduated from IUPUI in 2014 with a degree in journalism and a minor in creative writing. Nolan has been a freelance writer since 2019 as a contributing writer and reporter for multiple online platforms.

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