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GRUBENHOFF: Five football flicks to tide you over

Sam Grubenhoff
sgrubenhoff@nwfdailynews.com
Northwest Florida Daily News

Football has been in the news a lot recently.

How is that different than any other time of the year? It’s not. In fact, if there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been able to touch, it’s the football news cycle.

Between NFL free agency, draft preparation and college recruiting, the sound bites, quotes and highlight tapes discussing the coming high school, college and pro seasons have flowed ad nauseam. Especially at a time when many can’t walk farther than their living room TV sets without taking an undue risk, football and the rest of the sporting world has been doing its best to keep us distracted.

As New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees so succinctly said Wednesday on “The Ellen Show” of all places, “The American people need sports right now."

Unfortunately — as we approach the one-month mark for life without sports — sports and football look to be many months away.

So, in the meantime, here are five of the best football movies to help scratch that gridiron itch.

“Rudy”

Consistently ranked as the best football movie of all time, the 1993 biopic about Rudy Ruettiger and his quest to play for the Notre Dame football team belongs on the Mount Rushmore of underdog flicks alongside the likes of “Rocky” and “Hoosiers.”

However, whereas the other two films are fictional and loosely based on a real story, respectively, “Rudy,” starring Sean Astin post-“Goonies” and pre-“Lord of the Rings,” rings true on most counts, proving with a little humility and a lot of hard work anything can be achieved.

Where to watch: Rent on Amazon Prime or Vudu for $2.99

“Remember the Titans”

I’m gonna go on record real quick and say this my personal favorite football movie, full stop.

And in the pantheon of sports movies, 2000’s “Remember the Titans” has the best locker room scene of all-time thanks to “Too much male bonding” and a spirited rendition of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

The rest of the film is touching look at breaking down barriers, friendship and perseverance. Everyone remembers the night they watched the Titans play.

Where to watch: Free on Disney+; Rent on Amazon Prime, iTunes or YouTube for $2.99

“Friday Night Lights”

The TV show was better, but the 2004 film that preceded it deserves its due, too. “Friday Night Lights” is the quintessential Texas high school football movie, and that’s coming from a kid who grew up in Dallas; trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Starring Billy Bob Thornton, the film, also based on a true story, perfectly captures exactly what football means to the community of Odessa, the West Texas city a perfect stand-in for any small town with a football team and a dream.

Where to watch: Free on Cinemax; Rent on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube for $3.99

“Varsity Blues”

Although it came out five years after, 1999’s “Varsity Blues” is the R-rated, funhouse version of “Friday Night Lights.”

Featuring similar plot beats, it dials all the football movie clichés up to ridiculous levels and features James Van Der Beek at the height of his “Dawson’s Creek” fame as a backup quarterback thrust into the starting role with all its perks and drawbacks who squares off with Jon Voight, a high school coach dead set on winning at all costs.

Where to watch: Rent on Amazon Prime, Vudu or YouTube for $2.99

“We Are Marshall”

Alright, alright, alright.

Matthew McConaughey spearheads the touching true story about overcoming the tragedy of a 1970 plane crash that killed many members of the Marshall University football program.

Tackling grief and the task of restarting a program without most of its players and leadership, the “Young Thundering Herd” embrace the perseverance common in sports stories not out of their own self-interest, but in an effort to honor the friends and family they have lost.

Where to watch: Rent on Amazon Prime, Vudu or YouTube for $3.99