It’s FOOTBALL TIME in Tennessee!!
Those familiar words have been ringing through the mountains of East Tennessee for the past several weeks.
I have to confess it is different not hearing John Ward doing the play-by-play. (For friends in Pittsburgh, John Ward is sort-of the Myron Cope of Tennessee football, only his voice is not grating!) I’ve always like Bob Kessling, but it’s just not the same.
It’s also been a disappointing start for nearly every team I like. The Volunteers are off to a slow start. My oldest son’s high school team is rebuilding, and has yet to win. My younger son’s middle school team started strong, but has now lost two in a row. Even the school I coached the past four years in Pittsburgh is off to an unusual slow start.
Of the teams I follow, only the Steelers are winning. So, as much as I enjoy the game, I’ve enjoyed far too few victories so far this year. So to keep my mind off all those marks in the “L” columns, I decided to try an entertaining diversion. I thought I’d try to list the Top 10 Football movies of all time.
Since this is no science, I invite anyone to make suggestions of their own Top 10, or just a few you think I’ve missed.
WDG’s Top 10 Football Movies:
10. Saturday’s Hero (1951)
John Derek plays a Polish-American immigrant who excels in high school sports. Though not so great academically, he wins a scholarship at an exclusive Southern university. Sidney Blackmer is a wealthy alumnus who sees to it that Derek is allowed to coast in his classes so that he can play football – and help Blackmer win a series of lucrative wagers on the games. When Derek is sidelined by an injury, Blackmer loses interest, but the rich man’s niece (Donna Reed) remains faithful to the boy. The cold business of subsidizing (and exploiting) college athlete…
9. Friday Night Lights (2004)
In a down and out town where the only way out is a football scholarship, the pressure to win is intense. High school Coach Gary Gaines carries the weight of that pressure squarely on his shoulders and sets out to show his players there is more to winning than the final score of the ball game. (Starring Billy Bob Thornton)
8. We Are Marshall (2006)
The true story of the 1971 Marshall University football team. Following a fatal plane crash that killed 75 members of the Marshall University football team (November 1970) Coach Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) struggles to rebuild the team and honor the memory of the fallen players.
7. Blood Sport (1973)
A high school athlete (Gary Busey) is torn between his father, who wants him to get a football scholarship, and his coach (Larry Hagman), who wants a winning season.
6. The Replacements (2000)
A pro football strike, leads to a team of replacement players given a second chance to play the game they love and earn the respect they’ve sought. (Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves.)
5. School Ties (1992)
Set at 1950s prep school. Brendan Frasier stars as a working-class Jewish quarterback from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who is offered a senior year scholarship to a prestigious New England academy. It’s his ticket to an Ivy League education and a way out of his Rust Belt hometown, but there’s one condition: the school’s elders ask him to be discreet about his religion. When jealous classmate (Matt Damon) learns his secret at an alumni party, he exposes the school’s new gridiron hero, creating the full force of religious intolerance from the prejudiced WASP institution. (Also featuring Ben Affleck & Chris O’Donnell.)
4. That’s My Boy (1951)
The greatest football player in Ridgefield College history, is disappointed that his only son Junior (Jerry Lewis) is an uncoordinated, allergy-ridden bookworm. He uses his athletic reputation and standing as #1 alumni contributor to pressure the coach to take Junior on the team. In addition, he pays the tuition of Junior’s financially needy classmate Bill Baker (Dean Martin), a potential all-American, with the understanding that he will room with Junior and mentor him athletically and socially. Junior’s initial efforts as quarterback prove disastrous and further complications arise when the room mates both fall in love with the same co-ed.
3. Brian’s Song (1971)
The original move… There was no need for the remake… Based on the real-life relationship between teammates Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and the bond established when Piccolo discovers that he is dying from cancer.
2. The Program (1993)
Several players from different backgrounds try to cope with the pressures of playing football at a major university. Each deals with the pressure differently, some turn to drinking, others to drugs, and some to studying. Shows the dark side of major college football… but not totally unrealistic. (James Caan, Craig Sheffer, Omar Epps, Halle Berry)
1. Remember the Titans (2000)
Based on the true story of the forced integration of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1971. African-American football coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) takes over as head coach when the current white coach is forced to step down to make room for a Black coach in the city system. It is a story of overcoming resistance and racism, to becoming a TEAM.