The Greatest Football Movies You Should Be Streaming Right Now

By Kevin C. Neece | Updated

Football seems to have surpassed baseball as America’s pastime and when they’re not watching football, fans of the sport enjoy watching movies that take place on the gridiron. But football movies don’t just appeal to fans of the sport and often feature compelling performances and inspiring stories. Here are our picks for some of the greatest football movies of all time.

7. The Longest Yard (2005)

This football movie is a comedy-drama remake of the 1974 film of the same name that follows the story of a group of prison inmates who form a football team and play against their prison guards. Adam Sandler stars as Paul “Wrecking” Crewe, the former professional quarterback who agrees to form the team in exchange for a reduced prison sentence.

Co-starring Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Nelly, and William Fichtner, the film also features Burt Reynolds, who played Sandler’s character in the original film, as fellow prisoner and former college football star Nate Scarborough.

The film remains the most successful opening weekend of Adam Sandler’s career and the second most successful opening weekend for a film that was not number one, eclipsed only by The Day After Tomorrow in that category.

6. Invincible (2006)

This football movie stars Mark Wahlberg as a bartender who achieves surprise success as a player for the Philadelphia Eagles. The film is based on the true story of Vince Papale, who played for the Eagles from 1976 to 1978.

Greg Kinnear plays Papale’s coach, Dick Vermeil, who helps him make the transition to the professional sports world and find his place on the NFL team. Directed by Ericson Core and written by Brad Gann, the film also stars Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Conway, and Michael Rispoli.

Invincible was also the inspiration for an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, where it is referred to as “that New Kids on the Block movie” by characters who are clearly confusing Mark Wahlberg with his brother Donnie.

5. We Are Marshall (2006)

Another football movie based on a true story, this one follows a university rebuilding its football team after a tragic plane crash. 37 players from the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team were among the 75 people killed in the 1970 crash of Southern Airways flight 932, considered the worst sports-related air tragedy in US history.

The rest of those killed were five coaches, two athletic trainers, the athletic director, 25 boosters, and the airplane crew of five.

Directed by McG, the film stars Matthew McConaughey as head coach Jack Lengyel, who is tasked not just with filling a football roster but with helping to heal a wound in the lives of a community struck by tragedy.

4. Any Given Sunday (1999)

It might seem strange that Oliver Stone would direct a football movie, but this is one of his more successful films. This compelling drama explores the behind-the-scenes realities of a professional football team.

Based in part on the novel On Any Given Sunday by NFL defensive end Pat Toomay, the film’s cast comprises a long list of Hollywood stars including Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, and many more—even Charlton Heston.

The title is based on a line from Tony D’Amato, the head coach played by Al Pacino, who says that any football team can lose on any given Sunday.

3. Friday Night Lights (2004)

This football movie was so successful, it spawned a long-running television series of the same name. Delving into the world of High School football in Texas, the film depicts the intense pressure and challenges facing the team and its coach in a state that highly prizes the sport at both the high school and college levels.

Based on a book of the same title chronicling the real story of the Perlman High School Panthers in the city of Odessa, the film follows the team’s 1988 championship bid. Directed by Peter Berg, it won an ESPY Award for Best Sports Movie and made Entertainment Weekly‘s list of Best High School Movies.

2. Rudy (1993)

Sean Astin would go on to become forever associated with Samwise Gamgee of the Lord of the Rings films, but his breakout starring role was in this football movie. The quintessential inspirational story, the film follows a young man who is determined against all odds to play for the famous Fighting Irish at Notre Dame University.

Based on the real life story of Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger, the film depicts Rudy overcoming incredible odds, including the lack of grades, money, physical stature, and playing ability, to join the university’s football team.

Notable for its broad appeal and classic story, this film was the first that was allowed to be shot on the Notre Dame campus since 1940.

1. Remember the Titans (2000)

Based on a true story, this football movie focuses on a high school football team in Virginia that has to overcome racial segregation to achieve success. A symbol for our own nation’s struggles to achieve equality on the other side of a dark history of racial violence and oppression, the film provides an inspiring example of a group of young men who embraced diversity.

Remember the Titans is anchored by Denzel Washington, who turns in one of his finest career performances as the team’s coach.

Herman Boone, the real life coach of the TC Williams High School Titans led the 1971 team, depicted here, to a 13-0 season in spite of racial tensions. The film and Washington’s performance are a moving tribute to this achievement.