Super Bowl LVI is fast approaching and there are few better ways to get pumped up for the biggest football game of the year than indulging in some epic football movies.
This sport has made some intense flicks over the years, covering from topics such as the 5 biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history to the biography of outstanding players who overcame the odds to achieve greatness.
So here are five of the best NFL movies to watch before the Super Bowl. Note: there are many incredible football movies out there, but the films on this list have been selected for their connection to the NFL (even tenuously!).
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Veteran coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) is faced with a crumbling career and personal life as the once-great Miami Sharks struggle to make the playoffs amid a quarterback injury crisis and dwindling attendances. D’Amato is on a collision course with the team’s cutthroat owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz), while off the field he is dealing with a failed marriage and estranged children. Can D’Amato summon the old magic and, with the help of unheralded third choice QB Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx), revive the Sharks’ fortunes?
Any Given Sunday is partly based on the 1984 novel On Any Given Sunday by NFL player Pat Toomay and is a fast-paced and action-packed movie. At times, it can be a bit overly dramatic, but the game sequences are well-made and the move itself is full of drama. Then there’s D’Amato’s famous speech that will get any football fan jumping off the sofa.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
When big-time sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) has a crisis of conscience and writes a heartfelt memo to his agency, he promptly finds himself fired and desperately scrambling to keep hold of his superstar clients. Inspired by his memo, Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) joins Maguire in his new venture and the pair duly fall in love. But only Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr), an ego-centric and underpaid wide receiver at the Arizona Cardinals, stays with Maguire as the agent struggles to make his business and love life work.
One of Tom Cruise’s most iconic films and roles, Jerry Maguire has stood the test of time thanks to its underlying redemption story and unmistakable on-camera chemistry between Cruise and Gooding Jr, and Cruise and Zellweger. It is also packed with quotable scenes, none more so than “Show me the money!”
The Blind Side (2009)
The remarkable true story of Michael Oher (played by Quinton Aaron), who after spending much of his childhood in foster care and living homeless, is accepted into the private Briarcrest Christian School on an athletic scholarship.
Parents at the school, Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) and Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw), recognize Oher’s struggles and after the family develop a strong connection with Oher, eventually adopt him and guide his education and burgeoning football career. Oher would go on to become a college star at the University of Mississippi and have a good NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and Carolina Panthers.
The Blind Side is a beautiful movie that constantly tugs at the heartstrings, with Bullock finally earning her Academy Award for Best Actress. The film provides a refreshing reminder of the importance of helping our fellow human beings and is a lesson in kindness and compassion.
Brian’s Song (1971)
An ABC Movie of the Week that has become a classic, Brian’s Song details the relationship between Chicago Bears player Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and teammate Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams). A friendship that helped break down racial barriers in football would develop into something much deeper after Piccolo is diagnosed with terminal cancer early in his career.
Brian’s Song has been called one of the ultimate “guy-cry” movies but don’t let that put you off if you’re trying to get pumped up for the Super Bowl. It is a story about friendship, about human connection, and about making a positive impact during our time on Earth.
Little Giants (1994)
After the emotional undertakings of The Blind Side and Brian’s Song, it’s time for a much more light-hearted experience with Little Giants.
A group of misfits who fail to make the elite peewee team of the Cowboys, band together to form their own team, coached by the elite team’s misfit brother. Little Giants follows the tried-and-tested kids sports movie template of the ‘losers’ who come together and against all hope take down the ‘baddies’ of the opposition team.
It’s fun, light-hearted and with comedic legends such as Rick Moranis (playing Giants coach Danny O’Shea) and Ed O’Neill (as Cowboys coach Kevin O’Shea), is packed with humor. Little Giants makes this list thanks to the official associations with the NFL franchises the peewee teams represent in the movie and some cameos from the likes of John Madden, Emmitt Smith, and Tim Brown.