Football is the most popular sport in the U.S., with nearly 75% of Americans watching or following it. And it can be a year-round occupation: After the season ends, football fans can relive the glory of the game by watching gridiron-themed movies, most of which glorify the virtues of teamwork and perseverance. (Here’s a ranking of the highest-grossing sports movies ever made.)
To determine the best football movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of April 2023, weighting all ratings equally. Documentaries were not considered. Cast credits are from IMDb.
Click here to read about the greatest football movies ever made
These movies feature not only professional teams and players, but also college and high school teams. Coaches, both protective and abusive, figure prominently into some films, while others focus on an underdog player who gets their chance to shine. Many are inspiring stories of people and teams overcoming adversity, while some also reveal the hubris that comes along with fame, or the politics behind team selection.
Many of the best football movies are based on real people and events, from NFL players who overcame troubled childhoods, to high school teams that integrated during the civil rights movement, facing racism and finding unity through their shared love of the game. (These are the best sports movies based on real events.)
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