Special Report

The Best Football Movies of All Time

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

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.)

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

40. Wildcats (1986)
> IMDb user rating: 6.1/10 (12,950 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 49% (9,112 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 26% (19 reviews)
> Starring: Goldie Hawn, Swoosie Kurtz, Robyn Lively

This comedy stars Goldie Hawn as Molly McGrath, the daughter of a famous football coach who gets more than she bargains for when she leaves her comfortable job as a girls’ track coach at an affluent high school to head an inner city football team in Chicago.

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

39. Necessary Roughness (1991)
> IMDb user rating: 6.2/10 (11,229 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 46% (9,521 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 33% (30 reviews)
> Starring: Scott Bakula, Hector Elizondo, Robert Loggia

After a Texas college football team is banned from playing for a season and all but one of its players expelled, the school rushes to put together a new makeshift team from the general student body – to hilarious results.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

38. Everybody’s All-American (1988)
> IMDb user rating: 6.2/10 (3,146 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 47% (1,823 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 42% (31 reviews)
> Starring: Jessica Lange, Dennis Quaid, Timothy Hutton

Small-town college football hero Gavin Grey seems to have a bright future in the NFL. However, the realities of the fierce competitiveness and grueling schedule get the better of him and he struggles to find a new purpose in life.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

37. The Longshots (2008)
> IMDb user rating: 5.5/10 (4,265 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 61% (22,659 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 41% (71 reviews)
> Starring: Ice Cube, Keke Palmer, Tasha Smith

Based on a true story, this film follows 11-year-old Jasmine Plummer, who with the encouragement of her uncle becomes the first female quarterback to play in the Pop Warner football league.

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

36. The Longest Yard (2005)
> IMDb user rating: 6.4/10 (169,218 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 62% (32,774,364 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 31% (170 reviews)
> Starring: Adam Sandler, Burt Reynolds, Chris Rock

In this remake of a 1974 film (see No. 9), a disgraced former NFL quarterback ends up in prison and is approached by the warden to put together a team of inmates to play a big game against the sadistic prison guards.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

35. All the Right Moves (1983)
> IMDb user rating: 5.9/10 (17,742 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 39% (12,490 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 61% (23 reviews)
> Starring: Tom Cruise, Lea Thompson, Craig T. Nelson

High school football player Stefen Djordjevic dreams of escaping his dying Pennsylvania steel town by getting a college football scholarship. However, when his relationship with his coach sours, his prospects begin to crumble.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

34. The Game Plan (2007)
> IMDb user rating: 6.1/10 (61,897 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 69% (407,003 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 29% (103 reviews)
> Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Pettis

When a hotshot quarterback finds out he has an 8-year-old daughter, he falls short in his attempts to be a father – but his new daughter’s bravery keeps him on his toes and drives the relationship forward despite the odds.

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing

33. When the Game Stands Tall (2014)
> IMDb user rating: 6.7/10 (15,791 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 72% (21,192 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 20% (71 reviews)
> Starring: Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Michael Chiklis

Based on a true story, this film portrays how high school football coach Bob Ladouceur’s unique approach led the De La Salle High School Spartans of Concord, California, to set a new national record for the longest winning streak in high school football history.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

32. Little Giants (1994)
> IMDb user rating: 6.4/10 (27,479 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 63% (59,408 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 36% (11 reviews)
> Starring: Rick Moranis, Ed O’Neill, Shawna Waldron

When a self-important Pee-wee Football coach rejects his own niece during tryouts, she and her gang of misfit friends form their own team with her dad as the coach. The teams, headed by rival brothers, must now face off to decide which will represent the town in the state playoffs.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

31. The Waterboy (1998)
> IMDb user rating: 6.1/10 (154,911 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 71% (910,858 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 34% (76 reviews)
> Starring: Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Henry Winkler

“The Waterboy” follows a naive young man who, despite his social ineptitude, goes from being the waterboy for a college football team to a feared linebacker – against the wishes of his comically overprotective mother.

Source: Courtesy of Destination Films

30. Facing the Giants (2006)
> IMDb user rating: 6.6/10 (16,727 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (88,240 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 16% (25 reviews)
> Starring: Alex Kendrick, Shannen Fields, Jason McLeod

When a Christian high school football coach faces the prospect of termination after his team loses six consecutive seasons, he and his players must overcome their own personal obstacles and learn to rely on God to achieve their goals on and off the field.

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

29. Semi-Tough (1977)
> IMDb user rating: 5.9/10 (2,924 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 31% (1,307 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 82% (11 reviews)
> Starring: Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, Jill Clayburgh

A satire on the self-help movement, this film incorporates a parody of a popular ’70s transformation seminar as it portrays a love triangle between two football players and their roommate, Barbara Jane, who is also their coach’s daughter.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

28. The Replacements (2000)
> IMDb user rating: 6.6/10 (66,176 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 66% (159,821 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 41% (108 reviews)
> Starring: Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton

Inspired by the story of the 1987 NFL strike, “The Replacements” follows a ragtag group of substitute football players who are brought in to finish the season for a striking professional team.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

27. Varsity Blues (1999)
> IMDb user rating: 6.5/10 (43,933 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 76% (122,860 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 43% (56 reviews)
> Starring: James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight, Paul Walker

In a small, football-obsessed Texas town, the members of the high school football team struggle to live up to everyone’s expectations, especially those of their verbally abusive coach, whose life and philosophy center around winning at all costs.

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Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

26. Radio (2003)
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10 (41,770 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 79% (171,053 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 35% (122 reviews)
> Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris, Debra Winger

“Radio” is a semi-biographical film about James “Radio” Kennedy, a young man with intellectual disabilities who sparks a friendship with the local high school football coach, begins assisting at football practice, and becomes a beloved member of the community.

Source: Courtesy of Geffen Pictures

25. The Last Boy Scout (1991)
> IMDb user rating: 7.0/10 (97,352 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 68% (60,283 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 46% (37 reviews)
> Starring: Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans, Chelsea Field

When a private investigator’s witness is murdered, he teams up with her boyfriend, an ex-quarterback, and uncovers a web of corruption involving a crooked politician and a pro-football team.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

24. The Program (1993)
> IMDb user rating: 6.5/10 (10,066 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 80% (12,026 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 43% (21 reviews)
> Starring: James Caan, Halle Berry, Omar Epps

An All-American college football team, led by talented QB Joe Kane, is under pressure to win against their rival school while simultaneously struggling with their studies, their families, and the temptations of alcohol and steroids.

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

23. Draft Day (2014)
> IMDb user rating: 6.8/10 (57,236 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 65% (35,152 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 60% (162 reviews)
> Starring: Kevin Costner, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner

On the day of the NFL Draft, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns frantically trades for the No. 1 pick, while managing the pressures of ownership, family, and his own team.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

22. Any Given Sunday (1999)
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10 (115,431 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 73% (138,971 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 52% (124 reviews)
> Starring: Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz

A struggling pro football team gets a second chance at glory when two quarterbacks are injured and their third-string proves to be a powerhouse. Along the way, their coach must face his future prospects amidst a power struggle with the team’s new owner.

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Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

21. Gridiron Gang (2006)
> IMDb user rating: 7.1/10 (77,961 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 81% (286,881 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 42% (102 reviews)
> Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Xzibit, L. Scott Caldwell

At a juvenile detention center, counselor Sean Porter forms a football team from a group of troubled kids, teaching them the value of teamwork and discipline while they compete in a league before heading back out onto the streets of L.A.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

20. School Ties (1992)
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10 (23,363 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 68% (34,584 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 60% (40 reviews)
> Starring: Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O’Donnell

When a Jewish teen from a working class family is accepted into a prestigious New England prep school because of his football prowess, he quickly becomes friends with the school’s star athletes – but tensions rise when his heritage comes to light.

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

19. We Are Marshall (2006)
> IMDb user rating: 7.0/10 (62,550 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 79% (202,817 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 48% (126 reviews)
> Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Anthony Mackie

“We Are Marshall” is based on the tragedy of the 1970 Marshall University football team, most of whom were killed in a devastating plane crash. The film follows a surviving player and the new coach as they work to rebuild the team.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

18. Black Sunday (1977)
> IMDb user rating: 6.8/10 (7,391 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 65% (3,913 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 70% (27 reviews)
> Starring: Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, Marthe Keller

When terrorists plan to infiltrate a packed stadium during the Super Bowl with the aim of blowing up a blimp over the crowd, two counter-terrorism experts must race against time to foil the plot.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

17. Concussion (2015)
> IMDb user rating: 7.1/10 (96,435 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 74% (32,813 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 58% (207 reviews)
> Starring: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks

Based on the 2009 exposé “Game Brain” by Jeanne Marie Laskas, “Concussion” details the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-American pathologist who fights against the National Football League’s denial of a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

16. 80 for Brady (2023)
> IMDb user rating: 5.8/10 (4,954 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (2,500 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 60% (122 reviews)
> Starring: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field

Inspired by the story of four best friends and New England Patriots fans who would do anything to meet Tom Brady, this comedy follows a group of spirited older women as they win tickets to the Super Bowl and run into numerous obstacles on their way there.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

15. The Express (2008)
> IMDb user rating: 7.2/10 (22,275 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 75% (820,228 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 62% (121 reviews)
> Starring: Rob Brown, Dennis Quaid, Clancy Brown

Based on the life of college football star Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy, “The Express” follows Davis from his childhood to his years at Syracuse University, where he led the team to a national championship in 1960 despite the racism he faced both on and off the field.

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

14. Lucas (1986)
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10 (15,396 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 70% (13,292 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 71% (21 reviews)
> Starring: Corey Haim, Kerri Green, Charlie Sheen

Lucas, a shy and awkward 14-year-old, finds solace in books, daydreaming, and his friendship with the school’s star football player. When he develops a crush on the new girl in town, Lucas joins the football team to win her attention.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

13. Invincible (2006)
> IMDb user rating: 7.0/10 (72,150 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 73% (87,684 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 72% (136 reviews)
> Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks

“Invincible” is based on the story of Vince Papale, a struggling 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who became an unlikely member of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976 after the team’s new coach held an open tryout.

Source: Courtesy of Pure Flix Entertainment

12. Woodlawn (2015)
> IMDb user rating: 6.4/10 (7,403 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 81% (9,845 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 73% (15 reviews)
> Starring: Caleb Castille, Sean Astin, Jon Voight

Inspired by the youth of NFL player Tony Nathan, “Woodlawn” follows a high school football team in Birmingham, Alabama, as they struggle to come together in the wake of desegregation, until the power of their faith unites them.

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

11. North Dallas Forty (1979)
> IMDb user rating: 7.0/10 (5,035 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 70% (2,529 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 84% (25 reviews)
> Starring: Nick Nolte, Charles Durning, Mac Davis

A satire on the excesses of the world of professional football in the ’70s, “North Dallas Forty” follows a wide receiver who relies on painkillers, as his rebellious demeanor threatens his future in the game.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

10. Heaven Can Wait (1978)
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10 (19,919 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 68% (13,245 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 88% (42 reviews)
> Starring: Warren Beatty, James Mason, Julie Christie

“Heaven Can Wait” is a comedy-fantasy about a Los Angeles Rams quarterback who, after being mistakenly taken to heaven, fights to prove he still has life left in him and is returned to Earth in the body of a murdered millionaire.

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

9. The Longest Yard (1974)
> IMDb user rating: 7.1/10 (18,055 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 75% (81,360 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 79% (34 reviews)
> Starring: Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, Ed Lauter

The sadistic warden of a Texas penitentiary asks an incarcerated former football star to assemble a team of convicts to play against the prison guards – only to inform him that his freedom hinges on the inmates losing the match.

Source: Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

8. Greater (2016)
> IMDb user rating: 7.3/10 (6,455 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (3,191 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 67% (15 reviews)
> Starring: Neal McDonough, Leslie Easterbrook, Christopher Severio

“Greater” follows the dedication of walk-on college football player Brandon Burlsworth, as he perseveres through ridicule about his weight to become one of the best players his team has ever seen – only to be killed in a car crash 11 days after being drafted into the NFL.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

7. The Blind Side (2009)
> IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (336,377 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (431,935 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 66% (206 reviews)
> Starring: Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw

Based on the 2006 book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis, this film details the youth of NFL player Michael Oher, a homeless teenager taken in by a wealthy family who eventually become his legal guardians.

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Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

6. Jerry Maguire (1996)
> IMDb user rating: 7.3/10 (252,443 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 79% (442,557 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 84% (87 reviews)
> Starring: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger

When sports agent Jerry Maguire has a crisis of conscience, he writes a mission statement vowing to put clients first. He soon finds himself on his own and must fight to save his career and relationships, including his romance with a single mother.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

5. Friday Night Lights (2004)
> IMDb user rating: 7.2/10 (64,155 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (185,883 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 82% (173 reviews)
> Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Jay Hernandez, Derek Luke

“Friday Night Lights” follows the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team from the economically depressed and racially divided town of Odessa, Texas, as they compete for the state championship with the hopes of the whole town riding on their shoulders.

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Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

4. Rudy (1993)
> IMDb user rating: 7.5/10 (64,886 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (127,331 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 78% (46 reviews)
> Starring: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty

Born in a steel mill town, Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger dreams of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite having low grades, no money for college, and a diminutive physique. Determined to follow his dreams, however, he works tirelessly to make it onto the team.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

3. Remember the Titans (2000)
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (218,344 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (578,366 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 73% (135 reviews)
> Starring: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris

“Remember the Titans” details the racial integration of a Virginia high school in 1971 through the lens of the school’s football team as the Black head coach and white defensive coordinator work together for the good of the team and urge the boys to overcome their differences.

Source: Courtesy of Pathé Exchange

2. The Freshman (1925)
> IMDb user rating: 7.5/10 (5,067 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 78% (250 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (18 reviews)
> Starring: Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Brooks Benedict

Harold Lamb, a naive college student, will do anything to be popular and win the love of his crush, including becoming the football team’s new tackling dummy and water boy.

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1. Horse Feathers (1932)
> IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (12,397 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 87% (8,112 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (29 reviews)
> Starring: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx

Barbs fly in this screwball comedy as the new president of Huxley College tries to enlist some professional football players to help his team win a big game, but mistakenly hires two bumbling bootleggers.

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