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5 best football movies you should watch before the Super Bowl

Even though it’s the most watched TV event of the year, there are surprisingly few movies that focus on the Super Bowl. Those stories, as great as they might be, seem to be better told within the bounds of sports journalism.

There are plenty of great movies to watch to get you into the right mood for the Super Bowl, though, and almost all of them feature an underdog of one sort or another. Although these movies aren’t all about the NFL, all of them get at the spirit of football, and they’re great reminders of why we play and watch the game in the first place.

Rudy (1993)

Genre Drama, History
Stars Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
Directed by David Anspaugh

Everybody loves an underdog, and no underdog is more lovable than Rudy. Telling the true story of a boy who fights to escape a steel mill in order to play football at Notre Dame, Rudy is as inspirational and sappy as sports movies get.

Fortunately, few movies make their sentimental stories work better than Rudy, which is why the movie is ultimately such a success. Sean Astin is utterly compelling in the lead role, and Rudy itself is a reminder that at its best, football can lift people up and give them something to believe in. 

Rudy (1993) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Draft Day (2014)

Draft Day
Genre Drama
Stars Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Winning the Super Bowl is a moment of total glory, but all of that success starts months earlier and is very much based on how a team handles its draft. Following the general manager of the Cleveland Browns as the day of the draft approaches, we see that he’s on thin ice and needs to pull a miracle out in order to get his team the players they need. General managers rarely get showered in glory following a Super Bowl win, but how they handle days like the draft are what ultimately separates great teams from terrible ones. In Draft Day, we get a fun, albeit exaggerated, window into that process. 
Draft Day Official Trailer #1 (2014) - Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner Movie HD

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Jerry Maguire
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Directed by Cameron Crowe

While it’s true that Jerry Maguire is much more about the business of sports than the playing of the game, it remains the very best movie about sports agents ever made. The movie tells the story of a sports agent who grows a conscience and decides he wants to honestly represent his clients instead of angling for a bigger payday.

That decision alienates him from the entire sports world, and it’s also a reminder that the reason most people love sports is because of the stories we tell around the big game. Jerry Maguire is a romance, a sports story, and the kind of movie that Hollywood rarely makes anymore.

JERRY MAGUIRE [1996] - Official Trailer (HD)

Heaven Can Wait (1978)

Heaven Can Wait
Genre Fantasy, Comedy, Romance
Stars Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, James Mason
Directed by Warren Beatty, Buck Henry

Telling the story of a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams who is ripped from his body too early, Heaven Can Wait is an absurd comedy in which the quarterback’s soul returns to Earth in a new body, and attempts to train it into quarterbacking shape.

Thanks to a sharp script from co-director Buck Henry, this remake is genuinely funny and holds up well decades after its initial release. Football is also surprisingly central to the story as it unfolds, in part because Warren Beatty’s quarterback wants to get his new body in shape in time to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory.

Heaven Can Wait (1978) - Original Theatrical Trailer & Television Spots

Remember the Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans
Genre Drama
Stars Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris
Directed by Boaz Yakin

Thanks to a genuinely titanic performance from Denzel Washington, Remember the Titans will long be thought of as one of the great football movies ever made.

The film tells the story of the integration of an all-white school with an all-Black school, which meant integrating their football teams as well. The racial tensions that come spilling out are genuinely compelling, but what’s even better is the way Denzel’s coach character manages to break these boys down in order to build them up into something much greater than what they ever were before.

REMEMBER THE TITANS Trailer (2000) Denzel Washington Movie

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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