Football movies will always hold a special place in the heart of a football fan. They help satisfy that football craving we all get in the middle of the week when players are resting, but even more so when the offseason rolls around and we’re forced to go months without the sport we love.
Let’s be honest, the only thing better than watching your favorite team on football Sunday with an abundance of pizza and wings is watching your favorite football movie in a dimmed room with an abundance of popcorn – or better yet, a full-day marathon of your favorite football movies.
Whether you have two hours to kill or an entire day to kill, we highly suggest taking some time for yourself, sitting back, kicking your feet up, and glueing yourself to one of the many amazing football movies available today. It’s the perfect way to wind down after a long (or short) day!
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What Are the Best Football Movies?
The best football movies are those that are inspiring, motivating, authentic, and intense. They have the best cinematography, the best dialogue, the best gameplay, the best storyline, and the best actors or actresses. They draw you in with football, but keep you interested with drama.
Some football movies are based on a true story, some are considered documentaries, and some are completely made-up. Some football movies are supposed to be funny, some are supposed to be serious, and some football movies are supposed to be a combination of the two.
Either way, there are certain football movies that we remember more than others. They’re the ones we find ourselves watching over and over again, even though we can recite every line. Without further ado, let’s take a look at our favorite, most memorable football movies of all-time.
20. Gridiron Gang (2006)
Gridiron Gang is a sports drama starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Xzibit. It was directed by Phil Joanou and released in 2006. It follows the true story of the Kilpatrick Mustangs, a football team that represented Camp Kilpatrick – a juvenile detention camp in Santa Monica.
Looking for a way to help the juveniles, Sean Porter (played by The Rock) creates a football team. Although conflict arises early and often with the team, they eventually learn to play together and start winning. If you’re looking for a feel-good football drama, this is a good one.
19. Concussion (2015)
Concussion is a biographical sports drama directed by Peter Landesman and released in 2015. It follows the groundbreaking research of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the scientist responsible for detecting signs and symptoms of CTE brain degeneration in deceased ex-football players.
Despite his findings, the NFL rejects and dismisses the idea. This leads to a long fight between Omalu (played by Will Smith) and the NFL. Eventually, the NFL opens up to the idea and begins an ongoing effort to protect the long-term health of players. If you like sports science, watch it!
18. Undefeated (2011)
Undefeated is a sports documentary that was released in 2011. Directed by Dianiel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, the documentary follows the hardships and difficult times of the Manassas Tigers – a high school football team from Memphis, Tennessee. They recorded 500+ hours of footage.
After years of suffering losing seasons, the Tigers are determined to turn things around with head coach Bill Courtney. He not only turns the team into a winning team on the field, but also in the classroom. If you love a good documentary, this one will certainly satisfy your unique taste.
17. The Express: The Ernie Davis Story (2008)
Produced by John Davis and directed by Gary Fleder, The Express was released in 2008 and follows the story of Ernie Davis – the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. He did so with Syracuse University in 1961 and was selected first overall in the 1962 NFL Draft.
Throughout the movie, you get a taste of the racism and discrimination Davis (along with other black athletes) faced. If you don’t know who Ernie Davis is or want to relive his legacy, this film will teach you everything you need to know. It was also Chadwick Boseman’s film debut.
16. Any Given Sunday (1999)
Any Given Sunday is a star-studded sports film directed by Oliver Stone and released in 1999. It follows a fictitious pro football team (Miami Sharks) that play in the Associated Football Franchises of America (AFFA) and are looking to regain relevance after years of struggling.
The cast features Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, LL Cool J, James Woods, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Johnny Unitas, Terrell Owens, and Emmitt Smith. If you like a big-name cast and plenty of athlete cameos, then this is the right sports film for you.
15. Brian’s Song (1971)
Brian’s Song is a highly coveted sports biography directed by Buzz Kulik and released in 1971. It recounts the unexpected, yet amazing friendship shared between Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo – the first interracial roommates in NFL history. It’s a film that will make any man cry.
Sayers and Piccolo weren’t forced to become friends, but it didn’t take long for their friendship to grow. That friendship was cut short with the passing of Brian Piccolo after years of struggling with terminal cancer. The film recounts the stories in Sayers’ 1970 autobiography, I Am Third.
14. Draft Day (2014)
Draft Day is a sports drama directed by Ivan Reitman and released in 2014. It stars Kevin Costner as the GM of the Cleveland Browns. After landing himself on the hot seat with a questionable trade, Costner makes a series of moves that save his reputation with the team.
As a fan, there’s nothing we love more than watching behind-the-scenes footage of what the front office is doing. Although Draft Day is a fictional story, it does a great job of showing what the draft process is like and all the smoke and mirrors general managers have to deal with.
13. North Dallas Forty (1979)
Instead of giving an inside look at the life of a GM, North Dallas Forty gives an inside look at the life of a football player – in the 1970s, at least. The film was directed by Ted Kotcheff, produced by Frank Yablans, and released in 1979. It stars Nick Nolt, G. D. Spradlin, and Mac Davis.
The movie follows an aging wide receiver, Phil Elliott, and quarterback, Seth Maxwell, who find themselves mesmerized by the party lifestyle of the ‘70s. Although they both get caught doing sketchy things, Elliott’s the only one that gets punished and he eventually quits the game.
12. The Blind Side (2009)
The Blind Side is an extremely popular film directed by John Lee Hancock and released in 2009. It’s based on a true story and is modeled after The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis – a book released in 2006. It stars Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, and Quinton Aaron.
It tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless student that’s eventually adopted to a well-off family. He overcomes a life full of struggle to play in the NFL thanks in large part to the support of his new family. This movie makes you laugh, cry, cheer, worry, and everything in-between.
11. Invincible (2006)
Invincible is a feel-good sports film directed by Ericson Core and released in 2006. It’s based on a true story and follows the unexpected rise of Vince Papale from part-time bartender to NFL player. It’s a story that proves anything is possible, so long as you’re willing to fight for it.
With new head coach Dick Vermeil looking to turn the Philadelphia Eagles’ franchise around, Papale eyes an opportunity at an NFL roster spot after joining training camp on an open tryout. He ends up making the team and enjoys a three-year career with the Eagles before retiring.
10. Little Giants (1994)
Little Giants is a family sports comedy classic directed by Duwayne Dunham and released in 1994. It stars Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill, who play two brothers that coach rival pee-wee football teams in Urbania, Ohio. This movie will definitely have you laughing your buttocks off.
Moranis and O’Neill lived two completely different lives. While Moranis owns a gas station, O’Neill was once a Heisman Trophy winner and now owns a Chevy dealership. The two go head-to-head when their pee-wee teams face off in an epic, hilarious football showdown.
9. The Waterboy (1998)
The Waterboy is another classic sports comedy that will leave you in tears – the good kind. Directed by Frank Coraci and released in 1998, this movie stars Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, and many of the cast members that make Adam Sandler movies so perfect in every way.
Originally the waterboy for the University of Louisville football team, Bobby Boucher (played by Sandler) eventually joins the team and helps bring them to relevance. His quirky ways and the hilarious one-liners from start to finish will have you dying of laughter – so be fully prepared!
8. The Replacements (2000)
The Replacements is a sports comedy directed by Howard Deutch, produced by Dylan Sellers, and released in 2000. It stars Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman and is based on the 1987 NFL strike that saw the Washington Redskins win three straight games with replacement players.
The film loosely follows that team and how they overcame the odds in an anything-but-usual 1987 season. The Redskins went on to win the Super Bowl that season, capping off an improbable year. If you want to see Reeves play a quarterback, this is the movie for you.
7. Radio (2003)
Radio is a semi-biographical sports drama loosely based on the story of Harold Jones, head coach of T.L. Hanna High School football team, and James Robert Kennedy, a mentally handicapped 23-year-old. The film was directed by Michael Tollin and released in 2003.
Jones befriends Kennedy and allows him to assist with the football team, acting as a mascot and motivation before games. With that said, not everyone treats Radio with respect and Jones has to come to his savior several times. It’s a beautiful story and is depicted perfectly.
6. We Are Marshall (2006)
We Are Marshall is a biographical sports drama directed by McG, produced by Basil Iwanyk, and released in 2006. It stars Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox as head coach and assistant coach of the Marshall University Thundering Herd. It’s a true masterpiece of a film.
The movie follows the aftermath of the plane crash that killed 37 players – among other members – on the Marshall football team in 1970. Under the leadership of new head coach Jack Lengyel, the team bounces back and competes in the 1971 season despite early resistance.
5. The Longest Yard (1974 & 2005)
The Longest Yard is a sports comedy originally directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Burt Reynolds in 1974. A popular remake was directed by Peter Segal and starred Adam Sandler in 2005. Both films were successful in their own right, though they followed the same story.
In both films, a former NFL quarterback finds himself in prison for 18 months. While in prison, he assembles a football team that eventually plays against the prison’s guards. In an unexpected turn of events, the prisoners win the game and the guards are left stunned and embarrassed.
4. Remember the Titans (2000)
2000 was a good year for football movies because it not only produced The Replacements, but also Remember the Titans – a biographical sports film directed by Boaz Yakin and starring Denzel Washington. If you love a feel-good football movie, don’t underestimate this classic.
The film follows Herman Boone, the new head coach of T. C. Williams High School, as he tries to integrate the black and white players. Racial tensions run high and the team faces a number of conflicts early on, but the team ultimately prevails and they learn to work together as one.
3. Friday Night Lights (2004)
Friday Night Lights is a very popular sports classic directed by Peter Berg, modeled after a 1990 book by H.G. Bissinger, and released in 2004. It was so popular that it was turned into a five-season, 76-episode television series that drew even more attention than the book or movie.
The film follows the 1988 Permian High School football team of Odessa, Texas in their quest for a state championship. Despite drama and conflict on every corner, the team makes it to the championship game only to lose in the final seconds of a truly heartbreaking game for Permian.
2. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Jerry Maguire is a sports comedy-drama starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. as the eccentric wide receiver-agent duo. The film was written and directed by Cameron Crowe, produced by James L. Brooks, and released in 1996. It’s a classic, to say the least.
Star receiver Rod Tidwell is due for a new contract and expects his agent, Jerry Maguire, to deliver at least $10 million. The relationship between the two is filled with ups and downs, but Tidwell’s play and Maguire’s finesse help secure him an $11.2 million contract in Arizona.
1. Rudy (1993)
Speaking of true classics, Rudy is one of the most well-known and beloved football movies of all-time. It’s a biographical football film directed by David Anspaugh and released in 1993. It follows the story of Daniel Ruettiger and his dream of one day playing for Notre Dame.
After several years of being rejected by Notre Dame, he eventually gets admitted and earns a spot on the practice squad. He finally gets a chance to play in the final game of his senior year. He played one snap, the final snap of the game, and sacked the quarterback as time expired.
Don’t Forget About the Best Football TV Shows!
The 20 football movies we highlighted above are all worth watching at least once, but true football fans will watch them on repeat until they can recite the movie line by line. Whether you played football growing up or not, these football movies are bound to put you in the mood.
With that said, we can’t forget about all the great football TV shows for those days when you need something to binge. Some of the most popular shows of all-time include Friday Night Lights, Blue Mountain State, Ballers, All or Nothing, The League, Coach, and The Game.
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Whether you like to watch a two-hour football movie or indulge yourself in a multi-season long football TV show, football fans have plenty of options to satisfy those football cravings when the live game isn’t on. Don’t worry, these movies and TV shows aren’t going anywhere!
10 John Cena Movies That Are Too Hysterical Not to Watch on Repeat
There’s nothing we love more than making some popcorn, getting comfortable on the sofa, and putting on one of the many funny John Cena movies. His acting is only getting better and his movies are only getting funnier, even the ones where he only plays a small or background role.
Cena was born and raised in Massachusetts and attended Springfield College, where he played football and was an All-American center. He graduated from Springfield in 1999 with a degree in exercise physiology and immediately began to pursue a career as a professional wrestler.
After one year with Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW), Cena started to make his early appearances for WWE in 2001. He won the WWE United States Championship in 2004 and his wrestling career took off from there. While he’s nearing retirement, he still has plenty of acting left in him.
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Ranking the Funniest John Cena Movies of All-Time
John Cena’s acting career began in the early-2000s and mostly consisted of films produced by WWE and small guest appearances. By the turn of the decade, he started to receive bigger roles in some popular television shows and kids movies. This helped spur his acting career.
2015 was a big year for John Cena movies, especially in the comedy niche. In fact, three of the John Cena movies we’re going to highlight were released in 2015 and all but one of them was released in the past six years. As you can see, his acting career went from 0 to 100 real quick.
By now, you’re likely wondering what the funniest John Cena movies of all-time are. Don’t worry, we’ve got the goods and we’ll warn you now — it might be a good idea to start making some popcorn now because you’re going to want to start binge-watching these movies right away.
10. Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania
Directed By: Henry Yu
John Cena’s Role: J.C. (voice)
Box Office: $1.2 million
Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania was the sequel to the 2007 film Surf’s Up. While John Cena wasn’t involved in the first one, he was featured as a member of ‘The Hang 5’ — a group of one sea otter and four penguins that love to surf and would consider themselves thrillseekers.
Other members of ‘The Hang Five’ include Vince McMahon, The Undertaker, Hunter, and Paige — all WWE superstars at the time of release. It was one of four major films — and one of two as a voice actor — that John Cena worked on in 2017 after being cast in three major films in 2015.
The movie follows Cody Maverick, Lani Aliikai, Chicken Joe, and Tank Evans as they tag along with ‘The Hang Five’ in their pursuit of a legendary 50-ft wave. John Cena’s character has a blonde mohawk, green wristbands, dog tags, and camo shorts. Sounds like John Cena to me!
Click here to purchase Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania.
9. Psych: The Movie
Directed By: Steve Franks
John Cena’s Role: Ewan O’Hara
Psych: The Movie was a 2017 film based on the popular television series, Psych, which came to an end in 2014. The movie follows the same main characters — Shawn, Juliet, and Gus — from the TV series, but three years in the future after they relocated to San Francisco in 2014.
In the movie, Shawn and Gus attempt to find out who shot Juliet’s partner. In the meantime, Shawn tries to find his grandmother’s engagement ring so he can get married and Gus runs into problems with his boss. Along the way, they meet up with old friends and have a few laughs.
John Cena’s character, Ewan O’Hara, is Juliet’s brother. He’s a member of the United States Military and made one appearance in the main television series (in the same role). In the movie, he only makes one brief appearance in the end, but he makes his limited screen time worth it.
Click here to purchase Psych: The Movie.
8. The Suicide Squad
Directed By: James Gunn
John Cena’s Role: Peacemaker
Box Office: $167.4 million
The Suicide Squad is the second film based on the popular team of superheros in the DC Extended Universe. While John Cena wasn’t in the first one, he was cast as Peacemaker in the second one — which was released in 2021. It was his first superhero role and he made it count.
As a member of the Suicide Squad, Peacemaker is tasked with covering up the United States’ involvement in Starro. After Peacemaker learns that Ratcatcher 2 knows the truth about Starro, he attempts to take her out. Before he can, Bloodsport shoots Peacemaker and takes off.
Throughout the rest of the film, it was unknown whether Peacemaker was dead or alive. In the post-credits, however, he was shown to be alive. It was later announced that Peacemaker would be given his own spinoff show in 2022. The show will also be directed by James Gunn.
Click here to purchase The Suicide Squad.
Directed By: Jason Moore
John Cena’s Role: Pazuzu
Box Office: $105 million
Sisters was a 2015 film directed by Jason Moore and was the second major film starring both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — two actresses that became quite the power duo in the movie industry. It was also one of John Cena’s first breakout roles in the comedy film niche.
The movie follows two sisters — a single mother and a recently-divorced nurse — who are asked to clean out their childhood bedrooms at their parent’s house before they sell it. The sisters end up throwing one last party at the home, but things quickly take a destructive turn for the worse.
Cena’s character, Pazuzu, is a drug-dealing friend of Dave, one of the party’s guests. He was invited because the sisters wanted marijuana. His character is known for his intimidating appearance and his massive selection of drugs — which includes birth control and Plan B.
Click here to purchase Sisters.
Directed By: Carlos Saldanha
John Cena’s Role: Ferdinand (voice)
Box Office: $296.1 million
Ferdinand is a 2017 computer-animated film directed by Carlos Saldanha. It loosely follows the 1936 children’s book, The Story of Ferdinand, by Robert Lawson and Munro Leaf. It follows the story of a giant bull that’s taken from his home and is destined to find his way back to his family.
Ferdinand, who is voiced by John Cena, is often mistaken as a big, bad, fighter due to his size. In reality, he’s a kind-hearted bull with a gentle soul. After being taken from his home, he assembles a group of misfits that embark on the ultimate adventure. It’s a beautiful story.
In fact, there was never a question about who would voice Ferdinand. Saldanha said he knew right away that John Cena was the man for the job. Cena’s larger-than-necessary body, but big heart and kind soul fit Ferdinand’s character perfectly. It was perfect for Cena and he nailed it.
Click here to purchase Ferdinand.
5. Playing With Fire
Directed By: Andy Fickman
John Cena’s Role: Jake Carson
Box Office: $69.4 million
Playing With Fire was a 2019 comedy film starring John Cena as Jake Carson, a proud and talented Superintendent of a team of smokejumpers — which consists of Mark Rodgers, Rodrigo Torres, and Axe. Cena was excellent in the film and he displayed his ability as a comedic actor.
After saving three children from a burning cabin, Carson learns he’s being promoted to his dream job as Division Commander. At the same time, Carson learns that he and his team must now watch over the three children they saved until they’re handed off to a parent or guardian.
Throughout the movie, the team of smokejumpers bond and eventually learn that the children are orphans running away from their foster home. Before calling Child Services, Carson throws a huge birthday party for one of the children and ends up adopting them by the end of the movie.
Click here to purchase Playing With Fire.
4. Daddy’s Home
Directed By: Sean Anders
John Cena’s Role: Roger
Box Office: $242.8 million
Daddy’s Home is a 2015 comedy film directed by Sean Anders and starring both Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. It was their second collaboration after their successful movie The Other Guys. It’s a funny movie with a good plot and it’s executed perfectly by both Ferrell and Wahlberg.
The movie follows a story of a stepfather (Ferrell) trying to earn the respect of his wife’s children, but he’s constantly interrupted by the children’s biological father (Wahlberg). The two eventually become friends, but Wahlberg’s character remarries and finds himself in a similar situation.
John Cena’s appearance in Daddy’s Home was just a small cameo, but he made the most out of it and people quickly fell in love with his character and storyline. He left quite the impression and it turned into a much bigger role in the sequel — which we’ll discuss next on this list.
Click here to purchase Daddy’s Home.
3. Daddy’s Home 2
Directed By: Sean Anders
John Cena’s Role: Roger
Box Office: $180.6 million
Two years after the release of Daddy’s Home, Sean Anders directed Daddy’s Home 2 and gave John Cena a bigger role — much at the request of viewers and fans. At the start of the movie, Brad and Dusty (Ferrell and Wahlberg) were friends and were co-dads to Dusty’s children.
After learning that one of the children doesn’t like Christmas anymore due to dual arrangement, Brad and Dusty decide to have a joint Christmas. Things quickly go sour when Brad and Dusty’s fathers come into town, leaving their relationship strained at one point in the movie.
In an attempt to get back at Dusty, Brad decides to invite Roger (John Cena) over for the festivities. Much like he had in the first film, Roger intimidates Dusty the same way Dusty intimidated Brad. By the end of the movie, everyone learns to accept and appreciate each other.
Click here to purchase Daddy’s Home 2.
Directed By: Judd Apatow
John Cena’s Role: Steven
Box Office: $140.8 million
Trainwreck is a 2015 comedy film directed by Judd Apatow and starring both Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. While they’re the main characters in the film, the real star of the movie turned out to be John Cena, who was cast as the muscular boyfriend of Amy Schumer’s character.
Trainwreck is the OG among funny John Cena movies. While it’s not the first comedy he did, it’s the first one where he truly wowed the movie industry with his comedic ability. He showcased his ability to improvise and it was later revealed that most of his lines in the film weren’t written.
While Amy Schumer’s character eventually ends up with Bill Hader’s character — a renowned sports doctor — Cena’s presence in the film was enough to warrant it as his second funniest role of all-time. It’s what helped him earn the many opportunities that followed in the comedy niche.
Click here to watch Trainwreck.
Directed By: Kay Cannon
John Cena’s Role: Mitchell Manners
Box Office: $94 million
Blockers is a 2018 comedy film directed by Kay Cannon in her directorial debut. John Cena stars alongside Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz as three overprotective parents with teenage daughters that are preparing for prom night. Cena is as funny as ever as Mitchell Manners.
The three parents learn of their daughters’ plan to lose their virginity on prom night — something they’re committed to preventing, or blocking. The parents follow their daughters from one party to the next in hopes of cockblocking them, but they run into a myriad of obstacles along the way.
While two of the daughters eventually hook up with their dates, they refused to go all the way with sex — one of them gave a handjob and the other received oral sex. The third daughter ended up coming out as gay. The entire experience brought everyone closer together.
Click here to purchase Blockers.
Other John Cena Movies That Are Worth Watching
Although the most popular John Cena movies today are his comedy films, they’re not the only roles he has in his repertoire. Well before he made it as a comedy actor, he was featured in a variety of WWE films, wrestling dramas, and eventually war movies, action films, and more.
Some of his best films that don’t fall in the comedy niche include The Wall (2017), Bumblebee (2018), Legendary (2010), 12 Rounds (2009), The Marine (2006), Dolittle (2020), and F9 (2021). He was also cast in Fred: The Movie, but that movie is largely viewed as a massive failure.
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Not only that, but John Cena has made appearances on several television shows, including Psych, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Saturday Night Live, Hannah Montana, American Grit, and much more. That’s right, his acting goes well beyond the John Cena movies above!
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