Posted: Friday August 25, 2006 9:34AM; Updated: Friday August 25, 2006 11:46AM
6.All the Right Moves (1983): The film that taught an entire generation the fundamentals of defensive-back technique: Play the ball, not the man. A young Tom Cruise, who also appeared in Risky Business and The Outsiders that year, believably plays Stef, a high school football player desperate to earn a college scholarship as a way out of his dying Pennsylvania steel-belt town. Craig T. Nelson, years before the broad laughs of Coach, plays the hard-nosed coach. Lea Thompson is the hometown girlfriend who doubtless inspired many band-camp fantasies. Stef gets kicked off the team at midseason but still manages to land that elusive full ride thanks to his girlfriend's intercession with the coach's wife.
7.Jerry Maguire (1996): Cruise stars as Maguire in the film that improbably proved that a sports agent can have a heart. This Cruise is older and slicker than the All the Right Moves version but still years away from the couch-hopping madman that's loose these days. Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar as fast-talking ("Show me the money!") wide receiver Rod Tidwell, while the dependable Cameron Crowe wrote and directed. At its base, though, this is as much a love story as a football tale and reminds us that Renee Zellweger didn't always have a British accent.
8.Heaven Can Wait (1978): Once upon a time, Warren Beatty was Hollywood's biggest heartthrob. (Just ask him.) He certainly helped his case with this yarn about a Rams quarterback who is called prematurely to heaven. He returns to the body of a tycoon and promptly buys the team, leading it to the Super Bowl a year before Vince Ferragamo did to enable sportswriters to churn out a series of truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards.
9.Friday Night Lights (2004): If it's not quite as good as the classic nonfiction book of the same name, that's no slight. Billy Bob Thornton hits all the right notes as the high school football coach in a West Texas town that loves its Permian High Panthers -- perhaps a bit too much. Tim McGraw steals his scenes as a washed-up former player who takes his frustrations out on his running-back son. If you're not rooting full-throttle for the Panthers in their showdown with powerhouse Dallas Carter, you probably remained stoic when Bambi's mother died.
10.Remember the Titans (2000): Yes, the film unfolds in full-cliché Disney mode. But Denzel Washington as the black coach put in charge of the football team at a newly integrated Virginia high school in 1971 and Will Patton as the white coach who must swallow his pride as an assistant make it work. Don't miss My Name Is Earl's Ethan Suplee as a white newcomer to the team and town who bonds with his black teammates through the power of Motown.
Honorable mention:School Ties, Everybody's All-American, Any Given Sunday, Radio, The Waterboy, Semi-Tough, Wildcats, Paper Lion, Gus,Varsity Blues