Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Football Dramas That Fans Of The Blind Side Should Watch Next

Based on the incredible true story of offensive lineman Michael Oher, "The Blind Side" is a film that hit all the right notes. Starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, and Kathy Bates, the film received awards recognition with an Oscar nomination for best picture and a best actress win for Sandra Bullock as Michael's mother, Leigh Anne.

Much like the game itself, films about football can be full of drama and emotion. Whether it is the story of a plucky underdog overcoming insurmountable odds, exploring the behind-the-scenes politics and tactics, or delving into the passionate fan culture, the best football films have something for everybody.

Even if you don't follow the high drama of the National Football League or college football, there is something universally beloved about these films, as they often tap into the strength of the human spirit as much as they do the game. "The Blind Side" is certainly an example of this, as viewers see Michael overcoming the difficulties of his past to become a star in the NFL, thanks to his untapped natural talent, plus the love and support of his adoptive parents.

They may occasionally veer into cliches, but that is all part of the charm. Football dramas could be considered their own unique sub-genre, and if you're a fan of "The Blind Side," these are some more similar films that you should definitely check out.

Draft Day

A bunch of people sitting in a boardroom making decisions about who to sign to play on their team might not seem like the most engaging premise, but if you have ever watched the NFL draft, you will know it is full of high drama. Whether it is the sought-after first-round pick, the underdogs picked up in the later rounds who go on to become stars, or just the politics of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans and trades between teams, there is plenty of subject matter for a drama film.

After pulling off a huge trade, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner), controls the coveted number one pick. With pressure mounting to make the crucial decision, Sonny shocks everyone by picking linebacker Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) over the projected number one pick, quarterback Bo Callahan (Josh Pence).

"Draft Day" allows us to peek behind the curtains of what it might be like in those rooms, taking the business and tactical decisions behind constructing a winning football team and turning it into a high-stakes drama that takes a very different approach to most football films. During the draft itself, the ticking clock that signals the team's allotted time to make their pick proves to be a highly effective narrative device, creating tension and resulting in a surprisingly nail-biting and highly enjoyable film.


One of the best underdog stories, 1993's "Rudy" stars a young Sean Astin as Rudy Ruettiger who dreams of playing football for Notre Dame. However, the odds are stacked against him almost across the board as his academic struggles and lack of natural athletic prowess see him struggle to get into the prestigious school. However, what he lacks in these areas, Rudy more than makes up for in hope, humility, and perseverance.

Based on a true story, "Rudy" has all the makings of a classic feel-good drama, and it has frequently been recognized as one of the best sports films, with ESPN placing it in their list of the 25 greatest, and AFI listing it as one of the most inspiring films of all time. As well as Astin, "Rudy" includes performances from a youthful-looking Jon Favreau as Rudy's friend, D-Bob, and Vince Vaughn as fellow teammate Jamie O'Hara.

What sets "Rudy" apart is that he doesn't suddenly become an inexplicably great player and change the team's fortunes single-handedly –- his goal is just to make the team and play in one game. The moment when Rudy finally takes the field and sacks the opposing team's quarterback is joyous and a collective moment of elation for anyone who has ever been told they're too small or not good enough.

Remember the Titans

Set amidst the racial tensions of the 1970s, a high school decides to hire black coach, Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), to get the football team into shape and work together for their first season as a fully integrated team. "Remember the Titans" is about so much more than just the game and is a stirring story on the importance of unity and teamwork.

Football dramas will frequently feature inspirational speeches from the coaches, and "Remember the Titans" offers many great examples. With Coach Boone having so much to prove to a town that immediately writes him off, there is a personal and emotional side to his coaching as he teaches his players to be better people as well as improve their game.

While some critics knocked the film for being full of cliches, it generally had favorable reviews from the critical consensus collected on Rotten Tomatoes, which calls it "an inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary." "Remember the Titans" may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances." It is rare to find a football drama that doesn't rely on the cliches of the genre, but the strength of the cast in this film –- particularly Washington -– elevates it above many of the others.


The safety and long-term effects of the game on football players aren't always things that professional football organizations are eager to discuss. However, it is now much more of a pressing issue thanks to several key pieces of research. This biographical film explores the efforts of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) as he fights to have his research on the long-term effects of head injuries in professional football players taken seriously by the NFL.

Plenty of football dramas feature the physicality of the game and the tremendous amount of strength required to play. "Concussion" takes a look at the long-term effects of this and highlights an important issue that doesn't usually get the same amount of screentime. Portrayed beautifully by Will Smith, Dr. Omalu openly admits he doesn't watch football, and yet it is this outside perspective that helps him to see something that perhaps others haven't been able to.

Instead of an underdog team or player, "Concussion" instead gives us the story of one man's fight against one of the most powerful institutions in the world in this timely and important film. The word of the real Dr. Omalu had a tangible impact on the game, per Brain & Life, with many ex-players receiving settlements from the NFL because of the debilitating injuries they received. The film itself received mixed reviews from critics, although fairly universal praise for Smith's performance, with a film critic for The Guardian, Mark Kermode, writing, "Smith's performance is his best in years."


Set in 1970s Philadelphia, with the Eagles on a multi-season losing streak and the city stuck in an unemployment crisis leading to protests, Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) decides to try and make the team when they hold open tryouts. The best sports films have an element of unbelievability to them -– even when they are based on a true story as this film is –- and "Invincible" is certainly an example of this as we see Vince's journey from fan to player.

This film is for those people who have sat watching games on their couches and remarked, "I could do that," as, at age 30, Papale becomes the oldest rookie in NFL history, playing for the Eagles for three seasons. Much like "Rudy," this film features the inspiring message of pursuing your dreams, even if at first they seem unobtainable. As Papale, Mark Wahlberg plays a convincing and likable everyman, proving that it is never too late to do the impossible.

"Invincible" also stars Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, and Kevin Conway, and performed well, pulling in just under $58.5 million worldwide. The critical consensus was largely favorable, as well, with Josh Tyler for Cinema Blend calling it an "uplifting study in hard work, humility, and perseverance."

Friday Night Lights

Before it was a popular television drama series, "Friday Night Lights" was a film starring Billy Bob Thornton and Connie Britton (who also appeared in the show). Focusing on The Permian Panthers -– the high school football team from Odessa, Texas -– the film explores the unifying power of football in bringing together the economically struggling town. In Odessa, football is more than just a game, it is a way of life, and the players are lauded as their heroes.

As well as drama on the field, there is plenty of drama off the field with the young players dealing with relationships, abusive parents, and the sense that there are few prospects for them if they stay in their hometown. Being a Panther is both a blessing and a curse, and the weight of expectation from this football-obsessed town is something they are forced to carry with them. For many players, football is their only escape and the only hope of a better life for themselves.

In stark contrast to many other sports films, this one doesn't end in perhaps the way you would envision, and in doing so, it has something very different -– and less cliche -– to offer audiences. The film also performed well at the box office and with critics, including David Ansen for Newsweek, who said, "few films have shown so powerfully the slashing double edge of sports fever." Equally effusive was Ian Nathan's review for Empire, which called "Friday Night Lights" "the best sports movie for years."

Any Given Sunday

If you like your football dramas loud and filled with expletives, then this Oliver Stone offering is the one for you. Starring Al Pacino as Tony D'Amato, coach of the fictional football team the Miami Sharks, the film is very loosely based on the novel by ex-NFL player Pat Toomay, "On Any Given Sunday." Boasting an impressive ensemble cast including Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, James Woods, Jamie Foxx, "Any Given Sunday" is a brash, unflinching, and in-your-face football drama.

D'Amato is a well-respected coach who devotes his whole life to the game, often at the expense of his wife and family. However, his old-school style of coaching frequently leads to clashes with the young, power-hungry owner of the team, Christina Pagniacci (Diaz). When both of the team's quarterbacks suffer injuries, the Sharks call up the idiosyncratic Willie Beamen (Foxx) to the team.

"Any Given Sunday" is a far more cynical film than some of its more saccharine counterparts, offering a warts-and-all look into the game's brutality with almost as many clashes off the field as on. With the starry cast and a big-name director behind it, the film proved to be a box office success, raking in over $100 million worldwide. The reviews were mixed, however, Noel Murray –- film critic for The Dissolve -– called it a "refreshing alternative to the solemnity of most sports dramas."

The Longest Yard (1974)

Subsequently remade several times, 1974's "The Longest Yard" remains the superior version, balancing grittiness and dark comedy in a way that the later ones don't quite achieve. When ex-football player Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds) lands in prison, he is persuaded to form a team made up of the inmates to play against the guards. Crewe soon recruits a squad of the prison's misfits –- later calling themselves "The Mean Machine" –- to play in an exhibition game.

The game sees the guards employing dirty tactics to try and win. The callous warden, Rudolph Hazen (Eddie Albert), even threatens to frame Crewe for the murder of another prisoner unless they agree to lose, and Crewe accepts on the condition that no one is injured. When the guards betray them, the prisoners feel more determined than ever to emerge victoriously. After Crewe scores the crucial game-winning touchdown, it feels like more than just a game and is a defiant stand against the vicious guards.

With the added subtext of revolt against a totalitarian regime running through the film, "The Longest Yard" succeeds in being more than just a football drama. Instead, it becomes a film about the downtrodden and overlooked triumphing over their sadistic overseers. Earning an Oscar nomination for best film editing, "The Longest Yard" also has a positive consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, with Variety calling it "an outstanding action drama, combining the brutish excitement of football competition with the brutalities of contemporary prison life."

Gridiron Gang

When "Gridiron Gang" was released in 2006, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was still in the early stages of his acting career, having transitioned from the world of wrestling to the big screen. Now he is a huge, bankable box office star, but his earlier films –- such as this one –- show the promise of what he would later become. In this film, Johnson plays Sean Porter, a worker at a juvenile detention center who creates a football team to teach them about the importance of hard work, discipline, and the value of teamwork, to try and deter them from future criminal activity after their release.

Inspired by the 1993 documentary of the same name, "Gridiron Gang" is a gritty yet inspiring film about how lives can be changed through football. For these kids, it isn't necessarily about winning games, but earning the chance to make a better life for themselves, rather than falling into gang culture, drugs, and possible future incarceration. It is about seeing the potential in someone and giving them the tools and skills they need to turn their fortunes around.

Despite the positive message of the film, it didn't perform quite so well with critics giving it a mixed reception. The film did much better with audiences, however, and it currently has an 81% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Varsity Blues

At the peak of his "Dawson's Creek" success, James Van Der Beek stars as Jonathan Moxon –- the back-up quarterback for his high school football team –- who is suddenly called upon to play when the starting quarterback (a young Paul Walker) is injured. In the fictional West Canaan where the film is set, the Coyotes are the town's heroes, and with only a few games left in their season, Moxon has little time to prove himself and lead the team to championship success.

Famously Regina George's favorite movie, "Varsity Blues" is a perfect 1990s teen coming-of-age comedy that strikes the right balance between the on and off-pitch action. Much less trite than some of its counterparts, the film has hilarious sequences, such as the team attempting to play while hungover to balance some of the unavoidable cliches that come with the genre. It also employs some of the gross-out tactics that made films such as "American Pie" so popular during this decade, giving it much more of a risque edge than most football dramas.

Riding the wave of the overwhelming popularity of "Dawson's Creek," the film was a surprise box office success, making just over $54 million worldwide. The reaction from the critics was mixed, with Roger Ebert saying that "the parts never quite come together," but he did praise the performances saying Van Der Beek is "convincing and likable" and noted that Jon Voight as Coach Bud Kilmer "has a kind of doomed grandeur."

All the Right Moves

Starring Tom Cruise in one of his earlier film roles, "All the Right Moves" tells the story of a young football player from a small town with lofty ambitions of making it big. Stefen (Cruise) has obvious talent but is full of teen angst, and it is this attitude leads to problems with his coach, Burt Nickerson (Craig T. Nelson). With the backdrop of football, "All the Right Moves" is a working-class fable, focusing on the struggles many teenagers face in trying to escape where they're from to make something better for themselves.

Also starring Lea Thompson (pre-"Back To The Future" fame) as Stefen's girlfriend Lisa, "All the Right Moves" is at times pretty bleak, however, the end is full of hope. We see this through the lens of Stefen, who has the choice of playing football to get a scholarship or end up working at the steel mill in his small town. For Lisa as well, the film is honest about her frustrations, without football as her ticket out of there.

Hugely underrated, "All the Right Moves" is notable for being more realistic and honest than many football dramas, with its truthful depiction of the character's struggles living in this place given more of the spotlight than the game itself. This was an element highlighted by critics, including Variety, who praised the film by saying that it "crackles with authenticity."

Silver Linings Playbook

This film might not initially jump out as the first film you think of when it comes to football dramas. However, what "Silver Linings Playbook" does look at is the incredibly passionate fanbase of the game, and the role it plays in the relationship between Pat Solitano Sr. (Robert DeNiro) and his son Pat Jr. (Bradley Cooper).

As a diehard fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, Pat Sr.'s whole life revolves around the team, almost ruining him financially. As well as strict pre-game rituals, he is also incredibly superstitious, holding the belief that Pat Jr. is a good luck charm for the team. For Pat Sr., this is also the way he bonds with his son. In one emotional scene, he admits his faults as a father, and that more so than watching the games, what he values is spending time with him.

Football might not be the main subject matter of the film, but it is important to "Silver Linings Playbook" thematically, representing reconciliation and the central part it can play particularly in father and son bonding. The film was exceptionally well-received by critics and was nominated for eight Oscars, picking up one win for Jennifer Lawrence for best actress. Writing for St. Louis Post-Dispatch, critic Joe Williams praised the film with some appropriate football analogies saying, "going deep without resorting to trick plays, the sure-handed "Silver Linings Playbook" scores on every possession."