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January 30, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | January 30, 2009 |

I can’t think of a Super Bowl in recent memory that I care about watching less. Seriously: the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Arizona Cardinals. I got nothing against the Steelers, other than they are a spectacularly dull team to watch. They don’t so much beat their opponents as they simply render them moot. They bore the other team into submission, and walk away with a slim victory. And it’s not like it’ll take a lot to beat the Cardinals. Seriously: This is the best the NFC can muster? A 9-7 team in the worst conference in the NFL? Cowboys? Eagles? Panthers? This is the team you let into the Super Bowl? Give me a break. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kurt Warner — the reborn bag boy — fumbles it more times than the Cardinals score. I suspect it’ll be a laffer, and I’m having a difficult time working up any enthusiasm for it. At least Springsteen is playing the half-time show.

And so, this year’s Super Bowl has set the bar low for this Seriously Random list. These aren’t necessarily the best football movies of all time, because that just wouldn’t be fair to the competition, and besides, I don’t really want to include Brian’s Song on this list, and the competition between the top football movies is not exactly fierce. Most are watchable, but few are significant. Seriously: Look around — most that attempt a top ten list are forced to put We Are Marshall on it, which is just embarrassing. These just football movies that are more entertaining to watch than I expect this year’s Super Bowl will be. And they also happen to be football movies that I have a hard time turning away from whenever they’re on cable.

5. The Replacements: Yeah. See how low the bar has been set. Although, you gotta admit, Jon Favreau as the batshit insane lineman, Rhys Ifans as the kicker, and even Orlanda Jones as the wide receiver are fairly entertaining to watch. Gene Hackman, as always, is competent, and Keanu Reeves, as always, isn’t. If anything, it’ll have you wondering whatever happened to Brook Langton? As I recall, it was a big come-from behind victory, with no late game trickery, which is a shame. Trick plays are my favorite parts of football movies.

4. Remember the Titans: This one has been on HBO all week, and it’s still an amazing football movie. If you haven’t seen it in a few years, you’ll probably be surprised to remember that Ryan Gosling was in it (as back-up running back), as is Donald Faison (the star running back), and Ethan Suplee, who was even bigger then than he is now (oh, and little Hayden Panettiere plays the coach’s daughter). But the movie is owned by Denzel Washington and Will Patton, and it sort of launched the annual Disney feel-good, based-on-a-true story sports movie, so unfortunately, we have it to thank for We Are Marshall and Coach Carter, among many other, more forgettable ones. Honestly, this football movie is worth watching just for the scene where, after a Titan victory, Denzell Washington tosses a banana at a racist opposing coach who had called him a monkey on television the day before.

3. Varsity Blues: This, folks, is the best so-bad-it’s-good sports movie in the history of so-bad-it’s-good sports movies. You can’t turn away. It’s impossible, I say. James (“I. Don’t. Want. Yore. Life”) Van Der Beek, Ali Larter in a whipped cream bikini, Jon Voight as a serious asshole coach, a rowdy, drunken Scott Caan, the high school teacher doing “Hot for Teacher” at a strip club, and — of course — the hook n’ ladder for the win. Hook n’ ladder, people! This is probably the only football movie I could watch twice a week for months without getting tired of it.

2. Rudy: It’s kind of long, which actually makes it a better movie to watch a second or 47th time, because you know what’s coming, and it’s the only reason why you stick it out. Charles Dutton is awesome for this line alone:

Your five foot nothin’, a hundred and nothin’ and you hung in with the best college football team in the land for two years, and you were also going to walk out of here with a degree from the University of Norte Dame in this life time you don’t have to prove nothing to nobody except yourself and after what you gone through if you haven’t done that by now, it aint gonna never happen, now go on back.

It’s also the only time that Sean Astin has actually made a valuable contribution to society (OK, Goonies, too),and if you catch it in the middle, there’s no way you won’t stick around for the final five minutes, just to see little Rudy being carried off the field. What’s remarkable, too, is that — at least the football parts — didn’t need to be put through the Hollywood filter. He actually did sack the QB (although, he was in for two plays, and not just one) and he is one of only two players in Notre Dame history to be carried off the field.

1. Friday Night Lights: This movie really is the greatest football movie of all time, and you can shove your Brian’s Song and your Any Given Sunday up your ass (although, the latter wins for roughest, grittiest, meanest football scenes). Nevermind that it inspired one of the best shows currently on TV, it was an amazing movie in its own right. Heart-wrenching, inspirational, well-acted, and painfully true-to-life, particularly if you grew up in a part of the South where they fly helicopters around the state on Friday nights to record high-school football highlights. When Boobie Miles starts blubbering because his football career is over, if you don’t well up a little, you’re dead. And that ending — oh, God. A gut punch. And Explosions in the Sky play the perfect 12th man. A truly great football flick.

Just watch the trailer again:

A Seriously Random List LII / Dustin Rowles

Lists | January 30, 2009 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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