Football is back, baby! The 2023 football season is here–finally. Football fans from high school to the NFL are getting out their Terrible Towels and rally rags to cheer on their favorite teams throwing around the pigskin. To celebrate, we thought we’d round up not our favorite football movies, but our favorite quotes from our favorite football movies.

Ready? Here we go!

1. The Replacements

The quote: “Pain heals. Chick dig scars. Glory lasts forever.”

Is The Replacements the best football movie out there? Absolutely not. Is it one of the most quotable? Absolutely yes. The story of a rag-tag group of scrubs who replace a real NFL team one season doesn’t rewrite the genre. But with its eccentric cast of characters and an earnest Keanu Reeves at the helm, it’s an eminently watchable underdog movie. The quote sums it up perfectly: blue collar, a little rough around the edges, and hard-working.

2. Any Given Sunday

The quote: “You find out life’s this game of inches, so is football. Because in either game – life or football – the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch.

Any Given Sunday is as much about the business of football as much as it is about football itself. And as Tony D’Amato, Al Pacino dresses more like a mobster than a football coach in Oliver Stone’s football movie. But, man, does he give one hell of a moving and honest halftime speech in the third act of the movie. In truth, it’s one of Pacino’s most underrated monologues and worth every second.

3. Jerry Maguire

The quote: “You are hanging on by a very thin thread and I dig that about you!

Jerry Maguire is one of those movies whose lines have been so quoted that some of them have gotten absorbed into the pop culture lexicon, namely “Show me the money!” and “You complete me.” and “Help me help you!” But we’re not going with either of those quotes. Instead, we’ll pick one uttered by Cuba Gooding Jr.’s cocky Rod Tidwell. It’s a great delivery, but more than that, it really sums up the way Cruise plays Jerry Maguire with a quiet sense of desperation throughout as he’s on the verge of losing his entire career.

4. Necessary Roughness

The quote: “I don’t wanna put any undue pressure on you guys, but Coach Gennero’s last words were, win or I’ll die.”

This quote may not be the most repeated in Necessary Roughness, but it’s quietly one of the best. Robert Loggia’s delivery of the line as Coach Rig is pitch perfect. More, it captures the comedic, chaotic tone and the absolute dysfunction of the hapless team. Necessary Roughness is an underrated classic for all the right reasons.

5. Friday Night Lights

The quote: “Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is, you did everything you could. There wasn’t one more thing you could’ve done.”

There are few actors who can deliver a heartfelt speech like Billy Bob Thornton, and as Coach Gaines in Friday Night Lights, he delivers one of his best. The movie was so successful that it went on to launch a TV series, and it’s thanks to the balance of heartfelt earnestness without schmaltz. Gaines’ speech isn’t just great advice for the game of football, but for life. There’s a reason it’s quoted.

6. Rudy

The quote: “Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy!

Yes, sure, this quote doesn’t really say anything. But it says everything. Based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, who dreamed of playing for Notre Dame even though he was too small is a classic sports tale. And when the crowd starts chanting his name at the end, we dare you not to be moved.

7. Remember the Titans

The quote: “Sometimes life is hard for no reason at all.”

When writing about Remember the Titans, one might expect us to pick a line from one of the players or from Denzel Washington’s Coach Boone–his Gettysburg speech certainly deserves to be up here. Instead, we’re picking one from his wife, Carol, played by Nicole Ari Parker. It’s simple, but one of the truest things ever uttered in a football movie: Sometimes, life is hard and there’s just no reason for it.

8. Varsity Blues

The quote: “We have the rest of our lives to be mediocre, but we have the opportunity to play like gods for the next half of football.”

For people of a certain age, Varsity Blues is arguably the most quotable football movie ever made. Part sports drama, part coming of age movie, with a healthy dose of comedic moments, Varsity Blues hits you if you watch it at just the right time. More than that, though, it’s realistic. As Mox gives his halftime speech to his teammates, he’s clear-eyed about their future: despite their football dreams, most of them won’t go on to fame and glory. And that’s okay. Sometimes, being extraordinary for just a little while is enough.

9. The Longest Yard

The quote: “You could have robbed banks, sold dope or stole your grandmother’s pension checks and none of us would have minded. But shaving points off of a football game, man that’s un-American.”

The Longest Yard is a Burt Reynolds classic for a reason. Caretaker’s line might not be the most quoted but it’s certainly the most fitting. Absolving someone of robbery and other felonies but not being able to forgive them for rigging a football game–is there anything more American than that? We think not.

10. North Dallas Forty

The quote: “People who confuse brains and luck can get in a whole lot of trouble.”

North Dallas Forty is a solid and underrated football move on its own. And most of its most well-known quotes are, let’s just say, a little more colorful than what we can include in this piece. But as a great bit of life advice, the quote above is about as sound as it gets. Brains and luck aren’t the same thing, and sometimes, it’s the latter that’s more important.

  • Editorial