It’s been 150 days since the Patriots pulled off that improbable comeback win over the Falcons, and we’ve still got another 64 days to go until the NFL’s regular season is officially back. To help you pass the time, we’ve pulled together a guide of all the best football-related shows and movies you should be watching to help get through the next few weeks.
An obvious staple is Hard Knocks, which features the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year. You’ll be able to get your training camp fix and check out the heated camp battle between kickers Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk. You’ll also probably see some really nice Mike Smith dad shorts and sandals combinations.
But that won’t begin airing on HBO until Aug. 8, so we’ve got some other ideas for you in the meantime.
All or Nothing with the Arizona Cardinals
Yes, this is last year’s All or Nothing, the series on Amazon that follows an NFL team for an entire season and brings you all of the gritty details. This current season centers on the Los Angeles Rams, who bored us all to tears last year on Hard Knocks. My esteemed editor, Ryan Van Bibber, described this season of All or Nothing as the Thursday Night Football of reality shows. Save yourself the time.
But last year’s series took us through the whole realm of emotion. From the joys of learning all of the colorful ways Bruce Arians employs profanity to get his point across, to the tears we shed when Reilly, team president Michael Bidwell’s very good rescue dog, passed away, that season was riveting from start to finish. Do yourself a favor and skip the 7 and 9 bullshit of this year’s season. Rewatch last year’s instead.
Grab some tissues before you start this film, which chronicles former Saints safety and special teamer Steve Gleason’s courageous battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a tear-jerker, but it’s also the story of a man, a husband, and a father who won’t give up, even in the face of a terminal diagnosis with a devastating disease.
“I have this diagnosis, and it’s not going to crush my life, even if it does crush my body,” Gleason says in the film.
ALS does take his ability to walk and speak and much more, but with the love and support of his family, Gleason still manages to triumph. It’s a heartbreaking film but a worthwhile one.
Remember the Titans
This 2000 Disney film starring Denzel Washington, Ryan Gosling, and a very precocious Hayden Panettiere is a must-watch for any football fan. It’s based on the life and experience of Herman Boone, a black coach hired by a primarily white high school who faces the daunting task of integrating the team.
But if you tune in hoping to see some quality football, you might be disappointed. Gosling is a man of many talents, but he is absolute garbage in coverage.
Terry Crews played in 32 NFL games for the Rams, Chargers, Washington, and the Eagles. He’s also a great actor, regularly stealing scenes on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Well before that, he was in the movie Idiocracy. If you haven’t seen it, Crews plays Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, the President of the United States in a not-so-distant future where everything is, well, kind of a mess.
In this role, Crews displayed remarkable leadership.
“Now I understand everyone's shit's emotional right now,” Crews says as President Camacho. “But I've got a three-point plan that's going to fix everything.”
That three-point plan was to let Luke Wilson’s character, who’s known as Not Sure and has the highest IQ in the world, just fix everything. That’s actually a sensible approach. I would vote for President Camacho. Camacho 2020. Let’s go.
The 2000 Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman film, The Replacements, tells the story of the fictional Washington Sentinels owner bringing in replacement players during a players strike. That includes Reeves, who plays former All-American and Ohio State star quarterback Shane Falco (different from his other former Ohio State quarterback character, Johnny Utah). Falco is absolutely terrible at first, and of course, manages to pull it together — pivotal team-bonding dance scene included — and lead his team to victory.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t expire until 2021, but the NFL is already cautioning players to start saving up in case there’s another lockout. Now a lockout is different from a players strike, but this is still a fun, if predictable, film.
Heaven Can Wait
If you’re just desperate for some Los Angeles Rams viewing material, and you’ve taken our advice to just not bother with All or Nothing, check out Heaven Can Wait.
Warren Beatty is Joe Pendleton, a backup quarterback for the Rams who, while on his bike, is hit by a car, which kills him. It turns out that Pendleton was actually taken much too soon, so he’s reincarnated as millionaire businessman Leo Farnsworth. He then buys the Rams and intends to become the quarterback and lead the team to the Super Bowl, even though Farnsworth was absolutely not in any kind of NFL shape.
I don’t want to give you any spoilers about the rest of the plot, but I will tell you this: Heaven Can Wait is infinitely better than anything else you can watch about the Rams right now.