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The best football movies on Netflix and other streaming services

Joe Supan

Apr 7, 2020 — 6 min read

With sports on hold for a while, now’s the perfect time to catch up on some of the best football movies around — all of them available to stream right now.

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We have a long way to go until the NFL season, and possibly sports as a whole, returns to normal play. But if you’re in the mood for a pigskin-sized distraction, there are plenty of gridiron classics to keep you entertained while you wait. 

To find the best football movies of all time, we pulled critic scores from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, plus user ratings from IMDb. That helped us narrow down our initial list of more than 40 movies. From there, we chose a mix of old favorites and overlooked gems — all of which can be streamed right now.

Big Fan

  • MPAA rating: R
  • Release year: 2009
  • Streaming on: Prime Video
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 86%
  • IMDb user rating: 6.7

Turning the lens from the athletes to the fans who obsess over them, Big Fan is a funny and sympathetic portrait of the self-described “world’s biggest New York Giants fan.” But when an encounter with one of his heroes goes awry, Paul (Patton Oswalt) is forced to re-evaluate his priorities. 

What the critics said: “When I think of this movie, I think of Oswalt, how his anguish feels real (whether we understand it or not) and how his face unaccountably becomes an offbeat locus of dignity.” – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

Go Tigers!

  • MPAA rating: R
  • Release year: 2001
  • Streaming on: Hulu
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 85%
  • IMDb user rating: 7.1

This documentary follows the Massillon Tigers, a high school football team from Northeast Ohio, during their 1999 season. Although there’s plenty of entertaining game action, the film also takes a perceptive look at the larger issues surrounding the team, from the cash-strapped school district to the players’ lives off the field.

What the critics said: “Arguably the best sports-oriented docu since Hoop Dreams, Go Tigers! offers a largely sympathetic but not entirely uncritical view of high school football in an Ohio town where gridiron heroics are fanatically revered.” – Joe Laydon, Variety


  • MPAA rating: PG
  • Release year: 2006
  • Streaming on: Disney+
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 72%
  • IMDb user rating: 7.1

Like another football classic on this list, Invincible tells the true story of an average person who overcomes near-impossible odds to make his dream a reality. Mark Wahlberg stars as Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who became the oldest rookie in NFL history after attending a tryout.

What the critics said: “There’s a sugarcoating to the way Papale’s story unfolds, but not so much that you’ll spoil your dinner.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Jerry Maguire

  • MPAA rating: R
  • Release year: 1996
  • Streaming on: Netflix
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 83%
  • IMDb user rating: 7.3

When a sports agent (Tom Cruise) is fired from his high-profile job, only one player sticks with him: Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the movie. Even if it’s your first time watching, you probably already know plenty of the lines — this is one of the most quoted movies ever made. 

What the critics said: “A former Rolling Stone writer, Crowe has a journalist’s eye for social detail and a novelist’s flair for the twists and turns of character. It may be inevitable that Jerry and Dorothy fall in love, but the how and why of their romance feels amazingly fresh, composed as it is of fits and starts, advances and reversals.” – Dave Kehr, New York Daily News

The Longest Yard

  • MPAA rating: R
  • Release year: 1974
  • Streaming on: Netflix
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 79%
  • IMDb user rating: 7.1

Starring Burt Reynolds as a former NFL player who leads a group of prisoners in a football game against the guards, The Longest Yard features one of the greatest sports movie games of all time. The film has been remade three times over the years, but none measure up to the 1974 original. 

What the critics said: “The picture is a brutal bash, but the laughter at the brutality has no meanness in it; everybody knows that the blood isn’t real…For all its bone-crushing collisions, it’s almost irresistibly good-natured and funny.” – Pauline Kael, The New Yorker

Remember the Titans

  • MPAA rating: PG
  • Release year: 2000
  • Streaming on: Disney+
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 73%
  • IMDb user rating: 7.8

It’s impossible to think “football movie” without immediately hearing Denzel Washington’s Coach Boone barking out orders in your head. With a cast full of past and future stars, Remember the Titans follows the real-life story of Virginia high school football coach Herman Boone and his first season coaching the newly integrated T.C. Williams Titans. 

What the critics said: “There are true and touching moments in the film, on top of its undeniable entertainment value.” – Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com


  • MPAA rating: PG
  • Release year: 1993
  • Streaming for free on: IMDb TV, Roku Channel
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 78%
  • IMDb user rating: 7.5

Rudy is sports movie royalty, plain and simple. Based on the true story of Daniel Ruettiger, who overcame incredible obstacles to play football at the University of Notre Dame, Rudy has delighted and inspired football fans for decades with its tale of resilience in the face of overwhelming odds. 

What the critics said: “In Rudy, Astin’s performance is so self-effacing, so focused and low-key, that we lose sight of the underdog formula and begin to focus on this dogged kid who won’t quit. And the last big scene is an emotional powerhouse, just the way it’s supposed to be.” – Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com

Silver Linings Playbook

  • MPAA rating: R
  • Release year: 2012
  • Streaming on: Netflix
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 92%
  • IMDb user rating: 7.7

While its football movie merits can be debated — no main characters actually play the game —  there’s no denying that this is one of the most well-made movies about sports that we have. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star, with Robert De Niro in a supporting role. The movie earned Lawrence her first Academy Award for Best Actress.

What the critics said: “It’s wonderful to hear what Cooper and Lawrence can do with great dialogue and complicated feelings, also what they can do as part of a larger acting team, especially alongside a hale, in-rare-form De Niro.” – Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe


  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • Release year: 2011
  • Streaming on: Netflix
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 96%
  • IMDb user rating: 7.7

With the highest Rotten Tomatoes critic score of any football movie and an Academy Award win for Best Documentary, Undefeated is as unanimously admired as they come. The film follows an inner-city Memphis high school football team during their 2009 season as they try to win the first playoff game in the team’s 110-year history. 

What the critics said: “[Undefeated] isn’t really about football. Yes, it follows a North Memphis high-school football team through the 2009 season, and there’s plenty of sports action on those muddy fields. But Undefeated…quickly establishes itself as about something else: the building of what the team’s coach calls ‘young men of character and discipline,’ and how passion for a sport can change a life. It’s a surprisingly moving, emotional film, even for those who (like me) know little of football; by its end, you just might be blinking away a few tears.” – Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times

Varsity Blues

  • MPAA rating: R
  • Release year: 1999
  • Available to rent on: Amazon, YouTube and Google Play for $2.99
  • Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 41%
  • IMDb user rating: 6.5

Critics universally hated this film, but a football movie list just wouldn’t feel right without it. It’s over-the-top, unrealistic, sometimes poorly acted — and an absolute blast to watch. The story is football movie 101: The star quarterback gets injured and the brainy backup tries to fill his shoes. Some of the comedy here may be unintentional, but this movie does capture the unique intensity of Texas high school football. 

What the critics said: “Varsity Blues uses all the trappings of the typical football movie — a tragic injury, a goofy linebacker, and a Big Final Game — but does so with a sly and surprisingly biting attitude towards our national sport.” – Kate Knibbs, The Ringer

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