Football Flicks For Wild Card Weekend

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Greetings from The Booth!

Let the NFL “Second Season” begin!  The road to Super Bowl 58 starts this weekend with the Wild Card round and six, count ’em, six games are on tap, including a Monday Night playoff contest. Wives, good luck getting the other halves to get up out of the La-Z-Boys to finally take down the Christmas decorations!

I’m not going to break down each game for you (the Sports Dogs do a fine job of that in this week’s podcast, so be sure to check it out on this website). But I do want to know if Taylor Swift is going to show up in Kansas City in minus 18 degree wind chill to cheer her beloved Chiefs to victory. Instead, being the movie geek that I am, let’s re-visit an updated list of a few of my favorite pro football flicks. Since the first Wild Card game doesn’t begin until 4pm on Saturday, I’m going to start the day with a double or triple feature to help ramp up to the action. So, here are three you might want to check out.

Draft Day (2014): For those of us whose team did not make the playoffs (like my woeful Commanders) and are anticipating a big splash in the upcoming draft, this movie will get you excited. Draft Day does a great job of showing you what happens in an NFL “War Room” and the wheeling and dealing of an NFL General Manager. “Mr. Sports Movie” Kevin Costner is Cleveland GM Sonny Weaver, whose moves on draft day vindicate him from fans, his head coach, and owner, who all want him fired. A fantastic supporting cast help make this one of my new favorites.

Any Given Sunday (1999): Oliver Stone’s “expose” about pro football. An all-star cast is headed up by Al Pacino, who is Tony D’Amato, the head coach of the fictional Miami Sharks, who are down to their third-string quarterback, “Steamin'” Willie Beamon, played by Jamie Foxx. Beamon doesn’t know the playbook, and doesn’t care, because his freewheeling style of play has the Sharks in playoff contention and has made him an overnight sensation. The movie was panned by some critics, but is worth a watch, if only for the D’Amato “inches” speech near the end.

North Dallas Forty (1979): Based on the novel of the same name written by former Dallas Cowboy Pete Gent, NDF is a story about the dehumanization and computerization of pro football, loosely based on the Cowboys. Characters in the movie are often compared to Don Meredith, Tom Landry, and Gent himself. Nick Nolte and Mac Davis portray receiver Phil Elliot and quarterback Seth Maxwell, who live a football existence of injury, booze, pills, and women, and somehow get themselves ready for Sunday afternoon. The book is better, but the movie isn’t horrible.

Some other favorites are the original Longest Yard, Jerry Maguire, and Invicible. Get the popcorn ready, and start your Wild Card Weekend with a few football flicks, and enjoy the games. The Christmas tree can stay up another week.



“Do You Believe In Miracles? Yes!”

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Greetings from The Booth!

Great to be back in the Booth this week after my annual “Winter Break.” With the Super Bowl now history, and a bit of a lull in the sports world, I thought I would celebrate the anniversary of one of the greatest sports upsets in history. It was this week in 1980 that the USA Olympic Hockey Team shocked the mighty Soviet Big Red Machine in the Lake Placid Games. It was one of those events that you remember to this day what you were doing and where you were when you watched the delayed ABC broadcast that night. The USA team was made up of college kids and was given no chance to beat the de facto professional juggernaut Red Army team from the USSR. It was a game for the ages, capped off by Al Michael’s famous line “Do you believe in miracles…Yes!!!” as the final seconds ticked down.

Yesterday, I went back and listened to the Kurt Russell speech from the movie “Miracle,” in which he portrayed USA coach Herb Brooks. We all know that movies take a bit of license in re-creating historical events, but this speech is one of the greatest in sports movie history. It would be certainly number one on my list. With that said, here are my top 3 sports movie speeches of all time:

1. Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks in “Miracle”: Did Brooks really give this speech word for word? Probably not, but when Kurt Russell (as Brooks) delivers this pre-game talk to the USA hockey team on the big screen, I immediately want to skate through a brick wall–and I don’t even know how to skate. “This is our time” still gives me goosebumps!

2. James Earl Jones in “Field Of Dreams”: This would actually be 1A on my list, if not alone at the top. Those of us that love baseball have no doubt tried to put that love into words, and no one does it better than James Earl Jones. “The one constant through all the years, Ray…is baseball” is part of one of the most beautiful soliloquies ever delivered on the big screen.

3. Al Pacino as Tony D’Amato in “Any Given Sunday”: Oliver Stone’s effort to expose professional football on the big screen may have been panned by some critics and athletes, but D’Amato’s “inches” pre-game speech to the fictional Miami Sharks is, to me, the highlight of the movie. Makes me want to put on pads and go hit someone.

(Honorable Mention) Gene Hackett in “Hoosiers’:  I had to include basketball, and is there a better underdog story than “Hoosiers?” Hackett’s pre-game talk to his high school team is not fiery, but in his understated way, he makes his team believe they can overcome all odds and shock the Indiana basketball world. Get a box of Kleenex for a true-life story that is worth revisiting this time of year.

There ya’ go. I’m sure you have your favorites, so let me know about them. Now…Go out and win!!!