Greatest Football Movie Ever Tournament: Heaven Can Wait vs Any Given Sunday

Well, we've gotten our tournament underway with a pretty convincing victory by Brian's Song over Leatherheads. I'd be lying if I said I really didn't expect that result, and it was about as convincing as I thought it would be. This one, however, should be a little more interesting and hard-fought.

This is our second match-up in the Professional bracket, and the winner of this one will face off against Brian's Song in the Professional bracket semi-finals in a few weeks.

Heaven Can Wait

This movie is. . .strange, to say the least. It was released in 1978, and features Warren Beatty doing what can best be described as "body-hopping" from one person to the next.

See, Beatty starts out as Joe Pendleton, a backup quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams. (Yes, kids, Los Angeles used to have a football team. Two of them, even!) Pendleton is involved in a car accident and killed. . .but, when he reaches the afterlife, a strange clerical error is discovered. Joe Pendleton isn't scheduled to arrive in the afterlife for about another 40 years. But, wouldn't you know it, it turns out Pendleton's body has already been cremated. . .I hate it when that happens.

So, the powers that be allow Pendleton to come back, but he has to occupy someone else's body. . .in this case, the body of multi-millionaire Leo Farnsworth, who had just been murdered by his wife and her lover. So, Mr. Farnsworth comes back to life, which comes as quite a shock, but we get past that. . .and, eventually, Farnsworth buys the Los Angeles Rams, who just happen to be headed to the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers. During the game, the Rams' quarterback, Thomas Jarrett, is killed on the field after a hit by James Harrison. Nah, just kidding. . .not by James Harrison. But Pendleton/Farnsworth then takes over the body of Jarrett during the game.

Heaven Can Wait is actually a much better movie than my description probably makes it out to be, but the plot line is quite different from most movies. Also, it falls dangerously close to the Jerry Maguire standard of not really being about football. But, since it centers around a football player as opposed to an agent or some other entity, it counts.

Strange thing about this movie. . .it was released in 1978, with the Super Bowl in the movie being played between the Rams and the Steelers. The Super Bowl that followed the 1979 season featured those same two teams.

Any Given Sunday

Any Given Sunday tells the story of the Miami Sharks, a once-great team coached by the legendary (in the movie's fictional football league, in any case) Tony D'Amato. . .or, as you and I know him, Al Pacino. In the opening scene, Miami's starting quarterback and backup quarterback both get injured, meaning the team has to turn to their third-string option, Willie Beamen (played by Jamie Foxx). There are some growing pains, obviously, but Beamen eventually asserts himself quite well as the team's quarterback, leading them to the "Pantheon Cup" title game. The Sharks even beat Minnesota along the way. . .even in fictitious football leagues, teams from Minnesota can't catch a break.

Meanwhile, D'Amato is constantly at odds with the Sharks' new owner, Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz). Christina inherited the team from her father, and attempts to make herself the Jerry Jones of the league by taking a more "hands-on" approach with the team, bringing in a new offensive coordinator. The movie ends with a press conference about the future of the Miami Sharks, at which D'Amato is expected to announce his retirement.

There were quite a few former NFL players that were involved with Any Given Sunday, such as Warren Moon, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, and even Johnny Unitas. Oh, and former kicking legend Bjorn Nittmo. (Come on, his name is Bjorn, for crying out loud.) It also features John C. McGinley, who many people know as Dr. Cox from Scrubs, as a reporter who seems to be doing a pretty darn dead-on Jim Rome impression.

Poll for this one is going to be open until Sunday morning, so have at it, folks!

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