Greatest Football Movie Ever Tournament: North Dallas Forty vs The Replacements

The first week of our "Greatest Football Movie Ever" tournament is in the books, and it featured two pretty decisive victories by Brian's Song and Any Given Sunday. Those two movies will square off against one another in the semi-finals of the Professional Bracket when we get back around to them in March. This week, we'll resolve the two match-ups that will determine our second semi-final matchup.

This week's match-up pits a couple of films that got a little bit of buzz when the list of movies was announced against one another. Should be a fairly interesting one.

Oh, one more note. . .I'm trying to go with the trailers for these movies as much as possible from here on out. There are a ton of other YouTube clips and clips at other places for various scenes and stuff like that.

North Dallas Forty

North Dallas Forty is the story of the North Dallas Bulls, a 1970s-era professional football team that bears a bit of a resemblance to the Dallas Cowboys. There's a reason for that. . .the movie is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by former NFL player Peter Gent, who played for the Cowboys from 1964 to 1968. He was never a star or anything like that on the football field, but he quickly became one after the publication of his book in 1973. The book is considered one of the best sports books ever written. This movie came out in 1979.

The movie stars Nick Nolte. . .and his epic 70s mustache. . .as wide receiver Phil Elliot. Elliot is a star wide receiver who is trying to hold on to his career, and abusing the heck out of painkillers as a result. (Elliot is rumored to be based on Peter Gent himself, although Gent was never actually a star in the NFL.)  Elliot and quarterback Sam Maxwell (played by Mac Davis) are popular players, and spend much of their off-time engaged in less than moral activities. The team plays for a legendary coach, B.A. Strother (played by G.D. Spradlin, who sounds an awful lot like Cotton Hill from the King of the Hill television series), who tends to turn a blind eye towards the off-field activities of his players.

North Dallas Forty contains some of the best football scenes you're going to get in any of these movies. Incredibly realistic and not cartoonish like some movies. This is widely regarded among the top football films ever made, and with good reason.

The Replacements

The Replacements, a movie which came out in the year 2000, is loosely. . .very loosely. . .based on the 1987 NFL player strike, in which the owners of the National Football League teams brought in replacement players in order to play bad football games that they could still sell tickets for. The movie is about one of those teams of "scabs" that answered the call when the "real" professionals refused to cross the picket line.

The team, in this case, is the Washington Sentinels. The main character is quarterback Shane Falco (played by Keanu Reeves), a quarterback that choked in his final game at Ohio State University (sorry, Ted), and washed out of the professional ranks after one season.  Falco and the rest of the scab players are brought to Washington after the strike by head coach Jimmy McGinty (played by Gene Hackman). McGinty was the coach of the Sentinels for a long time, and was fired for getting into an argument with the owner, Edward O'Neil (Jack Warden) before being asked back to coach the replacement players. Even the cheerleading squads are replacements, including a couple of strippers that actually seem to you've already stopped reading this and are doing a Google search, so never mind.

The way the games play out, even the results, are somewhat based on what the Redskins' "scab" players did during the '87 replacement games. The Redskins replacement players won all three of their games, and played a relatively small part to help in helping the Redskins reach the Super Bowl that year. As we've mentioned on the site before, the '87 Redskins defeated the Vikings to get to the Super Bowl, where they thrashed the Denver Broncos. Ironically, in the episode of NFL Films' America's Game where the '87 Redskins got profiled, the narrator for the show was none other than Gene Hackman.

So there you have it, folks. . .another match-up in our quest to determine the Greatest Football Movie Ever. Feel free to debate everything right here, and don't forget to vote!

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