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Greatest Football Movie Ever Tournament: Brian's Song vs Leatherheads

Okay, it's time to get this tournament underway, and we'll start with our Professional bracket. . .I think we're going to go in the order that I listed the match-ups in when I put out the original bracket post. So, all of the first-round match-ups in the professional bracket will get taken care of first, followed by the College bracket, and then the "Other" bracket. I'll put something up in the sidebar so that everyone can track things and vote in the polls as they get pushed off of the main page.

So, with that, we'll get the tournament underway with our first match-up, Brian's Song vs Leatherheads.

Brian's Song

Brian's Song was not a wide theatrical release, but rather an ABC television Movie of the Week from 1971. It got such a great reception that it got a limited release in theaters, but it didn't last long. It is, however, regarded by many as the best made-for-TV movie ever made.

The movie recounts the life of former Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo (played by James Caan), and his friendship with the legendary Gale Sayers (played by Billy Dee Williams). Piccolo had been stricken with terminal cancer, and Sayers was his closest friend on the team. The screenplay is actually based on Sayers' autobiography, I Am Third, which has the account of Sayers' friendship with Piccolo and coping with Piccolo's illness.

I don't want to work my personal feelings about these movies in too much, so as not to potentially influence voting one way or another. But I will say that Brian's Song is a hell of a movie. . .and, the first time you watch it, if you don't get a bit of a tear in your eye hearing the speech in the video clip above, you should consider checking your pulse.

Oh, and the movie was re-made in 2001. Don't bother with the re-make. Stick with the original.

Leatherheads

This movie came out in 2008, and gives the depiction of Jimmy "Dodge" Connelly, played by George Clooney, attempting to save his team (the Duluth Bulldogs) and the professional football league they're in after the players lose their sponsor and the league is on the brink of collapse.

Connelly manages to convince then-Princeton football star Connor "The Bullet" Rutherford (played by John Krasniski of The Office fame) to come and play for the Bulldogs. He hopes to capitalize on Rutherford's fame as a decorated hero of World War I to bring popularity to the league and possibly get some sponsorship back.

Both men end up falling for Chicago Tribune news reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger), and the two men begin fighting over her. Confessions are made and. . .you know, I don't want to give away too much of the plot, so I'll stop there for now.

The Duluth Bulldogs are based on an actual, former NFL team in the Duluth Eskimos. Clooney had said that they wanted to use the name "Eskimos" in the movie, but because there was drinking in the movie, the NFL apparently told Clooney that they couldn't use the real names.

And that's our first match-up in the Greatest Football Movie Ever tournament. Cast your votes here. . .voting will be open until Thursday morning, when we'll present the next match-up in the tournament. Discussion and debate to take place in the comments section.

Have at it, ladies and gentlemen!