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Greatest Football Movie Ever Tournament: Brian's Song vs Any Given Sunday

Finally, the second round of our tournament can get underway, as we've reduced each bracket from eight to four. As I stated in an earlier post, hopefully the match-ups for this round will be a little closer than the ones from the previous round.

After the jump, the first of our second-round match-ups gets underway!

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.

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.

And there you have it, folks! Discuss, debate, and most importantly vote!