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Greatest Football Movie Ever Tournament: Invincible vs The Replacements

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Our second semi-final match-up of the Professional bracket is now upon us, and the winner of this one will take on the winner of the closest match-up we've had yet. . .Any Given Sunday. Yes, Al Pacino and company managed to pull out what I think is an upset over Brian's Song by a margin of only three votes, 92-89, where there were only 181 votes cast.

Our second match-up after the jump. . .and I apologize for being a bit slow in getting this one up here today, as my "day job" has been whooping my tail pretty good lately.


Invincible, which came out in 2006, is based on the true story of Vince Papale (puh-PAUL-ee), who played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1976 to 1978.

Papale, played in the movie by Mark Wahlberg, has just lost his part-time job as a teacher and has just taken a job as a bartender. Oh, and his wife left him, too, being kind enough to take all their stuff and leave him a note to say that he'll never amount. . .in my best Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker voice. . .to JACK SQUAT. One night at the bar, he overhears a press conference with the new head coach of the hometown Philadelphia Eagles. . .a guy you may or may not have heard of by the name of Dick Vermeil (played in the movie by Greg Kinnear). . .announce that the Eagles are going to have an open tryout, which is basically unheard of at the National Football League level. So, after much prodding from his friends at the bar, he decides he's going to try out for the team.

Since this is a Disney movie, a couple of liberties are taken with the facts. The real Vince Papale had actually spent the two seasons prior to his time with the Eagles playing with the Philadelphia Bell of the old World Football League as a wide receiver and special teams monster. That performance got him an invitation to Vermeil's practice. . .which was not an open tryout as the movie says, but rather a workout that was invitation only.

Papale eventually became the Eagles' special teams captain, and played in 41 of 44 career games before a shoulder injury ended his career. While Invincible may take a few liberties with the facts, it's still a good, inspirational film.

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.

There you go, ladies and gentlemen. . .have at it!