Rogue 10: Ten Inspirational Cinematic Football Players

Monday, 09 April 2012 11:12 Written by  iamrogue
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Rogue 10: Ten Inspirational Cinematic Football Players

In the especially great 'Games' episode of the fantastic public radio series Radiolab, Stephen Dubner says that sports fandom is "a proxy for all our emotions, desires, and hopes."  Who hasn't experienced the elation seeing their team pull out a miraculous win at the last minute?  Sports movies take the inherent drama of spectator sports and increase their universality, including even non-sports fans on the stakes of a game, a season, an entire sport.

This Friday, the new drama Touchback uses football to tell an inspiring and family-friendly story of regret, redemption, and inspiration.  The film, which also stars Kurt Russell and Melanie Lynsky, follows Brian Presley as a hugely promising high school athlete whose dreams of professional glory are derailed by a knee injury.  Fifteen years later, he has the unique opportunity to change his own history.

Touchback's imminent release has everybody here at IAR thinking about the cinematic gridiron, and those characters who have provided inspiration to us in a variety of different ways.  So, with Touchback in mind, we've put together the latest Rogue 10, a listing, in no particular order, of especially inspiration football players.  Whether through grit, talent, determination, or sincerity, these ten characters are football players who bring audiences to their feet.

Here they are, ten inspiration movie football players:

Becky 'Icebox' O'Shea (Shawna Waldron), Little Giants

The toughest guy on the field needn't be a guy.  After being cut from the local peewee team despite her obvious talent, Becky O'Shea is determined to prove herself, but her focus drifts thanks to a crush.  The ensuing identity crisis between on-the-field enforcer and smitten adolescent girl causes Becky to abandon her team, but eventually, she reconciles her Icebox status with her more feminine, cheerleader-y impulses.

Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler), The Waterboy

Bobby Boucher is an imbecilic thirty-one year old waterboy for a floundering college team, but he doesn't let his obvious mental deficiencies keep him down.  Instead, the H2O enthusiast discovers that years of sublimated rage make him an unstoppable tackling machine, and the Creole moron leads his team to the made-up Bourbon Bowl.

Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler), Friday Night Lights


Okay, this one is cheating in that Eric Taylor is a coach, not a player, and Friday Night Lights is a television show, not a movie.  But the series, which ran for five seasons on NBC, was based on the film of the same name, and Coach Taylor is just too inspiring to leave off the list.  He's the football coach everyone wishes they had, a guy whose decency always shines through and makes everyone around him better.

Nigel 'The Leg' Gruff (Rhys Ifans), The Replacements

One of two kickers on the list, this Welsh libertine spends most of his time on the sidelines smoking cigarettes, but when called upon to call kick an ungodly 65 yard field goal, he tells his quarterback simply, "You just hold the ball, Shane, and I'll kick the bloody piss out of it."  That's confidence you can't fake.

Billy Bob (Ron Lester), Varsity Blues


William Robert isn't the sharpest guy in West Canaan, Texas.  In fact, it's unclear whether he's aware that his pet pig Bacon isn't actually a dog, but Billy Bob is unfailingly loyal to his teammates and his evil coach.  So much so that he endures years of abuse and serious brain trauma without complaint.  

David Greene (Brendan Fraser), School Ties

Greene's good enough on the field that the kid from the wrong side of the tracks is recruited by a prep school for the fabulously wealthy during the 1950s, but it's his conduct off the field that makes him worth paying attention to.  When his classmates ostracize him after discovering that David's Jewish, he faces their bigotry with dignity and an unbreakable backbone.

Lucy Draper (Kathy Ireland), Necessary Roughness


The other kicker on the list, Lucy is the lone woman on the Fightin' Armadillos.  When the team of misfits need a kicker, it falls to this soccer player, who doesn't let her near-total inexperience, ravishing beauty, or stilted and unnatural acting style encumber her natural talent.

Paul 'Wrecking' Crewe (Burt Reynolds), The Longest Yard


Burt Reynold also appeared in the recent remake, but it's in the 1974 that the Reynolds swagger comes through best.  A former professional player who ends up in prison, Crewe remains a bit of a scoundrel, even when the warden gives him the assignment of creating a team of inmates to play against the sadistic guards who torture them.  It's because Crewe is the kind of guy who gives real thought to throwing the game that his eventual loyalty means so much.

Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams), Brian's Song

It takes a tough guy to play football.  It takes a real man to wear his heart on his sleeve.  When his formal rival and teammate must face a terminal illness, Gale sticks with his friend, and his earnestness is always admirable, but by the end, it's almost guaranteed to get your tears flowing.

Daneil E. 'Rudy' Ruettiger (Sean Astin), Rudy

RU-DY! RU-DY! RU-DY!  No, I'm not crying.  There's just something in my eye.  I swear.

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