Not much to report in Dolphinland with the strike still raging. A recent article reported that Ricky Williams would like to return to Miami, despite his comments at the end of last season about Coach Tony Sparano's micromanaging, and the Dolphins saying they seek someone with the speed to complement second-round pick Daniel Thomas.
Also, Pat White resurfaced recently, retiring from baseball so he could play in the UFL.
Other than that, there has been no movement on the Miami front. So, with summer in full swing and no sign of an end to the lockout, I thought it would be fun to present my picks for the top five football movies of all time.
There have been dozens of football movies made over the years, but few have been top-quality. But then again, besides boxing and baseball, name another sport that has had many memorable films based on it. Here are my humble picks below (again, these are my own personal choices):
5. Rudy (1993). Starring Sean Astin as the title character, this is one of the more inspirational sports movies you'll see, and that's saying something, because they all seem to strive for that kind of sentiment. And although the facts are debatable, as none other than former Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana said his teammates had no idea Rudy was even on the field for his momentous end-of-game sack, the story still overwhelms at the finish. Rudy's rise from non-entity to hero is as heart-warming as it gets.
4. North Dallas Forty (1979). Based on the book of the same name by former Dallas Cowboys receiver Peter Gent, this was one of the first films to chronicle football's dark side, with plenty of pill-popping, infidelity, and corrupt management taking advantage of its players. Nick Nolte is fantastic as the jaded receiver who is trying to maintain his career despite the obstacles he endures for his sport.
3. Wildcats (1986). I actually saw this in theaters when I was a kid, and it remains my favorite pigskin-based comedy (no, I have not seen the Marx Brothers classic, "Horse Feathers"). The characters are a bit broad and play into stereotypes, but it was definitely different to see Goldie Hawn as a football coach. Hawn is terrific, as are future stars Mykelti T. Williamson, Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes. The music is dated, but still good, and the relationship between Hawn and her players makes this a standout.
2. Invincible (2006). I was pleasantly surprised at how well-done this true story about Philadelphia Eagles walk-on Vince Papale turned out. Mark Wahlberg delivers a solid performance as Papale, a former bartender who decides on a whim to attend open tryouts in Dick Vermeil's first season with the Eagles, and to his and everyone else's surprise, he makes the team. Elizabeth Banks is Papale's girlfriend, and Greg Kinnear captures Vermeil's legendary intensity as the coach.
1. The Longest Yard (1974). No, I have not seen the Adam Sandler remake, as I believe it could never capture the magic of the Burt Reynolds original. Reynolds, a former college football player at FSU, is at the top of his game as an imprisoned former NFL star who now must do the bidding of an evil warden (Eddie Albert, in another great performance). Reynolds' struggle with his conscience reaches its climax in the big game, which is not for any title, but for something far simpler: respect for prisoners who have been harassed and tormented by the guards for years. Still the undsiputed champ of football movies.
Honorable mention: Brian's Song (1971), Any Given Sunday (1999), Remember the Titans (2000), Friday Night Lights (2005)