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2011 WCG Football Film Tournament

We here at Windy City Gridiron like to have a good time. That should be obvious if you've ever been to our comment threads, any of our posts, or watched us pick on each other via Twitter.

We wanted to bring you something fun as we lead up to the 2011 season. Especially since we're pretty sure it will actually happen now. So we've decided to bring you an opportunity to make your feelings known.

The WCG community is going to decide what the greatest football movie of all time is. No pressure.

We have 4 divisions, all named after legendary coaches in the Chicago Bears history. (That means coaches who won more games than they've lost.)

There are 8 teams per division. Each division, the films, and their descriptions (as summarized by us) are listed below.

For the next month, look for polls to be posted to the front page daily that you can vote on your favorites. Each poll will be open for 24 hours, so you'll have the opportunity to make yourself heard--but don't just vote. Make sure to justify your decisions in the comments so we can go through.

This'll be a long one, and will go throughout the preseason.  Check back Tuesday morning for the first match-up, and enjoy!

Lovie Smith Division

(1)Remember The Titans
(8)The Express
(4)The Longest Yard '74
(5)The Longest Yard '05
(3)Friday Night Lights
(2)The Blind Side
(7)Heaven Can Wait


First Seed
Remember The Titans (2000) - Denzel Washington, a young Hayden Panettiere, and an otherwise stellar cast lead this tale of a young interracial football team back when that wasn't the standard. Tension reigns supreme, tempers flare, and people learn life lessons. All this set with the backdrop of the greatest thing in the world: football.

Second Seed
The Blind Side (2009) - . Based on the true story of Baltimore Ravens player Michael Oher. The tale of a young African-American man with not much going for him besides his size, this film garnered an Academy Award for actress Sandra Bullock, who brings the young man home, shows him some family, and teaches him about the great person inside, as well as out. This, of course, is through the life lesson of football.

Third Seed
Friday Night Lights (2004) - People in Texas are crazy into high school football, and this fictionalized account follows the Permian Panthers run to the championship in 1988. Headlined by Billy Bob Thornton, this young group learns the powers of love, life, and becoming men, set against the backdrop of one truly thrilling season.

Fourth Seed
The Longest Yard (1974) - Convicts vs. Guards in a game of football. A lot of story gets you to the match up of inmates vs convicts, and the convicts find that they can, indeed, beat the guard team made up of several former NFLers, including Ray Nitschke, Pervis Atkins, Ernie Weelwright, and Ray Ogden.

Fifth Seed
The Longest Yard (2005) - This Adam Sandler remake is full of stars. It features Burt Reynolds, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Nelly, William Fichtner, Michael Irvin, Bob Sapp, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Dan Patrick and many, many more. Same general plot as before, but updated for a generation that doesn't want to watch movies featuring the guy from Celebrity Jeopardy.

Sixth Seed
Invincible (2006) - Based on the true story of Vince Papale, a Philadelphia bartender who made the Eagles roster following an open tryout. Mark Wahlberg stars as Papale, in the kind of working class role that Wahlberg was tailor made for. Starring the dashing Elizabeth Banks, and a turn by Greg Kinnear as Dick Vermeil, this is a great story of an underdog who blows the expectations out of the water.

Seventh Seed
Heaven Can Wait (1978) - The LA Rams QB (yeah, I know. Sounds weird now.) has is life accidentally taken away before its time by an overzealous angel. He gets his  

Eighth Seed
The Express (2008) - Based on the real-life story of college football hero Ernie Davis, The Express will remind some moviegoers of the heart-tugging Brian's Song. Ernie Davis was a star athlete at Syracuse University and the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. Unlike other winners of that era, he wasn't allowed to attend his banquet dinner because the venue didn't serve blacks. He died of leukemia at the age of 23 in 1963. That element of his story is well known to football fans.

George Halas Division

(4)Horse Feathers
(5)Everybody's All-American
(3)Brian's Song
(6)Jim Thorpe All-American
(2)Knute Rockne, All-American
(7)Paper Lion


First Seed
Rudy (1993) - Based on the true story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, this movie is tailor made to be super inspiring. An undersized guy with the heart of a lion, Danny Boy has one dream--playing football for the Fighting Irish. An unlikely candidate, he makes the team and gets that brief taste of glory. Warning: someone will probably be cutting onions in the room. (Side note: look for a young Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn.

Second Seed
Knute Rockne, All-American (1940) - Ronald Reagan portrays George "The Gipper" Gipp in this classic film about the life of Notre Dame’s most famous coach. Have you ever said "Win one for the Gipper?" If so, you've wittingly or unwittingly quoted this old-school football classic.

Third Seed
Brian's Song (1971) - If you haven't seen Brian's Song, you should probably get around to that, before everyone at WCG finds out and banishes you to Detroit. Chicago Bears FB Brian Piccolo was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and this film follows his friendship with Gayle Sayers. Start with the Bears connection, and stay for the heartbreaking story. There won't be onions cut--it's ok to cry at this one.

Fourth Seed
Horse Feathers (1932) - The Marx brothers zany slapstick is on in full force, in this nearly 80 year old film that still feels contemporary with its commentary on college football. At the end is a scene with a garbage wagon drawn by horses that, well, you have to see to truly appreciate.

Fifth Seed
Everybody's All American (1988) - QB Gavin Grey has it all going right. He's going pro, and he's got the girl. As we follow through his life though, we find out, "The best laid plans..." and all that good stuff. With Dennis Quaid and Jessica Lange.

Sixth Seed
Jim Thorpe All-American (1951) - Based on the real-life story of Native American Jim Thorpe. Thorpe went from reservation, to collegiate, to Olympic, then Pro Star. A technicality takes away his medals, and his coaching dreams are ripped away,his life begins to unravel. The only one still watching, his coach at Carlisle, Pop Warner.

Seventh Seed
Paper Lion (1968) - George Plimpton tried out for the 3rdQB position with the Lions (which, hell, maybe I should try.) He wrote a book about that experience, and then Alan Alda (a very young Alda, I might add) starred in the movie.

Eighth Seed
Leatherheads - George Clooney directs and stars in this tale of the early days of professional football. More farce than fact, it also stars Jim from The Office and Lemoneater McSquintyface from Jerry Maguire.

Mike Ditka Division

(1)North Dallas Forty
(8)Gridiron Gang
(4)The Program
(5)We Are Marshall
(3)All The Right Moves
(6)The Junction Boys
(2)Any Given Sunday
(7)The Best of Times


First Seed
North Dallas Forty (1979) - This adaptation of the sort of biography book by Peter Gent (Cowboys WR). This story is all about the exploits of Phillip Elliott (Nick Nolte), who is often fueled by drugs and alcohol, and quarterback Mac Davis. It's non-traditional ending often sticks with fans of the sports genre.

Second Seed
Any Given Sunday (1999) - Oliver Stone directs this movie following the Al Pacino coached Sharks, as they go from injured veteran QB Cap (Dennis Quaid) to backup Willie Beamen. (Jamie Foxx). Chronicling the rise of Beamen, and the jealousy of Cap, we also get a look at the seedy backside to professional football, from endorsements, drugs, sex, and dare I say performance enhancement. We also watch as the young owner of the team (a spectacularly bitch-y turn by Cameron Diaz) clashes with the coach of the old guard.

Third Seed
All The Right Moves (1983) - Tom Cruises stars as a high school defensive back with nothing but upside, and we watch as he excels and clashes with his head coach. As the coach takes out his issues on the team, Stefan steps up and they work through their differences. Also, check out a young Lea Thompson, a few short years before she became Mrs. George McFly.

Fourth Seed
The Program (1993) - Like Any Given Sunday shows us the shady side of professional football, The Program shows us the shady side of the college game. James Caan plays the coach of a program who's integrating a new running back, has a quarterback with a myriad of personal issues, and dabbles in the areas performance enhancing drugs, the perks of being a college player, and some of the things they would never want you to know about.

Fifth Seed
We Are Marshall (2006) - In 1970, virtually the entire football program at Marshall University died in a plane crash. This film chronicles the attempts to rebuild the Marshall program out of the ashes of tragedy. Matthew McConaughey as Jack Lengyel, who helps petition the NCAA to allow freshmen to play, and leads a band of young men on an emotional journey to acceptance.

Sixth Seed
The Junction Boys (2002) - Bear Bryant had a legendary training camp in the middle of the desert, and didn't allow water breaks,  or any general rest of any kind. This is the story of the guys who were able to survive that brutal encounter.

Seventh Seed
The Best of Times (1986) - In spectacularly believable circumstances, Robin Williams plays a receiver who drops the big pass in the big game in high school. Reminded of his failure daily, he convinces everyone on both teams and the fans to re-enact the game, so that he can have one more chance. Kurt Russell co-stars as the quarterback.

Eighth Seed
Gridiron Gang (2006) - Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) teaches juvenile delinquents the importance of honor and responsibility through the magic prism of football. The kids learn discipline, and the Rock learns understanding, and then they have their big matchup.

Ralph Jones Division

(1)The Waterboy
(8)Johnny Be Good
(4)Necessary Roughness
(3)Little Giants
(6)Varsity Blues
(2)The Replacements
(7)The Game Plan


First Seed
The Waterboy (1998) - Adam Sandler plays a dim-witted waterboy with an overbearing mom. When it turns out this kid has some football skills, a sketchy coach from a sub-par band rides him to victory, and everyone learns a lesson. This movie stars litterally everyone who has ever been in an Adam Sandler film.

Second Seed
The Replacements (2000) - During a players strike, a league that is IN NO WAY SUPPOSED TO BE THE NFL brings in replacement players. Keanu Reeves plays Shane Falco, who choked away the big game in his career. Coached by Gene Hackman, he leads a band of misfits all the way until...*gasp*...the 'regular' players return.

Third Seed
Little Giants (1995) - Rick Moranis plays Danny, a weeny little fellow who's always lived in the shadow his Heisman-winning brother Kevin (Ed O'Neill). Kevin coaches the town pee-wee team, and when Danny's daughter tries out, she doesn't make the cut. She talks Dad into coaching a new team, and these teams fight to see who represents the town. Just as the Little Giants are losing hope, John Madden and others show up to teach them that it's the fight they have in them, and not their size that will make them champions.

Fourth Seed
Necessary Roughness (1991) - Texas State's entire team and coaching staff get kicked out for scandals and NCAA violations. The school doesn't have scholarships, and the team is on it's last legs. Hell, even the Dean wants them to fail so he can shut them down. The new coach recruits Scott Bakula as a 34 year old who'd not been to college, and this group of unlikely characters comes together with the backdrop of football. And there's a lot of cameos. A lot.

Fifth Seed
Wildcats (1986) - Goldie Hawn is the daughter of a coach who wants her own team. Then she gets her chance--with an inner city high school team. Breaking all concepts of race and gender relations, this unlikely pairing not only gets to the championship--but they learn a little something from each other.

Sixth Seed
Varsity Blues (1999) - Another example of Texas at it's high school football-worshipping best. Lance Harbor is the star of the West Canaan Coyotes. He goes down in a game, and is backed up by bookish, smart, but capable Moxon. As Lance watches his celebrated status go away, Moxon suddenly becomes aware of the perks of being "the guy." As they deal with a tyrannical coach, Mox realizes there are way more things important than football.

Seventh Seed
The Game Plan (2007) - A super successful NFL Quarterback is living the high life until he finds out that he has a 7 year old daughter. Then he juggles the sports world and his new found parenthood as hijinks ensue.

Eighth Seed
Johnny Be Good (1998) - Former movie nerd Anthony Michael Hall plays a top high school prospect, who's getting offered everything by every school except the local state college. His girlfriend wants him to go there, his best friend Robert Downey, Jr. wants him to take the best deal. Not sure what he wants to do, they go to the recruitment sessions as he wrestles with what he wants to do.