Taking things one inch at a time with clear eyes, full hearts ... can't lose: 10 memorable football speeches
“This is our house!” “This is our time!” “It all comes down to this.” They’re phrases we’ve all heard before, and they’re phrases we’ve come to expect from sports movies and television shows, along with an epic training sequence and at least one injured player. But every now and then, a sports production steps up its game with a speech that makes us cheer and, at least briefly, want to get off the couch and do something athletic.
In honor of the upcoming Super Bowl, here are the 10 movie and television football speeches that we can’t —that we won’t — stop rooting for:
10) The Replacements — “Fear”
Gene Hackman’s approach to a locker room speech in The Replacements isn’t the traditional pep talk, but it is both necessary and effective. By asking grown men to confront their fears, he (along with a shaggy-haired Keanu Reeves) inspires a team of second-chance athletes to make the most of their time on the field.
9) Little Giants — “One Time”
From motivating grown men to motivating children, Little Giants is all about playing football because it’s fun. Besides, all it takes to win is one game … one out of 100.
8) Rudy — “Our house”
Rudy’s “our house” speech is somewhat predictable, but made more effective by the fact that it’s being spoken to the tiny-player-who-could. Convincing a 5’6 man that nobody comes into his house and pushes him around is not an easy task.
7) We Are Marshall — “We cannot lose”
Taking his speech to the local cemetery, Matthew McConaughey motivates his team by reliving the past and then leaving it all behind, funerals included. Add in some cheesy music and a “We are Marshall” chant, and you’ve got a formula for a classic sports-movie speech.
6) Friday Night Lights — “Perfect”
Billy Bob Thornton is good for a lot of things — striking fear in the hearts of people and seducing Angelina Jolie to name a few — but motivating a football team? We didn’t believe it either, until he delivered a halftime speech about being perfect and what it means to play with a full heart.
5) Jerry Maguire — “Show me the money”
Cuba Gooding Jr. wins the award for the least-clothed speech when he delivers the famous “show me the money” line while dancing around his house shirtless.
4) Undefeated — “Failure”
This Oscar-winning documentary shows the true story of a high school football team’s once-in-a-lifetime season, complete with an unscripted speech that makes us want to pick up a pair of cleats … that we don’t actually own.
3) Remember the Titans — “Blitz all night”
If anything is more effective than the locker room pep talk, it’s the sideline pep talk. For example, Coach Yoast’s unforgettable speech (to a young Ryan Gosling) just seconds before the boys take the field in Remember the Titans makes us remember forever the moment that he tells those boys to “blitz all night.”
2) Friday Night Lights — “Clear eyes, full hearts”
One whiteboard, five letters and one Coach Taylor stare is all it takes. Add in the occasional “You listen to me” and “I’m proud of you” pep talk, and you’ve got the master of sincerity, the king of speeches. If Kyle Chandler can’t give a speech, we don’t know who can. Right here, right now … clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
1) Any Given Sunday — “Game of inches”
Al Pacino’s calm delivery of his halftime speech in Any Given Sunday comes together in the same way as life and football: inch by inch. Holding the attention of physically exhausted football players (and an emotionally exhausted audience) for nearly five minutes is something only Pacino could achieve.
Now let’s go play some football! Or, in our case, watch more football movies.
Any Given Sunday