With the NFL lockout over and the return of Sunday football imminent, you might be wondering what all the fuss was about. No film captures the hard knocks of player-owner relations better than "North Dallas Forty," a seminal look at the NFL starring Nick Nolte as a banged-up wide receiver for a semifictional pro team in Texas. From 1979, it still stands as an unusually honest look at the pros, especially the less savory aspects usually swept under the rug.
Here are five other excellent-if-lesser-seen football films, to keep you occupied before the arrival of NFL Sunday Ticket:
Knute Rockne, All American (1940) — Unabashed sports mythology, the opposite of "North Dallas Forty." But so good.
All the Right Moves (1983) — Classic Tom Cruise vehicle, the "Hoosiers" of football movies.
Everybody's All-American (1988) — Football movie as American epic. Golden boy Dennis Quaid reduced to ruin by the game. (No wonder: He plays for the Redskins.)
The Slaughter Rule (2002) — Early Ryan Gosling feature. High-school football star tries to find solace in a scruffy six-man league.
Big Fan (2009) — The other side of the game. Spectators who take it very, very seriously.