Left side, strong side: 7 tear-jerking scenes from football movies (and a TV show)

This year’s Super Bowl pits brother against brother (49ers coach Jim Harbaugh vs. Ravens coach John Harbaugh). When this story inevitably becomes a movie (or, probably, made-for-TV-movie), we’re betting there will be a scene of mutual acceptance where one brother says he’s sorry he underestimated the other and the other responds “having you for a brother is greater than any Super Bowl ring.” And we predict we will need tissues.

There’s something about football (and football movies) that heightens emotions. Maybe it’s the competition, the agony of defeat, the glory of victory, the metaphors of what bringing a team together really mean, but whatever it is we find ourselves uncontrollably sobbing after every major touchdown, career-ending injury, or life-affirming gesture. Here are seven (well really nine) moments that left us reaching for the tissues.

1.     “Everybody leaves me”– Friday Night Lights, (“Leave No One Behind” Season 2, Episode 14)

While this scene isn’t quite about football, no show demonstrated the bond between coach and athlete quite like Friday Night Lights. Like most of the show, the scene isn’t  overly staged. It’s just raw and heartbreaking.

2.     “I want Rudy to dress in my place, coach” — Rudy, 1993

Rudy never gave up his dream to play college football and in his final game, his team showed him he didn’t have to. For anyone who’s ever had a dream they were so close to achieving, this scene is a heartwarming, even if The Newsroom did kind of ruin it.

3.“I can’t do nothing else but play football,” – Friday Night Lights, 2004

This one’s almost unbearable. After injuring his knee during a game, Boobie Miles (Derek Luke) has to clean out his locker and accept that he will never play football again. In this scene, Miles tries to be strong, but he breaks down in the car.

4.“Left side, strong side”– Remember the Titans, 2000

Something finally clicks, Bertier (Ryan Hurst) stands up for his teammate and instead of having some huge inspirational speech Bertier and Julius (Wood Harris) confirm their newfound friendship—or at least newfound trust— with a little playful aggression.

Oh, plus, if you didn’t cry the first time, you definitely cried at the end:

5. “I loved Brian Piccolo and I’d like all of you to love him too” – Brian’s Song, 1971

Everything about the whole movie makes us cry! Chicago Bears football player Brian Piccolo died of cancer at age 26. In this speech, his teammate Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) honors his friend.

6.“Four seconds is a lifetime”– Any Given Sunday, 1999

This scene has all the “big moment in the game” staples (some would say clichés): slow motion, dramatic music, delayed gratification, lighting (ok, so maybe the lightning isn’t new). It’s doing everything to make us cry and, well, it succeeds.

7. “Just let me enjoy this for a minute” - Jerry Maguire, 1996

Ever since he told Jerry (Tom Cruise) to show him the money, we’ve wanted Rod (Cuba Gooding Jr.) to succeed. He makes the touchdown, but is he injured? Well, you can see:

(And how could we not mention this?)

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