The 20 Most Memorable Representations of Real-Life football coaches

The 20 Most Memorable Representations of Real-Life football coaches
The Most Memorable Representations of Real-Life football coaches

Most Memorable Representations of Real-Life football coaches: Dennis Quaid as Dıck Vermeil, Ernest Borgnine as Vince Lombardi, Jim Caviezel as Bob Ladouceur, Harry Belafonte as Eddie Robinson, Michael Harding as Jim Grobe and more

Coaches in sports often have a cult of personality around them. They have fans like the players. With all due respect to their baseball managers and basketball coaches, football coaches seem to garner the most admiration and fandom. Like athletes, coaches often appear in movies and on television.

Here are some of the best and worst examples of real football coaches in the world of fiction.

1. Dennis Quaid as Dıck Vermeil

We’re ending here because this is a double duty for Quaid and Vermeil. On top of that, we’re heading back to American Underdog. After all, it was Vermeil who was the Rams’ head coach when Warner joined the team. He was a bit older than when he was coaching the Eagles in the Invincible days, which is why somebody like Quaid is playing him now.

2. Ernest Borgnine as Vince Lombardi

Lombardi is such an NFL legend the Super Bowl trophy is named after him. There was a Broadway play called Lombardi, where Dan Lauria (the dad from The Wonder Years) played the Packers coach. Many years earlier, back in 1973, Oscar-winner Borgnine played Lombardi in the made-for-TV movie Legend in Granite.

3. Jim Caviezel as Bob Ladouceur

Ladouceur took over De La Salle high school in California and turned it into the biggest powerhouse in high school football. Not just in the state, but in the country. He won 11 national titles, and from 1992 until 2004, they did not lose a single game. We’re talking 151 wins in a row. Ladouceur earned himself a biopic in When the Game Stands Tall, where he was played by Caviezel, who also played Jesus once.

4. Harry Belafonte as Eddie Robinson

Eddie Robinson coached the Grambling Tigers for 54 years, becoming one of the most successful college football coaches ever. He’s not the focal point of Grambling’s White Tiger . That would be Jim Gregory, who became the first white player at the HBCU standout. Belafonte did some acting, but he’s probably best known for his music career.

5. Michael Harding as Jim Grobe

It’s understandable if you missed The 5th Quarter . It only made $408,000 in the United States. Maybe people weren’t interested in the store of the 2006 Wake Forest football team, which was inspired by the death of Luke Abbate, the brother of Wake Forest player Jon Abbate. Grobe was the coach of the Demon Deacons at the time, but Harding is not necessarily a known actor. He doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page.

6. Charles Bickford as Pop Warner

Jim Thorpe is a legend of sports. Pop Warner is a legend of football. They are both featured in Jim Thorpe – All-American. Oscar winner Burt Lancaster plays Thorpe, while Bickford plays Warner. Bickford, by the way, was nominated for three Academy Awards. (“Man of Bronze” was the title in the U.K., for the record.)

7. Richard Herd as Chuck Noll

Rocky Bleier’s career took a lot of twists and turns. He was a running back for the Steelers, went to Vietnam, got injured in battle, and was told he may not walk again. Instead, he returned to play for the Steelers and won a Super Bowl. Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story is the made-for-TV version of that story. Herd plays Steelers coach Chuck Noll. You may know Herd as Mr. Wilhelm on Seinfeld.

8. Chelcie Ross as Dan Devine

When Parseghian retired, Devine took over. That’s right, Rudy features TWO Notre Dame head coaches. Parseghian had planned to play Rudy, but then Devine didn’t want to, making Ross the pseudo-villain of this movie.

9. Jason Miller as Ara Parseghian

Rudy is perhaps the ultimate underdog sports movie. An undersized player walks onto the Notre Dame roster and even gets on the field. Miller plays Parseghian, who had saved the Fighting Irish when he took over in 1964 and then retired in 1973.

10. Gary Busey as Bear Bryant

Until Nick Saban rolled around, Bear was considered by many to be the best college football coach ever. Naturally, he got multiple depictions on screen. Busey plays the legendary Alabama coach in The Bear, which came out one year after Bryant died. The Bear did not consider SEO when it was titled, and there are a handful of movies with the same name.

11. Tom Berenger as Bear Bryant

Back in the day, Bear Bryant put his Texas A&M team through a brutal summer training camp in Junction, Texas. The players that “survived” were called the “Junction Boys.” This was when Bryant’s style of coaching was venerated instead of reviled. The Junction Boys is a made-for-TV movie from ESPN that aired in 2002. Berenger played Bryant, while most players were Australians doing Texas accents. By the way, Bryant’s team went 1-9 after the Junction summer, so all that brutal training was useless.

12. Chance Kelly as Mike Martz

Kelly, a character actor, plays Martz in American Underdog . The movie chronicles the surprise rise of Kurt Warner, who famously went from grocery store employee to Hall of Famer. While Zachary Levi’s turn as Warner is the focal point, Martz is along for the ride.

13. Denzel Washington as Herman Boone

Boone took T.C. Williams High School in Virginia to great heights in 1971. This was with the school having recently integrated, which the movie probably handles in a bit of a facile way. Hey, it’s a feel-good sports movie. When Washington is giving his gravitas to a project, we tend to be more forgiving.

14. Pat O’Brien as Knute Rockne

This is the famous “Win one for the Gipper” speech movie. The Gipper, a.k.a. George Gipp, was played by a young Ronald Reagan. O’Brien played the titular Notre Dame head coach in Knute Rockne, All American . A few famous head coaches at the time, such as Howard Jones and Alonzo Stagg, play themselves.

15. Greg Kinnear as Dıck Vermeil

Finally, a break from tragedy. Invincible is about Vince Papale, who was basically the NFL equivalent of a walk-on for the Philadelphia Eagles. Vermeil coached the Eagles then, so he’s around in the true story played by Greg Kinnear.

16. Al Pacino as Joe Paterno

Pacino got himself into a thing where he was tossing on a ton of makeup and prosthetics to play controversial figures, though we don’t want to equate Jack Kevorkian with Phil Spector. Also in the mix was Joe Paterno, the Penn State head coach who was a beloved figure in Happy Valley and around college football until, well, things got really bleak.

17. Matthew McConaughey as Jack Lengyel

It turns out that a lot of sports movies inspired by actual events are often steeped in tragedy. In 1970, the Marshall Thundering Herd was involved in an airplane crash that killed all 75 people on board, including 37 Marshall players and head coach Rick Tolley. After that tragedy, Lengyel stepped in to coach the Thundering Herd. In We Are Marshall, Lengyel is played by McConaughey. It’s not too shabby to get played by a People’s Sexiest Man Alive winner.

18. Dennis Quaid as Ben Schwartzwalder

Ernie Davis made history at Syracuse, winning the Heisman Trophy and turning the Orange into a powerhouse. Sadly, he died at 23 before playing a down of NFL football. The Express: The Ernie Davis Story is about Davis’ time at Syracuse, with Quaid playing his head coach in Schwartzwalder.

19. Jack Warden as George Halas

Brian’s Song is sort of the quintessential “men’s weepie,” as it’s about sports AND somebody’s friend dying of cancer. Those friends are Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo of the Chicago Bears. Billy Dee Williams and James Caan memorably played the two close friends, but Warden was also around as Halas, the coach and owner of the Bears at the time.

20. Kevin James as Sean Payton

James is not exactly a dead ringer for Payton, the longtime New Orleans Saints coach. He is, however, friends with Adam Sandler, which got him the starring role in Home Team from Sandler’s production company. Yes, Rob Schneider is also in it. The movie is a dramatization of the year that Payton was coaching his kid’s football team while suspended from the NFL for Bountygate.

The 20 Most Memorable Representations of Real-Life football coaches

Coaches in sports often have a cult of personality around them. They have fans like the players. With all due respect to their baseball managers and basketball coaches, football coaches seem to garner the most admiration and fandom. Like athletes, coaches often appear in movies and on television. These are some of the best and worst examples of real soccer managers in the world of fiction.

The Most Memorable Representations of Real-Life football coaches [with image]

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The 30 greatest postseason players in MLB history

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