Big Ben: Egregious Sports Errors in Football Movies

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STAMFORD, CT: Well, there’s finally been some movement on the sports front. The fat man sitting poolside for the past nine weeks drinking margaritas has finally struggled to his feet and is considering sticking a toe in the water. But there’s a long way to go before the monster cannonball. We’ll have to keep making due with sports movies for a while. I caught the end of Friday Night Lights the other night and it got me thinking about Egregious Sports Errors in Football Movies. We’ve got three blunders on tap today, so let’s huddle up.

Clear Eyes Full Hearts

The Most Efficient Clock Management of All Time

In Friday Night Lights, the Permian Panthers are staging a furious second half comeback but the defense needs one more stop. After giving up a first down, there is a little over two minutes shown on the running clock. The next three plays are tackles in bounds setting up a fourth and short. Let’s assume Permian had all their time outs and used two of them here, because they use one later on offense. So that’s at least one play where the clock would have been running.

But just before the fourth down stuff, the clock is shown just passing two minutes somehow.  That’s a lot of football in 10 elapsed seconds. Then when Permian gets the ball back, they run about 37 offensive plays before getting stuffed on the one. They use their final time out when FB Billingsley has to get his dislocated shoulder popped back in and finally earns the respect of his drunken old man, Tim McGraw. But most of the other plays are tackles in bounds that mostly wouldn’t have stopped the clock, besides temporarily on the first downs. The timekeeper must have been on Permian’s payroll.

This one didn’t make the cut. Flawless.

This was based on a true story, so maybe this was how it happened. But I reckon “based” is the key word and it was embellished like Jordan embellished The Last Dance.

Backup QB Not Needed

The Replacements is a bad movie that I always seem to watch for a little while when I come across it. Keanu Reeves plays Shane Falco, the replacement QB who’s about to lead a lovable band of misfits to the playoffs while the NFL (or whatever the fictional football league is called) regulars are on strike.

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But the regular QB, the obligatory blond -haired cocky jerk in the mold of Stan Gable, crosses the picket line and decides to play in the biggest game on the season. Keanu is quickly jettisoned and sent home for the big game. These teams don’t need backup QBs I guess…

Not those Replacements

As if that isn’t bad enough, after a predictably terrible first half by the hot shot QB, Falco shows up at halftime. He pops into the locker room just in time for the jerky QB to say “no one can win with these guys” as Keanu responds with his most dramatic “I can.” In the biggest Oscar injustice since Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture, Reeves was snubbed by the Academy for the Best Actor nod.

In this version of football you don’t have to submit an active game day roster. They can grab some dude off the street and throw him in at halftime. It would’ve made way more sports sense if Falco was just brooding on the sideline instead of watching the first half at home in his houseboat. They still could’ve had the cornball “I can” moment.

The Season Killing Penalty

In Jerry McGuire, star WR Rod Tidwell catches a huge TD pass in a crucial game against the Cowboys that would get them into the playoffs. But Tidwell is knocked unconscious on the play.

He finally comes to and launches into an epic celebration. Even in the pre-concussion protocol era, someone still should’ve been like “maybe jumping into the crowd after getting knocked out isn’t wise.” But I digress.

Ya know?

The classic MNF booth of Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, and Dan Dierdorf are calling the game and Michaels states, “He’s gonna get a penalty but who cares?” This was during the dark period in the NFL where players weren’t allowed to celebrate a TD. How did we let that go on for so long?

The TD and extra point would only put them up by three. The Cowboys with Aikman, Smith, Irvin, Novacek were more than capable of getting into FG range less time than that, but Gifford is acting like the game is over. Someone tell Cameron Crowe this is not the wishbone era, 48 seconds is a lot of time. Tack on a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff, and Tidwell’s little family feelgood moment could have cost his team the playoffs. Rod might never have gotten his big payday and who knows what would’ve happened to Jerry, Dorothy, and the kid with the huge head.

That’s it for me. I’m off to launch a second career as a sports consultant for Hollywood. Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, a huge Dierdorf fan. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About Ben Whitney 410 Articles
Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.