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Tis the season for sports movies

By Brian Howard

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With the holiday seasons in full bloom, I decided to forgo the annual movies that normally run from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Instead, I went through my DVDs and VHS movies and ran into 18 sports movies. I figured I would complete the list by adding a pair that I wish I owned.

Here is the list of movies (in the order I rank them) that I own: Miracle, Hoosiers, Friday Night Lights, Rudy, Field of Dreams, Caddyshack, Remember the Titans, Bull Durham, Jerry McGuire, Radio, Ali, The Replacements, Tin Cup, Fever Pitch, Varsity Blues, Summer Catch, For Love of the Game, and Any Given Sunday.

Lastly, here is two movies (same actor) that I would love to own: Rocky II and Brian's Song (the original).

Now, as you are taking a look at the lengthy list, I would say that many would argue why I put Miracle over Hoosiers, Friday Night Lights, Rudy, Field of Dreams and Caddyshack.

All are worth top mentions on the list, but it is Disney's version of Miracle that earns top honors.

Kurt Russell played a perfect Herb Brooks and the entire cast made sure this was the right movie to portray the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey team.

Sure we already know the results before the movie began, but did we know the United States played the much-hated Russians three days before the Olympics began?

Let's not forget that the final half hour of the movie is all about the United States-Russia game. When I saw it in the theatre, I had to use the bathroom bad, but couldn't remove myself from my seat.

In the end, the best line in the movie isn't, “Do you believe in miracles,” by Al Michaels. Instead, there is one line that makes the movie stand out: “When you put on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates, and the name on the front is a heck of a lot more important, than the one of the back. Get that through your head.”

That line gives me shivers each time I hear it. Although I only remember it said by Russell, playing Brooks, the imagine is there that these young group of college guys, with an average age of 21, was playing for themselves at the start of training.

What Brooks did was put together a team not so much full of talent, but of heart. In today's modern world of sports, you'd been hard-pressed to find someone that can do it and do it well.

Perhaps putting Hoosiers second is a little harsh, but it was hard not to put Miracle in that top spot. Just too many good scenes for a Disney movie.

Friday Night Lights captures what its like in Odessa, Texas. I don't think there was one person who watched this movie that didn't feel Billy Bob Thorton's halftime speech during the state championship game.

Another great moment is when Tim McGraw, who plays a drunk father reliving his glory days, walks onto the field after the state final when the team fell just a yard short of winning a title, and puts his own (McGraw) state championship ring on his sons finger. I nearly lost it.

The two that I have yet to own, Rocky II and Brian's Song, mean so much to me. Both movies were made either before my time.

Each time I see either movie, I tear up. Nothing inspires a person more than seeing Sylvester Stallone running in the streets of Philadelpia. Best line in the movie is when Rocky is at the hospital and his wife has awoken from a coma after delivering their baby son.

As Adrian and Rocky talk, she tells him to “win.” Mickey, Rocky's trainer and played by Burgess Meredith utters, “What are we waiting for.”

Brian's Song is also so special. I, according to my parents, got my name from that movie. But it means even more. Unlike the remake a few years ago that didn't do justice, James Caan played a perfect role of Brian Piccolo.

Piccolo becomes roommates with teammate Gale Sayers, played by Billy Dee Williams. They become friends and both deal with the harsh reality of Piccolo's cancer.

Maybe next year's list will change, but until now, “Do you believe in Miracles?”

(Brian Howard is a sports writer at The Daily. He can be reached at: bhoward@news-daiy.com )