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5 movies to help Raiders fans get through the bye week

Updated October 16, 2020 - 10:28 am

The bye week.

It’s something many NFL fans struggle with like they’re Jon Gruden with his mask on the sidelines: They just can’t quite figure out what to do with it.

The season’s underway, then for that one, dreaded week, your team isn’t playing.

To help Raiders fans through this bye week, here are some movies about professional football — no “Rudy,” no “Friday Night Lights,” not even “The Waterboy” — to help pass the time:

‘Straight Outta L.A.’ (2010)

Director Ice Cube sits down with Al Davis and Snoop Dogg — although, sadly, not all at once — for this documentary look at the Raiders, their move to Los Angeles in 1982 and the confluence of their popularity with the rise of gangsta rap. Among the other football and music notables featured in this installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series are John Madden, Marcus Allen, Howie Long, Ice-T, Chuck D and Russell Simmons.

‘North Dallas Forty’ (1979)

There’s very little actual football in this acclaimed comedy that highlights the darker side of the game, from painkillers and injections to the disposable nature of the players. But that didn’t stop the production team from enlisting Raiders legend Fred Biletnikoff to help its star, Nick Nolte, work on his receiving chops. And that’s John Matuszak, who was still an active Raider, delivering the impassioned “Every time I call it a game, you call it a business” rant to his assistant coach. Even if you’re too young to remember Matuszak’s playing days, he’s easy to spot: He’s the only member of the North Dallas Bulls who doesn’t look like he’s at least 47 years old.

‘Any Given Sunday’ (1999)

Think of this Oliver Stone movie as the grittier, more football-centric follow-up to “North Dallas Forty.” The drama is a hybrid of several scripts and ideas. One of them focuses on the relationship between a young quarterback (Jamie Foxx) and his old-school coach (Al Pacino), while the other looks at some of the medical malpractice committed by the team’s doctor (James Woods) at the behest of its owner (Cameron Diaz). The latter storyline was based on the memoir “You’re Okay, It’s Just a Bruise: A Doctor’s Sideline Secrets About Pro Football’s Most Outrageous Team” written by former Raiders team physician Robert Huizenga.

‘Brian’s Song’ (1971)

Not only is it one of the finest made-for-TV movies, it’s one of the greatest sports movies, period. The story of the friendship that emerged between Chicago Bears teammates Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) gave a generation of men permission to cry, probably for the first time in their lives.

‘The Last Boy Scout’ (1991)

A down-and-out private investigator (Bruce Willis) partners with a former L.A. Stallions quarterback (Marlon Wayans) to avenge the death of his stripper girlfriend (Halle Berry) and take down the team’s corrupt owner because … well, that’s just how action movies played out back then. The testosterone-heavy script, from “Lethal Weapon” writer Shane Black, fetched a then-record $1.75 million. Be sure to keep a lookout for cameos from Strip headliners Bill Medley and Eddie Griffin.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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