Player-approved movie and book recommendations to pass the time

Late March is usually the homestretch of the offseason for Canadian Football League players, what with training camps usually opening in May and the curtain lifting on a new campaign not long after the players first gather.

Yet, with the entire world being dropped by a nasty clothesline courtesy of the Coronavirus, routines and schedules have been dramatically altered.

With that in mind, we asked some Blue Bombers players this week – as well as the voice of the Bombers, Bob Irving – to offer up their Top 5 football movies and some recommended reading material, regardless of subject matter.

Here are their suggestions:


Zach Collaros, quarterback

Top 5 football movies (no particular order)

  • Remember the Titans
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Rudy
  • Any Given Sunday
  • Jerry McGuire

Honourable mentions:

  • All The Right Moves
  • Brian’s Song
  • The Waterboy
  • The Replacements

Book recommendations

“I’m always re-reading ‘The Tender Bar’ by J.R. Moehringer. I just finished ‘The Spy and the Traitor’ by Ben MacIntyre and am currently working on ‘Team of Rivals’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin.”

Adam Bighill, linebacker

Top 5 football movies

  • Any Given Sunday
  • The Program
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Remember the Titans
  • Invincible

Book recommendation:

‘Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth’ by Nick Murray.

Jermarcus Hardrick, right tackle

Top 5 football movies

  • Any Given Sunday
  • The Program
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Remember the Titans
  • Invincible

Book recommendation:

‘Unfu*k Yourself’ by Gary John Bishop

Andrew Harris, running back

Top 5 football movies (in no particular order)

  • Any Given Sunday
  • The Waterboy
  • The Replacements
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Little Giants

Drew Wolitarsky, receiver

Top 5 football movies

  • Remember the Titans
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Varsity Blues
  • Radio
  • The Longest Yard

Book recommendation:

“‘Big Sur’ and ‘The Dharma Bums’, both by Jack Kerouac. Kerouac and I must share a soul because he is the wisest, most tragic man I’ve ever had insight to. I’m now reading ‘To Shake the Sleeping Self’ by Jedidiah Jenkins and also some DC comics for leisure.”

Pat Neufeld, right guard

Top 5 football movies

  • Friday Night Lights
  • Remember the Titans
  • The Waterboy
  • Any Given Sunday
  • Varsity Blues

Book recommendation:

‘Kitchen Confidential’ by Anthony Bourdain. I’m a big fan of his in general, so I figure I’d start with his first book.

Willie Jefferson, defensive end

Top 5 football movies:

  • Any Given Sunday
  • The Replacements
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Remember the Titans
  • Jerry McGuire

Book recommendations:

‘Sweet Jones: Pimp C’s Trill Life Story’ by Julia Beverly; ‘Full-Time CEO’ by Will Roundtree.

Jake Thomas, defensive tackle

Top 5 football movies:

  • The Program
  • Any Given Sunday
  • The Replacements
  • The Waterboy
  • Friday Night Lights/Remember the Titans

Honourable mention: Little Giants

Book recommendation:

‘Tuesday’s With Morrie’ by Mitch Albom; Football book: ‘War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team’ by Michael Holley.

“Even though I am a Bills fan, cool to see the groundwork and fundamentals of the start of the Patriots  dynasty.”

Stanley Bryant, left tackle

Top 5 football movies:

  • Necessary Roughness
  • Remember the Titans
  • Any Given Sunday
  • Jerry McGuire
  • The Replacements

Honourable mention: Varsity Blues

Book recommendation: ‘Lebron, Inc: The Making of a Billion-Dollar Athlete’ by Brian Windhorst.

Thomas Miles, linebacker

Note: we asked Miles for his Top 5 football movies list and he said, “I know this borders on blasphemy, but I don’t actually like football movies.” A voracious reader, we asked him instead for his top book recommendations.

  1. ‘The Beautiful Bailout: How a Social Innovation Scale-up Will Solve Government’s Priciest Problems’ by Shaun Loney
  2. ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ by Garth Stein
  3. ‘The Last Kingdom’ by Bernard Cornwell (#1 in the Saxon Stories/Last Kingdom series)
  4. ‘Crow Lake’ by Mary Lawson
  5. ‘Seven Fallen Feathers’ by Tanya Talaga
  6. ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by Stieg Larsson
  7. ‘Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone’ by Richard Lloyd Parry
  8. ‘The Black Echo’ by Michael Connelly
  9. ‘Lullabies for Little Criminals’ by Heather O’Neill
  10. ‘The Guns of Navarone’ by Alistair Maclean

Bob Irving, play-by-play voice

Top 5 football movies:

  • Brian’s Song
  • Jerry Maguire
  • Concussion
  • Draft Day (I’m a Kevin Costner fan)
  • Rudy

Book recommendation:

“Two of the best sports books I have read were ‘The Last Season: A Team in Search of its Soul’ by Phil Jackson and Michael Arkush ‘It’s Not About the Bike’ by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins. It’s a great story about his incredible recovery from cancer, and when I read it, it was super inspiring (Of course, today, you would have a different view of anything Lance Armstrong did that was inspiring).”

Ed Tait, bluebombers.com

Top 5 football movies

  • Remember The Titans
  • Any Given Sunday
  • The Express
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Rudy

Book recommendation:

Currently reading: ‘Unfaithful Music’ by Elvis Costello and ‘Sports Makes You Type Faster’ by Dan Jenkins.

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