VALDOSTA — FORREST GUMP (1994). What!? "Forrest Gump"? A football movie? Wait. Wait. OK, "Forrest Gump" is not a football movie, but there is a football scene in it. Tom Hanks' Forrest plays for Alabama's The Crimson Tide. The Valdosta connection: Sonny Shroyer again. He plays legendary Coach "Bear" Bryant.
REMEMBER THE TITANS (2000). Another story based on real-life events. Denzel Washington plays a black football coach assigned to oversee a once-whites-only school's first racially integrated team. Coach Hermann Boone must overcome issues of race and prejudice, on and off the field, as well as creating a team that can win football games from this potentially volatile situation. Strong performances, great drama, and hard-hitting action in the game sequences. All based on a true story. A couple Valdosta connections: Denzel Washington visited Valdosta a few years ago to watch his son play a football game here. The Titans were second in the nation in 1971. That same year, the Valdosta Wildcats were first in the nation.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2004). This was a book that became a movie starring Billy Bob Thornton that became a television series all with the same title. Author H.G. Bissinger based his book on time spent with the 1988 team of Permian Panthers in Odessa, Texas. With Thornton as the coach, this movie revealed the glory and the agony of playing high school ball in a football-crazy town. The Valdosta connection: The legend goes that since Bissinger wanted to write a revealing portrait on the struggles of high school football, he approached the nation's "most winningest" high school football team: the Valdosta High Wildcats. Legendary Wildcats Coach Nick Hyder reportedly turned down the offer to have a writer dissect his team, and Bissinger went to Odessa instead. Or so the story goes.