Netflix Watch: ‘North Dallas Forty’

Replacement ref fatigue have you down? Or maybe you fall into one of two camps: those who can’t get enough football and those who wish it would just go away. Either way, you should check out ‘North Dallas Forty’, one of the best football movies ever made. It’s available for streaming on both Netflix and Amazon Prime.

“Every time I call it a game, you call it a business. Every time I call it a business, you call it a game.”

At least for my generation, ‘North Dallas Forty’ has fallen through the cracks, along with some of the real-life people imitated in the film, such as Tom Landry and Don Meredith. Yet not only is it both a good football movie (already a rarity) and a compelling story for those mystified by sports, but the film also explores many of the hot button issues that the League deals with today.

Much has been made recently of the League’s oversight of players’ personal conduct and off-the-field issues. Likewise, both long-term and short-term health concerns pepper NFL headlines (even if “enhancement” drugs are more of a concern for other sports). This decades-old set of insights into the League was controversial in its day, and many participants were seemingly blackballed from NFL involvement after the film’s release.

Then we have the coach-induced blood lust, complete with fights during practice and intentionally injuring opposing players during games. Did I mention the overtly Christian back-up quarterback?

So much of the movie rings true even if it seems indulgent on the part of Gary Trent. This article from ESPN’s old Page 2 can help to distinguish fact from embellishment.

Let me issue a fair warning for the uninitiated. The narrative of the movie is a bit hazy at times, especially during the first act. Furthermore, the only real trailer that I could find is awful on several levels, so feel free to skip to the Paramount approved single-scene preview. Again, football fans and those interested in American culture should be familiar with this film, which the NFL would prefer was forgotten.

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