Maybe it's because I'm a guy, and maybe it's because I like sports, but the three most emotion-packed movie scenes -- for me -- are all from football-related films.
To this day, I still get goose bumps -- and at times, even some tears -- whenever I see a replay or a clip from specific scenes from "Remember the Titans," "We Are Marshall" and "Brian's Song." And since we're in the middle of football season, I know I am destined to come across one or all of these again in the coming weeks.
"Remember the Titans" was a 2000 film based on a true story about African-American high school football coach Herman Boone being put in charge of a racially divided team in Alexandria, Va., during the volatile early 1970s.
There were several moments in the film showing how this unexpected cast of heroes brought a racially divided city together. In one of the scenes, an assistant coach played by Will Patton is standing face to face with members of the defensive unit. Patton's eyes -- and voice -- are on fire when his passion is accompanied with the following line and directed toward both black and white members of this memorable team:
"You make sure they remember -- FOREVER, the night they played the Titans!"
I can guarantee I have never forgotten the Titans.
Another true account, "We Are Marshall," told the story of the 1970 plane crash that killed 37 football players on the Marshall University football team, plus five coaches, two athletic trainers, the athletic director, 25 boosters and a crew of five. It also addresses the resurrection of the program and the healing that took place on the Marshall campus and the community of Huntington, W.Va.
Matthew McConaughey starred as the coach (Jack Lengyel) hired to rebuild a program -- and comfort a community. Before the new Marshall team took the field for the first time after the tragedy, McConaughey's character told his players in an incredibly gripping scene:
"From the soles of your feet, with every ounce of blood you've got in your body, lay it on the line ... and if you do that, we cannot lose. We may be behind on the scoreboard at the end of the game, but if you play like that, we cannot be defeated. ... How you play today, from this moment on, is how you will be remembered. This is your opportunity to rise from these ashes and grab glory. We are ..."
And the players respond, in unison: "Marshall!"
My wife, Kathy, went to the theater with me back in 2006 to see "We Are Marshall," and even she, the most nonfootball fan in Adams County, admitted she was moved by the film.
"Brian's Song" was a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week that was so highly acclaimed it was later shown in theaters. It is regarded to this day by most film critics as the finest-ever movie made for television.
The movie told the story of former Wake Forest running back Brian Piccolo (played by James Caan) through the eyes of Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers (memorably portrayed by Billy Dee Williams).
Piccolo was stricken with terminal cancer after being drafted by the Bears. Piccolo and Sayers became close friends who fought the impossible battle together. Sayers remembered his best friend with a haunting soliloquy at an awards ceremony.
If you remember the movie and this scene, I'm sure you find it impossible not to wipe a tear from your eye by the time you reach its conclusion.
"I'd like to tell you about a guy I know, a friend of mine. His name is Brian Piccolo. And he has the heart of a giant, and that rare form of courage that allows him to kid himself and his opponent, cancer.
"He has a mental attitude that makes me proud to have a friend who spells out the word ‘courage' 24 hours a day, every day of his life. Now you honor me by giving me this award. But I say to you ... Brian Piccolo is the man who deserves the George S. Halas Award. It is mine tonight … and Brian Piccolo's tomorrow. I love Brian Piccolo. And I'd like all of you to love him, too.
"And so tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him."
Piccolo, at age 26, died shortly after Sayers' emotional speech.