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Sunday, August 25, 2002
Updated: August 26, 11:51 AM ET
Page 2's Top 20 Sports Movies of All-Time


OUR COUNTDOWN: 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

No. 18: Brian's Song (67 points)

Year released: 1971 (TV).

Cast: James Caan, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Warden.

What we like: This is sports' version of the "buddy picture;" the fact that it features one buddy who happens to be black and one who happens to be white -- and long before Mel Gibson and Danny Glover came along -- makes it all the more compelling; watching Caan's Brian Picolo overcome his prejudices to form a real bond with Williams' Gale Sayers offered a valuable social commentary, especially for 1971; the audience gets emotionally involved in these characters, rooting for Sayers to overcome his knee injury and then feeling the overwhelming sorrow at watching Picolo's plight.

What we're willing to overlook: This movie leaves us crying like a bunch of blubbering fools every time we watch it; parts of the production feels like a "made-for-TV" film, even if the acting doesn't.


It captures the ideal interracial relationship, even in a competitive situation, so rarely achieved, illustrated between Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. Plus you get real footage of Sayers, possibly the genius of all backs. -- Page 2 columnist Ralph Wiley

Caan and Billy Dee are understated enough to make the friendship and the sadness seem very real. -- Page 2 columnist Eric Neel

Click here to go on to our No. 17 sports movie of all-time