Football is many people’s favorite pastime because there is nothing better than the adrenaline of watching a game and the joy of seeing your team win. But if you’re like us, you like to also see the behind-the-scenes parts of the sport. And TV shows are a great way to experience that.
So here, in no particular order, are seven football TV series that will let you both get the feel for what happens behind the scenes of your favorite sport. As well as let you continue to enjoy the sport even when there isn’t a game on.
Playmakers, ESPN (2003)
Probably one of the most controversial football drama TV series on this list is Playmakers. Although this ESPN series only ran for eleven episodes, it was adored by fans. And praised by critics as being real, sometimes painfully so. Because it followed a team of professional football players, as they counteract the demands of being pro athletes with drugs, women, and violence.
Despite being ESPN’s highest-rated series at the time, it still got canceled by the cabler. Many citing NFL’s close relationship with the network and their dislike for the show as the reason why Playmakers didn’t go past its initial 11-episode run. But be as it may, if you love football, then Playmakers is definitely among the best American football TV series to watch. It’s gritty, it’s rough, but at the core of it all is football. So if you are looking for an NFL football TV show, then the first and only season of this one is a very good and bingeable option.
Where to watch Playmakers:
Coach, ABC (1989 – 1997)
For a more comedic take on the whole football TV series genre, we have the iconic Coach. This sitcom follows Hayden Fox, a college football coach who’s trying to balance his love for all things football with his personal life – his relationship with his girlfriend-turned-wife Christine and estranged daughter Kelly.
Although in its core Coach, a TV show that was watched by millions during its 9-season run at the end of last century, is a comedy series, during the show’s half-hour episodes it still managed to explore many important topics that are still relevant today. Like parenthood, adoption, and self-confidence. So if you are looking for a football comedy TV show with a heart and a bigger underlying message then give Coach a shot.
Where to watch Coach:
Ballers, HBO (2015 – 2019)
The next show on this list is less about football itself and more about the glitz and glamour of being a famous football player. But if you’re okay with that. And are reading this best football TV shows list to find a series that shows what it’s like to be an NFL player then HBO football show Ballers is the program for you. Because it fallows Spencer Strasmore, played by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, an ex-football star turned financial manager for NFL’s best and brightest.
With 4 seasons under its belt and the fifth one coming next year Ballers shows no signs of stopping. And why would it because this HBO football series is entertaining, interesting, and, most of all, fun. So if you want to get a sneak peek into the flashy parts of professional football then check out Ballers.
Where to watch Ballers:
Friday Night Lights, NBC/The 101 Network (2006 – 2011)
Those who are fans of football TV series or teen dramas, in general, will probably have heard about this one – Friday Night Lights. And for good reason! It’s a fantastic show about friendships, hardships, family and, above all, football. Friday Night Lights follows Dillon Panthers, a Texas high school football team, and its coaching staff.
From the coach and his family to the players and their personal lives, the five Friday Night Lights seasons managed to perfectly depict the ups and downs of being a part of such a tight-knit, football-focused community. So if you want to get a glimpse at that. Or learn what it would be like to grow up and live in a small Texas town where life starts and ends with football, then definitely give Friday Night Lights a watch.
Where to watch Friday Night Lights:
All American, The CW (2018 – present)
A newer football TV series that’s in its fourth season right now is All American. This American football series might not be about the NFL, rather it concentrates on high school football. But it is still a worthy entry for this list of the best football shows.
Inspired by the life of professional football player Spencer Paysinger, All American zeroes in on Spencer James, an up-and-coming high school football star, who is recruited by LA’s Beverly Hills High School football coach to come play for them. Which means that he has to leave his South Los Angeles home and adjust to the more upscale Beverly Hills lifestyle.
Where to watch All American:
The Game, The CW/BET/Paramount+ (2006 – 2009; 2011 – 2015; 2021 – present)
Another football drama that definitely deserves to be on this list is The Game.
In 2006, The CW premiered The Game, a spin-off of UPN’s popular sitcom Girlfriends. After three seasons, The CW canceled the show, only for it to be revived by Viacom’s BET Networks. It aired for six seasons on BET.
Now, the baton has been hand on to Paramount+, and the first season of The Game revival series premiered on the streamer in 2021.
The original The CW and BET series centered on Melanie Barnett, a first-year medical student who decided to follow her boyfriend Derwin Davis to San Diego, where he’s in his first year of playing for the fictional San Diego Sabers team. And during the series we see Melanie learning to balance her medical studies with being the girlfriend of a professional football player.
While the new Paramount+ show is set in Las Vegas and follows the Las Vegas Fury football team players and their families.
The show also brings back several characters from the OG series such as Malik Wright, who was the Sabers’ starting quarterback, as well as his mother Tasha Mack. As well as introduces several new characters.
Where to watch The Game:
Blue Mountain State, Spike (2010 – 2011)
For a less serious take on college football look no further than Blue Mountain State, since this sitcom is the epitome of a college party movie made in a TV show format with football serving as the link between the series main characters. Blue Mountain State follows the three newest members of the Mountain Goats, Blue Mountain State University’s football team. Who experience college life for the first time. Meaning partying, drinking, sex, hazing, and, of course, football.
So if this comedy football series sounds like your cup of tea, make sure you check it out. Because although the show went on for only three seasons, ever since concluding in 2011, Blue Mountain State has developed a cult following. And is adored by fans all over the world for being the funny, crazy series that it is.
Where to watch Blue Mountain State:
Necessary Roughness, USA Network (2011 – 2013)
Although football players are the ones you see out in the field during games, often what makes them great is the unsung heroes working behind the scenes – the coaches, assistants, doctors, therapists, you name it. And Necessary Roughness tells the story of one such therapist.
Dr. Dani Santino is a psychotherapist who has to find a job to make ends meet after getting divorced from her cheating husband. But, as luck would have it, she becomes the therapist for a professional football team, the New York Hawks. And, having helped the team’s star player T.K. King through crisis, she quickly becomes one of the most sought-after therapists for athletes and other star clientele.
Where to watch Necessary Roughness:
Last Chance U, Netflix (2016 – 2020)
And finally, I will conclude this list of the best football TV series with Last Chance U. Each season this documentary series explores a community college football program and the lives of its members. From the struggles in the classroom to the hard work on the field and behind-the-scenes, this Netflix football series shows each and every aspect of junior college football. And what it takes to become the national football champions.
Want to get an authentic glimpse at how things are done at the junior college football level? Then this Netflix football show is definitely for you. Since it isn’t scripted, rather a documentary-style TV show that highlights the ups and downs of being a football player or coach in one of these community colleges. So if the realness of a documentary is what you are after in a football series, then take a look at Last Chance U.
P.S. Looks like a scripted series based on the first two seasons of Last Chance U is in the works at Spectrum Originals. So, soon enough, another series might be joining this list of best TV shows about football.