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Film / Any Given Sunday

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You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football...On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch, because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the fuckin’ difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying!
Coach Tony D'Amato

Any Given Sunday is a 1999 American sports drama film starring Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, LL Cool J, and Jamie Foxx. It was directed and co-written by Oliver Stone.

The Miami Sharks, an ailing professional American Football franchise, suddenly lose their first- and second-string quarterbacks to injury, and third stringer Willie Beamen (Foxx) gets a shot at glory when he becomes the team's starter for the remainder of the regular season. Beamen becomes a flashpoint between the organization's old guard and new; long-time coach Tony D'Amato (Pacino), who prefers his injured veteran Cap Rooney (Quaid), and young, ambitious owner Christina Pagniacci (Diaz), who sees Beaman as the future of the team. Along the way, the movie takes a long, unflinching look at the various aspects of pro football: clashing egos, front-office meddling, playing hurt, sacrifice, and getting old, as the Sharks try to co-exist and rally behind Beamen in the last weeks of a playoff chase.

This film provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: While it was known all throughout the movie that this season would likely be his last, it seemed to end with D'Amato announcing his retirement. But he instead signed with an expansion team as coach and GM,and also signed Beamen to his team.
  • Achilles' Heel: Cap's back injury and Shark's improperly healed neck. Subverted in the case of Willie's shoulder. It's hinted throughout the film that his arm could soon give out, but it never does at any point on screen, and he doesn't tell D'Amato about it before he's named the starting QB at his new team.
  • Achilles in His Tent: At some point, Beamen gets selfish and isolates himself from all other players, and even D'Amato, believing they're all against him. Then he gets better and He's Back! in the team. Gets a literal metaphor as Beamen is sulking alone in the team's sauna until veteran Shark Lavay enters, and despite their clashing all season, levels with Willie that he's in danger of washing out like so many players Beamen's never heard of.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Willie is a third-string quarterback who becomes increasingly arrogant when injuries push him into a starting position and he does better than anyone expected. He goes so far to say that their victories are entirely because of him.
  • A Father to His Men: D'Amato. Even when ripped by the press and his owner for being out of touch with the current game, his players (sans newcomer Willie Beamen) are unfailingly loyal to him as he is to them, often looking out for their welfare and health and protecting them from any attacks on their ability or heart. Even when clashing with Beamen, he gives him sound advice about how to gain the team's trust and truly become their quarterback, which eventually does sink in with Willie.
  • Artistic License – Sports: While the most unrealistic personnel move (D'Amato signing Beamen for his new team in Albuquerque without anyone in Miami or in the media knowing until D'Amato announces it) can be handwaved as a different league than the NFL having different rules, there still are a few examples on the field.
    • Beamen's audibling to a nonexistent play ("80 Blackstar") would result in someone on the offense calling a timeout.
    • At halftime of the first game, offensive coordinator Crozier is giving detailed play breakdowns without the team's only healthy quarterback even in the room.
    • Christina brags she could get a first and second-round draft choice in trade for Rooney, a 39-year-old (ancient in this sport) quarterback with a bad back. Uh, no.
  • Badass Boast: Delivered frequently and early.
    Linebacker #1: Beamen! Beamen! I want you to take a good look at me, imma be the next motherfucker to knock you out!
    Linebacker #2: Best buckle up, it's gonna be a long day today!
    Same linebacker (seconds later, after smearing Beamen): Best get used to this, motherfucker, imma be picking peanuts outta your ass!
    • And :
    Shark: Coach, you're gonna have a stroke.
    Coach: I don't get strokes, motherfucker, I give 'em.
  • Based on a True Story: The corrupt team physician subplot was inspired by the 1980s L.A. Raiders.
    • So was the opening scene involving a player with IVs in both arms needing to use the
    • And Beamen's lining up underneath the guard (instead of center) was based on an incident during John Elway's rookie year.
  • Berserk Button: Shark finds out that Willie has been ripping the defense. He responds by cutting Willie's car in half!
  • Big Game: Subverted, in that they lose the actual championship... during the credits. The fact that they go the distance and make it to the championship is powerful enough. Like Rocky.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Tony is right to say that Willie has to take the role of team leader seriously and needs to learn humility and about putting the good of the team first just as Cap has done throughout his career and that he needs to respect the legacy he's now a part of. Willie is not wrong to counter that as much as Tony may not like it, he has been giving the team the victories they've desperately needed and which Cap has not been able to provide and to have a cynical view of Tony's "it's not just about winning" rhetoric, pointing out that every coach says that but all they really respect is success, as well as of the league as a whole given his past experiences, nearly losing out on being drafted over a minor rules violation for which he feels he has disproportionately punished. It's not hard to see why he feels he needs to look out for himself, first and foremost.
  • The Cameo: Several famous football personalities, such as Johnny Unitas and Terrell Owens.
  • Captain Ersatz: Averted; when the National Football League refused to let the producers use their rights, the film's league was retooled as an alternative league existing alongside the NFL, rather than as an Ersatz for the main American pro football league.
    • This actually becomes a plot point: one of the reasons Christina can't get the city of Miami to pay for a new stadium is because of the Dolphins.
  • Celebrity Paradox: When Willie enters Tony's house, 1959's Ben-Hur (starring Charlton Heston, who has a small role in this film) is playing on television.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Shark's broken neck.
    • Cap's back injury as well. Subverted with Beamen's shoulder. It looks like it's going to become one, but it's never really addressed onscreen.
  • The Chessmaster: Subverted. Christina tries this, making underhanded power plays not only within her team but with the league commissioner and the mayor of Miami. It's made clear early on how in over her head she is.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: See Badass Boast above. Also, it's an often-realistic football movie starring Tony Montana. So, you know, EVERY OTHER SCENE.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: Comes from a well-known saying coined by former NFL commissioner Bert Bell:
    "On any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team."
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: All of the members of the Sharks' coaching staff are this to some degree, but Christina absolutely personifies the trope.
  • Creator Cameo: Oliver Stone as a TV announcer.
  • Dented Iron: The subplots of the team's leading veterans, "Cap" Rooney and "Shark" Lavay. Both players are the heart and soul of the offense and defense, respectively, but their accumulated injuries are to the point that their seasons are not only in jeopardy, but their long-term health. Cap starts to feel like he might ready to pack it up and look to the future beyond football, but Shark is adamant about playing, both for a contract bonus and that "football is all I know how to do." It comes to a head when Christina and Dr. Mandrake haggle over their medical clearance in order for Christina to get her way with her roster over the head of Coach D'Amato.
  • Disney Death: Shark
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dr. Mandrake hardly has a moral compass as he sees his job solely about making the players fit as possible by Sunday, but even he shows concern to Christina about Shark Lavay's long-term health prospects with his injuries accumulating and is hesitant to clear him until Christina promises to pay him back come contract time.
    Dr. Mandrake: There's no way to predict what another head hit will do to this guy. But I don't think anything's going to happen to him, but I'm not a complete prick, I do have some kind of conscience, you know?
  • Expy: John C. McGinley's Jack Rose is one for outspoken sports talk host Jim Rome; D'Amato slugging him harkens back to former NFL quarterback Jim Everett shoving Rome after the host insultingly referred to him as female tennis player Chris Evert.
  • Eye Scream: One of the Knights' players gets his eyeball ripped out.
  • Feeling Their Age: Cap's arc revolves around this as he is 38 years old in a game that is extremely tough on men half his age. For all his achievements and the respect and adoration he's earned, he is very aware of this and knows the longer he keeps playing, the greater the chance of being permanently injured or even dying.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Willie reveals that due to taking a rented suit from a college booster for a wedding, he was suspended for violating college rules for handouts, slid to the seventh round in a draft where he was originally projected to sign for a million-dollar signing bonus, and was labeled as a "troublemaker" coming into the league.
  • From Bad to Worse: At the start, the Sharks have lost three games in a row and are down in a fourth... and then they lose their first and second string QBs on consecutive plays.
  • Ice Queen: Owner Christina Pagniacci.
    Commissioner: I honestly believe that woman would eat her young.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Willie can be a real jerk who has clearly let his success go to his head but he's not wrong in some of his criticisms of Tony and the league as a whole or to point out the hypocrisy of coaches who preach about more important things than winning but only respect real victories and a league where players are expected to sacrifice for the greater good of teams whose leaders have no hesitation about dismissing them or trading them the second they become inconvenient or a better player shows up.
  • Henpecked Husband: Cap Rooney; his wife simply won't allow him to quit despite the pain he's frequently in at his age.
  • Money, Dear Boy: In-universe: While the players and coaches all have a genuine love for the game, they make it no secret that they're primarily concerned about their next contract.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The movie was released 1999 but took place during the latter half of the 2001 AFFA season.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jack Rose is a thinly (read: not even remotely) disguised caricature of Jim Rome, right down to his abrasive comments resulting in him being assaulted on camera. In addition, Tony D'Amato is based on former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, and Christina Pagniacci is a combination of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Rams owner Georgia Frontiere.
  • Oh, Crap!: Written all over Al Pacino's face several times on the sidelines.
  • Rousing Speech: One of the most famous in film over the last two decades.
  • Shown Their Work: While the AFFA and featured teams in the film are fictional, the movie accurately captures a lot of aspects of real life professional football.
    • Beamen's draft stock dropping because he took a gift from a booster is very much Truth in Television: college players can and have seen their draft stock plummet for relativly minor infractions.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Christina thinks of herself as a tough, no-nonsense owner of a football team. However, as the film goes on, she realizes how much she isn't respected and is really a laughing stock. While some of this is predictably based on sexism, there are also genuine reasons people don't take her seriously, reasons people close to her try to point out, but she doesn't listen.
    • Willie quickly gets one when he wins the starting job and is hailed as one of the best QB's in the league. This quickly gets undone as he becomes alienated from the team.
  • So Last Season: D'Amato takes a lot of heat from both his owner and his offensive coordinator over his antiquated and predictable running-based offense.
    • Cap also becomes this once Beaman takes over the starting job.
  • Spanner in the Works: Willie Beaman's shoulder injury that he's been dealing with long before joining the Sharks. It gets worse during the film and in the ending segment, he has a chance to tell D'Amato this after learning he's going to be made a franchise quarterback for his expansion team, but he doesn't.
  • Stress Vomit / Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When forced into his first game after two more experienced quarterbacks are injured, Beamen promptly throws up in the middle of the huddle. In later games, he's shown throwing up on the sidelines before taking his first snap.
  • Wanted a Son Instead: Christina's father's greatest wish was for a son, and her mother says that his reaction to not getting one is part of what made Christina prone to moments of ambition and bitterness.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Possibly the best possible interpretation of Dr. Mandrake. He lies to the players about their injuries (and this ultimately gets him fired when Tony finds out). He justifies his actions by saying that if he told the truth their their careers would be over and he not only wants to give the team the best chance to win, but he doesn't want to be responsible for telling the players that they have to give up on their dream, especially when he's convinced (not without merit) that most of them would want to play through their injuries anyway.
    • While he does cover up Shark's injury (namely the fact that he could die if he takes another hard hit), he does feel guilty about putting him at risk. But he again justifies this by saying Shark has 4 kids to feed, and he doesn't want to end his career.