8 Inspirational Football Locker Room Speeches

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 28, 2008 · 51 comments

in Diversions, Travel & Leisure

The college football season starts on Saturday (okay, technically Thursday. But I’m saying Saturday because that’s when Oklahoma plays. Boomer Sooner!). I love football. It’s one of the manliest sports. For it is truly the sport closest to combat. Men strategize in their war room, don their armor, and line up against their opponent. Victory is measured in territory gained, in how well one unit outmaneuvers the other. The game involves brute strength and keen physicality; it is a hand to hand, helmet to helmet fight, one man struggling against another. And yet at the same time, finesse, agility, and brilliant strategy are requisites for success and a team lives or dies solely on how well they work together as a team, as a unit.

Playing football in high school helped shape me into the man I am today. As I struggled through another practice in 100 degree heat and sweated through two-a-day practices, I learned to work hard and not quit. I learned that pain is often the only pathway to excellence. At the end of the game, when the scoreboard’s numbers were not as I had wished, I learned how to bounce back from failure and dedicate myself to being better the next time around. I experienced the awesome power of a group of men, striving together for the same goal. The friendships I made while playing football will last a lifetime.

The lessons of all sports carry over from the actual arena to the playing field of life. Rich is the man who, if only for a short time, feels the glory his body in peak condition, the bond of brothers, the sweet joy of victory and the agony of defeat. While the memories of such a time fade as a man grows older, the wisdom he gleans from the experience will echo throughout his life.

So in honor of the opening of the football season, and the great lessons all men can learn from this great game, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most inspiring football locker room speeches from both film and real life. The speeches we chose are not only inspiring for men about to hit the field, they’re motivating for those men who wish to walk out the door each day to school or work, ready to take on the world. Success in football requires heart, pride, and teamwork. Success in life requires the same.

Friday Night Lights

If you played football in high school, you can’t help but think about the young men you played next to while watching this clip. Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) explains to his players what “being perfect” really means. It’s not about the score at the end of the game. It’s about looking your teammate in the eye and being able to say you did all you could. I can’t help but get a little teary eyed when the players say the Lord’s Prayer. My team in high school did the same thing and it instantly transports me back to that locker room in Edmond, OK.

I Am a Champion

Through a series of manly affirmations, this coach pumps the hell out of his players. How can you not get psyched to take down the competition with lines like these:

“I will rip the heart out of my enemy and leave it bleeding on the ground because he cannot stop me.”

Bad. Ass.

The bagpipes in the background of this speech only up the manly vigor quotient.

Any Given Sunday


Warning: Some adult language

Life, like football, is a game of inches. Coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) captures that analogy perfectly in this speech. An inch can make the difference between victory or defeat. And if you want to succeed in football or life, you have to fight for every inch. Never take anything for granted. Always keep fighting, even when everything seems stacked against you.

Knute Rockne

We’re big fans of Knute Rockne. And how can you not be? As a player he revolutionized the game with the forward pass and as a coach he became almost unstoppable. This is an actual clip from Knute Rockne’s famous “Inside ‘em and Outside ‘em” speech. In this locker room pep talk, Knute rouses his players with his machine gun delivery and excited gestures. The speech was so popular back in the day that young men bought recordings of it by the thousands and listened to it over and over, getting pumped to charge onto the playing field of life.

Remember the Titans

Okay, so technically this isn’t a locker room speech, but it’s still inspiring. It’s 1971, and Coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) has the onerous task of bringing together a team of black and white high school students in Virginia. The team isn’t gelling. So, in a stroke of pure rhetorical genius, Coach Boone takes his men on a jog to Gettysburg. In a stirring and solemn bit of oratory, he teaches his men a little about football, and a lot about life.

Last Play

What would you do if you knew that this day would be your last day? How would you live? If you’re like me, you’d go balls out to make it the best damn day of your life. This coach revs his players up telling them to to play each play as if it was their final one on the field. We can all take a cue from this. Approach what you do in life as if it would be the last time you do it. Kiss your wife like it would be the last time. Play with your kids like it would be the last time. You never know. That kiss and playtime could be your last.

Rudy, Fortune The Facilities Manager

Sometimes we need an honest mentor to give us some perspective on ourselves. Rudy (Sean Austin) spent two years trying to get on the dress team of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. When it didn’t happen, he decides to quit. Thankfully, facilities manager Fortune (Charles S. Dutton) knocks some sense into Rudy and tells him what’s what. Quitting will only bring regret, he tells him. You gotta stay in it, even when things get tough, even when the odds are against you.

Georgia Tech Pre-Game Speech, Derrick Moore, Georgia Tech Chaplin

It’s 2007, and Georgia Tech is in South Bend to take on the Irish in their house. They definitely need to get fired up. Luckily they have this guy, Derrick Moore, to light a fire under ‘em. Moore is pure intensity. He’s the team chaplain (who knew that team’s had one?) and brings an evangelical fervor to his oratory. The best part of the speech is when he quotes the words of his middle school teacher:

“We’re going to fight until we can’t fight no more. Going to lie down and bleed awhile. Going to get up; fight some more.”

Amen, brother. That’s how you win. Tenacity.

If you enjoyed the speech, check out player Tashard Choice quoting it before a game in which GA Tech goes on to upset Clemson. It’ll get you pumped.

And now, just for the heck of it, drop the name of the college team you’ll be cheering on this season in the comments. Show your team pride!

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Peter James August 29, 2008 at 2:56 am

Wow. i am so pumped for football season!!!!

http://yinvsyang.com/

2 Huskers August 29, 2008 at 4:08 am

Do you know why it’s always windy in Nebraska?
Cause Oklahoma sucks!!!!!!

Do you know why the field in Norman is artificial turf?
To keep the cheerleaders from grazing.

Go Huskers!!!!

3 Shanel Yang August 29, 2008 at 7:00 am

Wow! I’m not a big football fan, but somehow I love football locker room speeches! They remind me of great war speeches like the ones in Henry IV that whoop up the troops before a battle. That’s great persuasive speaking! Thanks for the collection of video clips. I’m bookmarking this so I can come back to it often for inspiration! : )

4 Mike August 29, 2008 at 7:36 am

Shane: You are thinking of Henry the V I believe. I actually quoted that speech for the last locker room speech I ever gave.

This is weird for me as it is the first time in 12 years I’m not suiting up for a football season.

For the Heck of it: GO WHITE MULES!!!!!
For the Big time: Roll Tide, Roll.

5 Michael Kauffman August 29, 2008 at 7:49 am

Brilliant post! Spreading it around. Nice way to kick off the weekend.
Go PSU and Temple!

6 Michael August 29, 2008 at 7:50 am

Two words: Gig ‘em!

How can you not have mentioned “Facing the Giants”?

“It don’t have to look pretty, it don’t have to look smooth. It can look like a dying duck; just as long as it goes through the goal!”

“With God, nothing is impossible.”

Or “The Replacements”?

“I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that just wouldn’t be our style. Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory… lasts forever. Gentlemen, it’s been an honor to share the field of battle with you!”

7 Austin August 29, 2008 at 8:21 am

Wow great post.
Go Texas Tech!
Gonna take down those sooners again this year!

8 Artimus August 29, 2008 at 8:39 am

We Are PENN STATE

9 Matthew August 29, 2008 at 9:03 am

I go to knock the doors open just like Lombardi. Boom! They didn’t open. I almost broke my arm. I was like…Now I was down, the players were looking. Help the coach out, help him out. And now I did like Lombardi, I walked back and forth, and I was going like that with my arm getting the feeling back in it. Finally I said, “Gentlemen, all eyes on me.” These kids wanted to play, they’re nineteen. “Let’s go,” I said. “Gentlemen, we’ll be successful this year if you can focus on three things, and three things only: Your family, your religion, and the Green Bay Packers,” I told them.

—Jim Valvano

10 Gold&Blue August 29, 2008 at 11:46 am

Lets Go Mountaineers!

11 Christopher August 29, 2008 at 5:01 pm

ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS!!!!

Say your prayers Georgia… on September 20th it’s game time!

12 Rod Homor August 29, 2008 at 5:03 pm

It wasn’t a football locker room speech, but it sure was an inspiring speech nonetheless: Bill Murray’s speech in Stripes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCHTzumpk4Q (at the 2:40 minute mark)

:)

13 Nick August 29, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Football? Meh. Now rugby: THERE’S a sport… and they stop play less often too.

14 Mike August 29, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Correction: Georgia Tech didn’t need any help beating Notre Dame in 2007. I was there, and it was extremely painful. Go Irish.

15 Craig August 29, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Georgia Tech! Yeah. UGAy sucks.

16 MikeB August 30, 2008 at 2:21 am

WAR DAMN EAGLE!

KICK ‘EM IN THE BUTT BIG BLUE!

17 Rich Davis August 30, 2008 at 2:22 am

Go Hokies!

18 Chuck August 30, 2008 at 5:49 am

University of Oregon………….Go Ducks!………..Go Big Green!

19 Nickoli August 30, 2008 at 9:42 am

@nick: Yes, and none of the big shoulder pads, no crash helmets.

Giles (from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”): I just think it’s rather odd that a nation that prides itself on its virility should feel compelled to strap on forty pounds of protective gear just in order to play rugby.

20 MikeT August 30, 2008 at 7:26 pm

Coached my PeeWee football team to Victory today. Winning football cames is the best feeling in the world.

21 Ian Bacon August 31, 2008 at 3:56 am

my mind—as alternative to the manly virtues found on this site: how to shine shoes, how to run fast with a ball in your hand, how about finding some merit in human virtues, like using one’s mind, rather than obsessing about the physical. Human beings are the thinking animal, lets recognise those men (and women) who triumph in this human field of endeavour.

As for American football, it is a professional sport, money and merchandising dominate. Allegations of drugs, corruption, bribery and so forth are also easily found.

Lets deal with reality, not fantasy.

22 Christopher August 31, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Nice one, Brett!
I’m surprised that someone hasn’t chided you for missing some polish football locker room speech. (haha) Anyway, I’m atudying for my Masters at Notre Dame, so I’ll be cheering them on. Play like a champion!

23 Greg September 1, 2008 at 10:38 am

GO DUCKS! GOOD START TO THE SEASON!
Ducks 44
Dawgs 10

24 Sexy Animated Gifs September 1, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Very nice post :)

25 Ricky B September 2, 2008 at 7:06 am

GO CLEMSON TIGERS!!!!!

Yes, GA Tech upset us… As did Alabama this past weekend, but MY BLOOD RUNNETH ORANGE!!!

Great Post!

26 Brian September 2, 2008 at 9:42 am

Awesome post, The Last Play speech had chills running up my spine. Great Idea.

M I Z . . . Z O U ! !

27 Zach September 3, 2008 at 8:23 am

Great videos men.

GO BUFFS!

28 PO September 5, 2008 at 1:43 am

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP….Gig ‘Em Aggies! In the words of Gen. George Patton: “Give me an army of West Point grads and I’ll win a battle…give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I’ll win the war!”

29 Shepard October 26, 2008 at 9:17 pm

I’ll be rooting for OU! Too bad we lost Tashard Choice though. There were some good speeches by Barry Switzer too. I wish they had a whole sited dedicated to locker room speeches. Talk about motivation!

30 Jim Black February 16, 2009 at 8:07 am

Competitive team athletics are – at their essence – boys games. The idea as an adult or father – at least the way I was taught – was to use these ‘games’ as a microcosm of life and teach and coach young men to compete fairly, to learn discipline and to work hard as a team. The movie ‘Miracle’ was a great story for me – who are you and what team do you play for? Competitive athletics (or band or symphony or theater arts or science projects) was also to help young men understand how much work can be involved in being successful and that ‘being a good sport’ – both in losing AND winning – is far from easy but very important. Michael Lewis’ ‘Coach’ – while not a half time speech – was interesting to me in that context. I had GREAT coaches as a boy playing competitive athletics and what they tried very hard to teach us will be with me forever. My two brothers did not – being coached to cheat and lie if necessary to win. I was taught that if the ball hit the ground before you caught it, call it – yourself – as an incomplete pass. Don’t rely on an out of position Ref or Umpire to make the wrong call but in your favor. My brothers were taught the opposite. Thank you for your great work.

31 Fred Cai February 18, 2009 at 5:56 am

Go Jackets! Those Tech speeches may get me to class today, just so I can walk by the stadium.

32 Chris August 5, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Cal Berkeley Bears!

33 Fred Ritter August 7, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Go Huskers! The return to the glory years of domination of the sport is on the horizon again. A team is filled with those who will give totally of themselves for the final goal of the team. Being able to look each other in the eye and knowing you gave your all on every play.

Can’t wait ’till the start of the season.

Go Huskers!

34 Penny August 26, 2009 at 5:03 pm

GO Oregon Ducks! Fastest and flashiest team in the West.

35 KarthVader September 5, 2009 at 4:31 pm

SPARTANS! WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION?!

I will always bleed green! Go Spartans!

36 Andrew September 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Geaux Tigers!!

37 D-rek September 7, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Nice post; sure gets me pumped.

LET’S GO, BRUINS. BEAT ‘SC.

38 Taylor September 9, 2009 at 8:41 pm

I love football, and I love my Michigan State Spartans!
Go State!

39 Living with Balls September 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I always liked the speech from the end of Varsity Blues too. These are all great though.

40 Muco in Austin September 19, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Boomer Sooner!

41 Andy Huang November 6, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Hey awesome post. I think pregame speeches are an important part of the game that isn’t looked into as much as it should. I have also compiled a list of pregame speeches, and I think there is something to be learned from each one.

For the aspiring coaches:

http://thebestten.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/the-best-10-pre-game-speeches/

42 Kyle April 7, 2010 at 9:23 am

I prefer the postgame rants in the locker room, especially if I get to lick the sweat off of each players ball sacks, sniff and clean out each of their stinky poo poo holes and smell each players bare feet before I lick them clean. You should hear the hoots and hollers each time I get to do this with several teammates watching and cheering me on! GO FOOTBALL LOCKER ROOMS!!

43 Romans 52 July 11, 2010 at 3:58 am

Go Chester Romans BRITISH American Football Team!

Yep… us Limeys play it too! :-)

44 tim August 4, 2010 at 9:30 am

The speech from Varsity Blues was pretty motivating too!

45 Kurt October 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm
46 Kingston June 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Eagle stays in the air, cus Eagles soar.
Go Super Eagles!!!!!

Nigerian Super Eagle fan.

47 yo yo July 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm

GO Kolkata Knight Riders!! :D

48 Sam November 24, 2013 at 8:21 pm

those are some of the greatest speeches of all time

49 Bruce December 21, 2013 at 2:42 am

Things I learned from playing school-boy Rugby fotball.
1. You can have a great time trading bruises with other guys if the rules are fair.
2. Without rules you can have a miserable time on the receiving end of the trade .
3 The weakest player can tackle the strongest opponent successfully, with courage and a cool head
4 If your opponent is 1% better than you he will win every time. If you try 2% more than he does, you will win every time.
5 Personal victory and defeat are nothing. ‘Playing the game’ is everything.
6 When it counts, those who habitually look for ‘winning cheats’ lose. Those who look for gaps, win. Honesty is efficient.
7 How you win shows some of your character, How you lose shows it all. (that’s a quote from somewhere)

So about the same as for American Football , really.

50 Ross December 21, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Not a college football speech, but John Hufnagel’s speech prior to the 2008 Grey Cup (the Canadian Football League Championship game), was brilliant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Rbd8nSyGw

51 Jon December 23, 2013 at 8:29 am

No James Vanderbeek from Varsity Blues?

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