There appears to be an unwritten rule in Hollywood that if you are a movie star, then you must act in at least one sports film at some point in your career.
This may be due to career envy (as with film stars and musicians), but it is equally likely that it is because the genre is also often hugely character/actor driven and marketable. Of all of the sports available, American Football seems to be the most popular choice, as Al Pacino, James Caan, Tony Curtis, Charlton Heston, Denzel Washington, George Clooney, John Wayne, James Stewart and Ronald Reagan, are only a few of the Hollywood elite to embrace the dramatic aspects surrounding the sport.
Tom Cruise’s first flirtation with the American Football genre predates Jerry Maguire by over a decade. Cruise’s sixth film, All the Right Moves (1983), gave him his first lead role, and it is about a High School football star trying to play his way out of his dreary hometown destiny. This film seems to exorcise any envy Cruise may have had as a young aspiring sportsman, as in All the Right Moves American Football represents more than the sport itself: it signifies the kind of escape and self-improvement that his own acting career mirrored up to this point.
In Jerry Maguire, by contrast, characters from the professional side of the sport represent a moral hollowing out of the sport and themselves…
The full 750 word version of this review is published in Directory of World Cinema: American Hollywood 2, edited by Lincoln Geraghty, published by Intellect Books, 2015.