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Looking back fondly on 'Necessary Roughness'

I saw Scott Bakula in a supermarket once. He was in the wine and spirits aisle, his reading glasses dangling from a fabric necklace as he looked over his options. I remember finding that funny for some reason.

Some people might have geeked out to be in the same aisle as Dr. Sam Beckett from "Quantum Leap." This probably includes my Aunt Shelia.

Scott Bakula as quarterback Paul Blake in
Scott Bakula as quarterback Paul Blake in "Necessary Roughness" (1991). (Paramount Pictures/)

And while I respect the Emmy-nominated good doctor and his proclivity for time travel, that's not what kept me in the aisle of that Gelson's in Hollywood.

It was "Necessary Roughness."

If you were born between 1976 and 1983, there's no way you haven't seen "Necessary Roughness" a minimum of 5,000 times. Before "The Sopranos," "Sex In The City" and "Game Of Thrones" classed up the joint, there was a time when HBO would go an entire summer playing "Just One Of The Guys," "Necessary Roughness" and "Taxicab Confessions" on a continuous loop. HBO statisticians will deny this, but they are lying. That's what they do.

This was before the Internet really took hold, and cable TV was far more important to a teenager of the '90s such as myself. Sure, my buddies and I could have gone outside and, I don't know, shot baskets or something, but why go anywhere when Kathy Ireland was about to stun Sinbad and the rest of the Texas State Armadillos with her David Akers-like field-goal accuracy?

Ireland -- at her zenith, by the way -- was great, but "Necessary Roughness" owed its heart to Bakula's Paul Blake. As "Football In Movies" expert Adam Rank reminded me this week, Blake was a top college recruit before he was done in by the old "My dad got sick and somebody needs to tend to the farm" conundrum. (Ed. note: The worst!) Years later, Blake enrolls at Texas State and, at 34, becomes the starting QB for the low-rent Armadillos.

(There are some pretty heavy Brandon Weeden parallels in here somewhere ...)

Anyway, Blake earns the respect of his coach and teammates, topples the mighty state rival with a trick play and gets the girl. Doesn't sound like "Citizen Kane?" Well, it's not -- it's a punishingly derivative rip-off of "Major League," right down to its VHS cover.

Rank: Best movie QBs ever
See where Scott Bakula's Paul Blake comes in at in Adam Rank's list of best movie QBs ever. More ...

But who cares? I certainly didn't, as all those repeat viewings clearly proved.

Which leads us back to the supermarket. I wanted to go up to Bakula and tell him how I grew up on "Necessary Roughness," tell him how it was a legitimately fun football movie in an era where they were few and far between (unless you count the compound leg fracture scene in "The Program" as a real gut-buster).

Just as I was getting up the courage, he settled on a 12-pack of Corona, turned in the opposite direction and -- poof -- was gone. Scott Bakula Quantum Leap'd me in real life.

So if you're reading this Mr. Bakula, a sincere thank you for giving "Necessary Roughness" the emotional heft that Rob Schneider alone wouldn't have managed. Your football movie made my formative years 2 percent more tolerable.

Dan Hanzus previously discussed what it takes to make a great football movie. Follow him on Twitter @danhanzus.

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