In 1971 in Alexandria, Virginia, at the desegregated T. C. Williams High School, African American head coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) is hired to lead the school's football team. Coach Boone takes the coaching position from current head coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton), who has been nominated for the Virginia High School Hall of Fame, and who also later decides to move on to other coaching opportunities. In a show of respect and in an attempt to ease racial tension, Boone offers an assistant coaching position to Yoast. Yoast at first refuses Boone's offer, but is then tempted to join after the white players pledge to boycott the team if he doesn't participate. Dismayed at the prospect of the students losing their chances at scholarships, Yoast changes his mind and takes up the position of defensive coordinator. The black and white athletes of the football team frequently clash in racially motivated conflicts at their football camp, including those between captain Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst) and Julius Campbell (Wood Harris). However, after forceful coaxing and rigorous athletic training by Boone, the team achieves both racial harmony and triumph. After returning from football camp, Boone is told by a member of the school board that if he loses even a single game, he will be fired. Subsequently, the Titans go through the season undefeated while battling racial prejudice, before slowly gaining support from the community.
Just before the state semi-finals, Yoast is told by a member of the school board that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame after the Titans lose their game, implying that the game has been fixed to ensure Boone gets fired over his race. During the game, when it becomes apparent that the referees are engaging in biased officiating against the Titans, Yoast warns the head official that he will go to the press and expose the scandal unless the game is called fairly. The referee's yield and the Titans ultimately win the game, but Yoast is told afterward that his actions have resulted in his loss of candidacy for the Hall of Fame.
Later, while celebrating after the victorious game, Bertier is paralyzed in a car accident, when he is hit by a truck while accelerating into an intersection. Despite the fact that Bertier is no longer able to play, the team goes on to win the championship. Ten years later, the coaches and athletes from the team reunite to attend Bertier's funeral, as Sheryl reiterates the message of racial equality taught by the Titans.
- Denzel Washington as Coach Herman Boone
- Will Patton as Coach Bill Yoast
- Wood Harris as DE Julius Campbell
- Ryan Hurst as LB Gerry Bertier
- Donald Faison as RB Petey Jones
- Ethan Suplee as OL Louie Lastik
- Kip Pardue as QB Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass
- Craig Kirkwood as QB Jerry "Rev" Harris
- Hayden Panettiere as Sheryl Yoast; Bill Yoast's daughter
- Nicole Ari Parker as Carole Boone; Herman Boone's wife
- Kate Bosworth as Emma Hoyt
- Earl C. Poitier as OL Blue Stanton
- Ryan Gosling as DB Alan Bosley
- Gregory Alan Williams as Coach Paul "Doc" Hines
- Burgess Jenkins as TE Ray Budds
Trevor Rabin composed the instrumental score, of which "Titans Spirit" was the only cue (of 12 composed) added to the soundtrack. It is also the only piece of music on the soundtrack album not to have been previously released.
"Titans Spirit" was a rousing seven-minute exploration of the movie's energetic themes that projected from Denzel Washington as he spoke during filming. It has been used on many sports telecasts, particularly those on NBC, which has the score during its closing credits for the Salt Lake 2002, Athens 2004, Torino 2006, Beijing 2008 and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games as well as with the final closing credits montage for their 12-year run with the NBA in 2002. The song was also played as veteran New York Mets players crossed home plate during the closing ceremonies at Shea Stadium.
It was also used during the 2008 Democratic National Convention to accompany the celebration and fireworks at Invesco Field after future president Barack Obama gave his nomination acceptance speech, and also at Chicago's Grant Park immediately following Obama's victory speech upon winning the 2008 Presidential Election.
- This is the first film that Jerry Bruckheimer produces for Disney. Bruckheimer started to work exclusively with Disney following the release of Bad Boys II, 6 months later, during the early 21st century.