Bobby is a waterboy for a Louisiana college football team who becomes a star football player for a rival team after learning to channel the anger he feels from being bullied by others.
Bobby Boucher is a socially inept water boy with a stutter and hidden anger issues due to constant teasing and excessive sheltering by his mother, Helen. He became the water boy for the (fictional) University of Louisiana Cougars after being told his father died of dehydration in the Sahara while serving in the Peace Corps. However, the players always torment him and the team's head coach, Red Beaulieu, eventually fires him for "disrupting" the team's practices (in actuality, the coach had fired Bobby because he's too weak for his team to bully). Bobby then approaches Coach Klein of the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs and asks to work as the team's water boy. Coach Klein has been coach of SCLSU for years without success. We find out later in the movie that he and Beaulieu were assistant coaches at the University of Louisiana, but Beaulieu bullied Klein into letting him take sole credit for a playbook (that Klein actually came up with on his own) to earn the head coach job and then immediately fired Klein. The experience drove Klein to a mental breakdown and rendered him unable to come up with new plays. Furthermore, unlike the Cougars, the Mud Dogs are a struggling team both on and off the field. They have lost 40 consecutive games, their cheerleaders have become alcohol dependent, and players are forced to share equipment. Bobby insists he be the waterboy after seeing a keg of heavily polluted water that coach Klein had been offering his players. Klein, despite being impressed with a sample of Bobby's water, tells him he cannot hire anybody due to the team's financial issues, but Bobby agrees to work for free.
Bobby's mother Helen tells Bobby of the evils of football (which she calls "foosball") and forbids him to play. She also mentions that unlike everyone else who shows contempt for him, Helen is the only one who unconditionally loves him. After being picked on again by his new team, Coach Klein encourages Bobby to strike back, which leads to him tackling and knocking out the team's quarterback. Coach Klein begs Bobby to join the team but he refuses as his mother would never approve. Coach Klein then meets with Bobby and his mother and attempts to convince her to let Bobby play by emphasizing that Bobby can get a college education. But she refuses despite Bobby's interest. Coach Klein convinces Bobby to join in secret (from his mother) saying that "what mama don't know, won't hurt her". Bobby quickly becomes one of the most feared linebackers in college football, hitting opposing players with injury-causing force. In his first game, Bobby causes a turnover that costs the team the win, angering them to the point that they completely overlook Bobby scoring an NCAA record of 16 sacks in the game. Despite this, the Mud Dogs win their next game when Bobby scores a safety on the final play, ending their long losing streak. The Mud Dogs go on a winning streak and earn a trip to the annual Bourbon Bowl to face the Cougars and Coach Beaulieu. Bobby's newfound fame also allows him to rekindle a relationship with his childhood friend and crush, Vicki Vallencourt, who has been in prison multiple times. However, Helen forbids Bobby from seeing her again (telling him that girls are "the devil").
At a pep rally, Coach Beaulieu reveals that Bobby never finished high school and his high school transcript was fake (as the school doesn't even exist), making him ineligible for college and football. The team and fans label him a "cheater" and snub him. The next day, Klein pulls some strings and the NCAA agrees to let Bobby compete in the Bourbon bowl if he can pass a GED exam. Bobby is reluctant as he feels he has become a pariah of the town and is angered over the fact that someone set him up. At that point Klein apologizes and admits he submitted the fake transcript because he was desperate to get even with Beaulieu. Klein tells Bobby about his past with Beaulieu, and the story convinces Bobby to take the exam to help Klein get revenge on Beaulieu and prove to everyone he's not a "dummy". While studying, Bobby inadvertently reveals to his mother that he's been playing football, going to college and seeing Vicki. This leads to them having a fight with Bobby lashing out over his mother's constant sheltering of him, saying he'll continue to defy her because he enjoys school and football. Bobby easily passes the exam, scoring a 97%, but his mother then fakes falling ill to keep Bobby from playing. Bobby refuses to ever play football again, feeling he drove his mother to illness, and stays in the hospital with his mother. Meanwhile, Vicki spreads word around the community of Bobby passing the exam. This leads to a gathering of fans at the hospital who apologize for not supporting him and try to convince him to play. Bobby however, refuses and Helen ends her fake illness after seeing the error of her ways. The next day, Helen tells Bobby the truth about his father, Robert Sr., and why she was faking her illness. Years ago through the letters she had, Bobby learns that his father found work in New Orleans, changed his name to Roberto and abandoned a pregnant Helen for a voodoo priestess. This in turn led Helen to excessively shelter Bobby all his life, afraid he would abandon her like Roberto did and forced Bobby to abandon the community who depend on him. Helen realizes the best thing for her to do is let him go since he has made a lot of friends and encourages him to play in the Bourbon Bowl because it means so much to him and the community.
Arriving at halftime of the Bourbon Bowl with Helen and Vicki, Bobby finds the team is losing 27-0 and has all but given up. Bobby manages to encourage the losing Mud Dogs to make a comeback. The team apologizes for not treating him with the respect he deserves and admit that he has become the heart and soul of the team. With Bobby's help, Coach Klein overcomes his fear of Red Beaulieu and visualizing him as someone or something he isn't afraid of (a reverse of the advice he gave Bobby to visualize a previous foe and attack), which helps him create new plays that allow the Mud Dogs to catch up. This doesn't settle in well with Red, realizing that the previous playbook he had stolen credit from Klein has backfired on him and begins to show desperation to save his perfect season. Helen helps the cheerleaders out by making coffee and it helps sober them up as they cheer their fans on to rally and renounces her previous hatred of football, while Vicki is seen giving out water to the Mud Dogs (filling in for Bobby's usual waterboy duties) She is interviewed by Lynn Swann and predicts the Mud Dogs will win 30-27. On the next to last play, after recovering a kick-off, a Cougars player(an enemy of Bobby's from his time with the Cougars) lands an illegal hit on Bobby and knocks him out, which leads to his ejection much to Red's detest. Vicki revives him however with a bottle of special water (which always stays cold) he had previously given her as a gift. During the final play, Bobby throws a touchdown pass and the Mud Dogs win the Bourbon Bowl by a score of 30-27 (just as Vicki predicted), leaving Red embarrassed that his perfect season for the Cougars is gone. Bobby is named the MVP.
Later, Bobby and Vicki get married and are heading to the riding lawn mower. On their way out, Bobby's father makes an unexpected appearance, telling him that he heard from ESPN that he may go to the NFL. Bobby tells him that he is not going to the NFL because he wants to stay in school and graduate. Roberto tries to get him to skip school and go to the NFL, hoping to personally profit as the father of an NFL player (citing the success Tiger Woods and his father have had). He is quickly tackled to the ground by an enraged Helen for this (and out of revenge against Roberto for leaving her years ago), much to the cheers of the crowd. Bobby and Vicki leave to consummate their marriage.
- He is similar to Forrest Gump from Forrest Gump
- He is mildly autistic and must have Asperger syndrome