I was hooked immediately. I’m not sure if the hook would work for all readers, but for me it was perfect. “From the snap of the ball to the snap of the first bone is closer to four seconds than to five. One Mississippi: The quarterback of the Washington Redskins, Joe Theismann …” That’s all I needed. In that instant I was twelve years old, watching Monday Night Football, and seeing that unforgettable play over and over in my mind. If you’ve seen The Blind Side in theaters, you’ve seen the play. The movie starts exactly as the book does.
Unless of course, like me, you couldn’t watch.
There’s much more football in the book than the movie, and that’s more than fine by me. Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor, Bill Parcells - these are names that drew me into football in my childhood. They are also names that provide the back story for why a six-five, 350 pound man is worth his weight in gold in the NFL.
Michael Oher’s story has become pretty familiar in the last year. You’ve at least seen the movie trailer on TV. Maybe you’ve seen the features produced by ESPN or NFL Network leading up the 2009 NFL Draft. Michael Oher, now a starting lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, lived homeless and basically parentless until, mostly by chance, he ended up at Briarcrest Christian School and had random run-ins with the Tuohy family.
Big Mike, by simply seeking warmth in the school gym one cold night, ends up on the Tuohy family’s ten thousand dollar couch. They share their Thanksgiving dinner with him. Mrs. Tuohy buys him clothing. More and more frequently they offer him a place to stay. Soon they offer him a permanent place in the Tuohy family. They legally adopt him.
The story of Michael’s (he hates being called Big Mike) journey from homeless and education-less to NFL starter is truly amazing. More people than just the Tuohy family offer their time and talents to give Michael what he needs. Tutoring, coaching, patience, and time, time, time. In the book author Michael Lewis takes a more methodical approach to telling the story. The movie’s approach is more emotional. Both, however, tell an incredible story and neither should be missed.
And I don’t say that very often about movies based on books.