“The Blind Side” And Related Stories

Here’s another posted caused by the Twins doing absolutely nothing right now. Last weekend, I saw the movie The Blind Side with my girlfriend. Now, it’s not really fair for me to say that it was a good movie, because I’ve said that about 99% of the movies that I’ve watched in my lifetime.* But, that is the truth, I really felt that it was a good movie and despite it being about a football player, the storyline did not focus as much on football as I thought it would.

* The only movie I can remember that I’ve definitely disliked was “Napoleon Dynamite.” It’s also the only movie that I have rented but then deliberately stopped watching in the middle because of how boring it was. You can imagine how cranky I was when I kept hearing, “Can I have some of your tots?” for the few months after the movie was released.

For those that have not seen or heard about the movie, it is based on the true story of rookie Michael Oher (pronounced “oar”) of the Baltimore Ravens and the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis (same guy that wrote Moneyball!). Long plot short,* Oher, who at the beginning of the movie is a guy constantly moving between foster families because he keeps running away. Eventually, he is adopted by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy when he is seen walking on the road during a rainstorm. While with the Tuohys, he starts improving with his school grades, which allows him to become eligible to play football. Although it’s a rough start for him, he starts to excel thanks to some advice by Leigh Anne at one of his practices. With his newfound talent, he starts drawing the attention of many college football programs in the southeastern U.S. area. However, he won’t be able to receive a football scholarship until he attains a 2.5 GPA. The Tuohys hire a tutor, and by the end of his senior year, Michael (he’s referred to as “Big Mike” for the first half of the movie, but later he asks the Tuohys to call him Michael) has a 2.52 GPA, making him eligible for the scholarships. He wants to go to Tennessee, but picks Ole Miss thanks to some not-so-subtle persuasion by Leigh Anne and his tutor (both Ole Miss alumni, along with Sean). The NCAA takes notice and interviews Michael, asking if he was being forced to attend Ole Miss. He gets frustrated and leaves, but upon returning, he states that he wants to attend Ole Miss not because he is being forced, but because he would be following in his family’s footsteps. The movie ends with actual clips and pictures of Oher and the Tuohys during the NFL Draft when Oher was selected by the Ravens.

* Trust me, this is the short version. The long version was about 10% complete two separate times, but I deleted it because I felt I was including too much of the plot. Therefore, I apologize if the flow of this paragraph was choppy. With this final draft, I had to change some words because I kept trying to include the word “eventually” in every sentence.

As I stated above, I loved this movie. It definitely achieves the “feel good” idea with showing Oher’s struggles from his early life compared to the progress he makes while with the Tuohys. Also, my girlfriend said that she loved the movie, even though that she is not a football fan (hell, she asked if we could see this movie, not me) so I feel anyone would enjoy this movie. However, there were a few things that bugged me a little bit. First, when he first joins his new school, it is said that Michael scored poorly on all parts of his last standardized test except for one: 98th percentile in “protective instincts.” It is this and his behavior around the Tuohys that encourages how Leigh Anne teaches him to protect his quarterback and running back at all costs while on the football team, relating the players on the offensive side to the Tuohy family. Now, I haven’t taken a standardized test for quite a few years, but I can assure you that I have never been tested on or received scores for “protective instincts.” The only way I could see this being possible is if Oher was tested on his emotional intelligence (EI), which is used as an alternative to IQ tests, and the test relates to studying a person’s emotions in four main areas: perceiving emotion, using emotions to facilitate thought, understanding emotions, and managing emotions. But, since I cannot confirm that “protective instincts” is part of the EI test, I still feel that this is a bogus thing made up by the writers of the movie to help explain why Michael was the perfect person to play football as an offensive lineman.

Second, I agree with K-Bro’s analysis of the movie when she mentioned that she felt that the movie focused too much on showing how everyone helped Michael progress through the movie, rather than showing his own work. It was a teacher that discovered he scored better when given oral exams. Leigh Anne taught Michael his role while playing offensive line. Her son, S.J., helped get Michael into playing shape for football. The tutor helped Michael succeed in school. Nowhere in the movie is there a scene showing Michael accomplish something on his own. In a way, this movie almost felt like it was Sandra Bullock’s movie more than Quinton Aaron’s (Michael Oher). K-Bro also complains about Oher’s personality in the movie, but I disagree with her. I felt that Quinton Aaron did a great job being shy/withdrawn from letting people know his true self.

Edit: I also liked that actual college football coaches like Lou Holtz, Nick Saban, Houston Nutt, etc. were in the movie. I figure the acting part wasn’t too hard for them, since their lines were pretty much imitating my idea of a  typical recruiting spiel (minus the offers they were giving S.J.).

Lastly, I understand that it’s hard to find 6 1/2+ foot tall, 300 lb. actors, but it bothered me just a little bit how the appearance of the movie’s Michael Oher and the actual Michael Oher differed.* The movie’s version, played by Quinton Aaron, appears to be more hefty than muscular. But, the actual Oher is the opposite. I have these pictures on the right to illustrate my point. Quinton Aaron is on the top, and Michael Oher is on the bottom (click pictures to enlarge). Now why does this bother me? Because in the movie, we are supposed to believe that Oher is a prodigy at blocking defenders. But, the movie Oher looks like if new Timberwolves forward/center Nathan Jawai gained a bunch of poundage (and the Timberwolves complain that Jawai needs more conditioning as he is right now). Real Oher looks like a football player. Movie Oher looks like he’s at fat camp. I do understand that this is Hollywood, and it’s more believable to have a gentle Oher be played by a cuddly guy rather than a muscular, tough-looking one, and that’s life. I feel like I’m being picky, but hey, at times I can be very picky (just ask about my eating habits).

* If you’ve seen the movie, you can argue that I could complain about movie Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw…wait, that’s Tim McGraw?) and the real Sean Tuohy as well. The reason I don’t care as much about this is that Sean wasn’t trying to play a sport and succeed. As long as they weren’t of a different race, and movie Sean looked like a normal father, I wouldn’t have cared.

Clearly, Michael Oher isn’t the only amazing story that we have heard of in our lifetimes. There are many that jump out to us, like Jim Abbott overcoming his lack of a right hand to become a rather successful MLB pitcher. This leads to my main point for this post. On Christmas, I was watching Outside The Lines: First Report on ESPN at my grandparents’ house. On the show, they were recapping some of the most inspirational stories from the year. I was only able to catch the first two, but they affected me in the same way as “The Blind Side.” The first story is about two high school wrestlers, Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett.

(Left to right) Dartanyon and Leroy

The second story is about a 14 year old football player named Charlie Wilks.

Charlie with Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe

I’m really tempted to tell you what is so amazing about each of these stories, but I’m going to have to refrain myself because I don’t want to ruin anything for you. I highly encourage you to watch both videos that accompany those links. The videos should automatically start after you click on the links, so patiently ignore the 15 sec. ad until the actual story starts. The Leroy/Dartanyon story is about 13 minutes and the Charlie story is about 11 minutes, so you should probably set aside some time if you’re going to watch these back-to-back. Despite the length, you will not be disappointed with these stories. You can read the columns below the videos, but they basically just repeat what you could learn from watching. Come on, find your inner schoolboy/girl and know that you can skip reading the text when you can just watch the video instead!

I hope you all are having a good Christmas weekend. Let’s hope our next feel good story is a Joe Mauer contract extension.


6 Responses to ““The Blind Side” And Related Stories”

  1. Peach Says:

    Thank you, I also enjoyed the movie but felt my BS meter go off on the “protective instincts” thing. As far as I know the only tests which evaluate protective instincts are those administered to dogs.

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