Michael Oher – literally one of the most significant figures in the professional sports world: almost 2 metres tall, weighing 143 kg, he breaks into the American football league, forcing it to speak in one voice. However, although Michael Oher is very successful today, he was once abandoned. His mother abused drugs, and his father died. But then the man with a hard childhood, who spent most of his youth wondering the poor area of Memphis, Tennessee, somehow managed to retain a full measure of kindness, always hoping to find a place to call home. A story about Big Mike, a man with a genuine heart and a superstar ending in John Lee Hancock’s movie “Blind Side”, based on Michael Lewis’s book “The Blind Side: the Evolution of a Game”.
Michael Lewis, the groundbreaking writer who has made an impressive showing on the New York Times’s bestseller list. Some of his books have been adapted to the big screen and have been nominated for Oscars. Some of them you know well, some of them we all plan to read. Mr. Lewis has revealed to ordinary people the truth and profound meaning of the important games we have known. “Important Game” is an attention-getting term, but an appropriate one.
From American football to high finance and big banks – people have been accustomed to watching the big leagues. But it is hard for mere observers to imagine how profound is the philosophy of football and baseball. Moreover, people who have followed it closely have been in search of miracles. I think they basically feel in their gut what the world needs. But what is really special – they are not tempted strictly with money and fame. Forward-looking and risk-tolerant, they not only lead us to the plots of the future but show how romantic and interesting the things we have known can be. In the next two reviews, I want to recount impressive stories about Michael Oher, the American football player, and Billy Bean, the well-known baseball manager and scout.
“The Blind Side” – What’s in the Plot?
Michael Oher (played by Quinton Aaron, and by the way, this role brings him to the top of his career) was once an abandoned child – one of thirteen children of a drug-abusing mother. He spent the first seven years of his life in a poor Memphis, Tennessee neighborhood. Michael had to live with foster families after social case workers took away his mother’s rights as a parent. He never saw his brother, Marcus, after the age of seven. His only clothes were a spare T-shirt in a plastic bag. He was forced to sleep on the streets, scrounging for food, laundry money, or a place to stay for a night. Without really understanding what love might mean, or what warmth could mean, he saved his genuine heart for the people around him.
Once accepted into a Christian school, the local football coach (Ray McKinnon) notices him as a prospective player from the moment the two meet. But he could never could imagine that Michael couldn`t be aggressive, given his appearance.
One evening the wealthy Tuohy family meets Michael on the road, just walking to the gym, as he has remembered. However, the mother, Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) offers Michael a place to stay in the Touhy home. In the end, she and her husband, Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw), decide to become Michael’s trustees, helping him to adapt to the school and to football’s rules.
Michael Oher was about 18 when he found the Tuohy family. He was doing badly at school and had little chance of becoming a university football player. Helped by a private tutor, he learns the ropes and takes a chance to become a member of the local football team. It is the moment when his path turns towards daylight and away from the darkness that has shadowed him.
However, he saves his real personality and strength in order to change the people around him.
What Is the book about?
The book tells the story of the American professional football player, Michael Oher, who plays for the Baltimore Ravens. In 2009, John Lee Hancock released the onscreen story based on Michael Lewis’s book, “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game”, which includes a history of the game of football as it has evolved over the last three decades. So, the storylines divide into two main parts, the first one reflecting the important role of the offensive left tackle and Lawrence Taylor – the man who began the evolution of the rules. For greater clarity, let me explain the meaning of the blind side in the context of American football tradition (I don’t pretend to be an expert, but have just read extracts from the aforementioned book).
In the 1980s, Lawrence Taylor was a powerful linebacker who changed the general understanding of his game, in fact, the game that people watch around the world, in order to improve the “blind side” phenomenon. How? Almost all quarterbacks play while focused on the right and keep the left shoulder close to the ground. Playing with their backs to the rest of the team, they create a vulnerable gap, called the “blind side” on their left, which drives the need to strengthen protection in that part of the field. Lawrence Taylor was the man who changed the ordinary disposition of the linebackers. Taylor`s power and speed were impressive. His skills became the starting point to revise the place of the left tackles. Sports scouts used to search for players with the basic features: as well as height and weight, also important was outward appearance – the offensive player must be large and powerful, as is shown in the movie at the very beginning.
The second storyline in the book is dedicated to Michael Oher, a football player whose destiny is as hard and tricky as his career. On the official Michael Lewis website, you can find words summarizing Michael`s past in literally 101 words. The reader learns that Michael Oher was one of thirteen children by a mother who was addicted to crack. He took up football, and school, after a rich – and what was exceptional given the prevailing social norms – white Evangelical family took him home with them. Then two great forces altered Oher’s life: the Touhy family’s love and the evolution of professional football itself into a game in which the quarterback must be protected at any cost. He became the priceless package of size, speed, and agility necessary to guard the quarterback’s greatest vulnerability: his blind side.
For Michael Oher, life turns towards the light, and he gets the family, the opportunities, the friends, and the well-being that wants in his future. Stadiums fill with applauding fans, sportswriters offer to pay him large sums for interviews; but still, in spite of all the fame, Michael remains genuine, humble, and kind. Probably, materialistic things can never change real values: love, support, and family deliver the warmth of those who can believe in you, even the if the world turns it back.
But wait, should these blessings be limited to linebackers who protect our loved ones and foster kindness, and who are important figures in our lives?
How Could We Get the Blind Side from the Plot?
The blind side of reality – when Michael tells Leigh Anne that his mother taught him to isolate himself from the disasters that plague his life. Every time she takes drugs, she asks little Michael to close his eyes, imagining that his world will change.
The blind side for Leigh Anne and Sean – they never would have imagined acting as substitute parents for a black-skinned boy from a dangerous part of town. Moreover, Sean admits a political opposite, a democratic teacher, for Michael in their house. Sean is also kind and open-minded, but together with Leigh Anne, they broaden their principles, and even break down some of them.
For SJ (Jae Head) and Collins Tuohy (Lily Collins), it is a kind of social stand. For teens at school, self-acceptance and peer acceptance are very important. In other words, they are all obsessed with reputation. But for Collins, it becomes a powerful lesson to see how mature she is compared to her schoolmates. SJ is only seven, so for him it is an interesting adventure to get another brother.
The blind side of us. Look around, even we who are not wealthy, we could always be grateful for our lives and the chance to change our lives. This is our blind side, to accept all possibilities as entitlements. But it’s wrong. Just watch the movie and you will understand that many of our natural understandings have been lost, we have lost ourselves in the global rat race. But what is also amusing is that, to become the richest man in the world is worth nothing, you need no fame or money. You need your heart and love!
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