The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

fpoThe Blind Side. Finished 10-6-15, rating 4.25/5, sports, 320 pages, pub. 2006

Unabridged audio read by Stephen Hoye. 11 hours, 47 minutes.

When we first meet Michael Oher is one of thirteen children by a mother addicted to crack; he does not know his real name, his father, his birthday, or how to read or write. He takes up football, and school, after a rich, white, Evangelical family plucks him from the streets. Then two great forces alter Oher: the family’s love and the evolution of professional football itself into a game in which the quarterback must be protected at any cost. Our protagonist becomes the priceless package of size, speed, and agility necessary to guard the quarterback’s greatest vulnerability: his blind side.    from Goodreads

I loved this book, even the very footbally parts.  Many people have seen the movie that won a Best Actress Award for Sandra Bullock and are familiar with the rags to riches story of NFL player Michael Oher.  His upbringing was heartbreaking, but good fortune finally showed him some love by getting him off the rough Memphis streets and into a private Christian school in his teens and having the privileged Tuohy family adopt him as one of their own.  His transformation was inspiring and proved so many things about race and wealth and the importance of a loving family.

The Tuohy’s seemed too good to be true in this book (and that fact that the author and Sean Tuohy are old friends should be taken into account).  What they did was the epitome of charity, not just giving money, but charity of the heart.  They saw Michael had a need, housing and someone to look after him, and they stepped in, arms wide open.  When this large black man joined their Southern white Christian Republican family others may have had reservations, but the Tuohy’s paid no attention.  The miracles they were able to make happen for Michael showed great love.

At its heart it is a football book and alternating with Michael’s story is the history of the left offensive tackle position, the very one  that Michael would be called to play because of his size and athletic ability.  It all started in the 1980’s with Lawrence Taylor and Lewis managed to make even these somewhat dry passages come alive with humor.  It deftly explains why the position became so important and allowed Michael the privilege of becoming so sought after, essentially every college in the country making visits and calls to get him to their campus.

I did have my reservations about the way Michael was portrayed.  So many stories about his lack of understanding of basic things, while highlighting the economic divide also repeatedly painted him in an unflattering light.  He is still playing in the NFL and has recently talked about this in an interview.

“People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie. They don’t really see the skills and the kind of player I am.  This stuff, calling me a bust, people saying if I can play or not … that has nothing to do with football. It’s something else off the field. That’s why I don’t like that movie.”

As much as Michael may not like it, the glaring light shone on privilege, be it the privilege of race or money, is an important one.  The inner city public schools were, at best, negligent and the city not much better.  The story of Michael Oher shows one of the few that made it, his last NFL contract paying him $7M over two years.  And the story of the Tuohys show that with a charitable heart the world can change, one kid at a time.

This is a football book, but Michael’s story will appeal to anyone.  If you don’t like football, you can just skip those parts :)

Ohio State Game Day Saturday

OSU 30    Illinois 0

It’s wet here in Ohio and most of the first half of this game was a soggy mess.    It wasn’t exciting, but it was a good, solid shutout.  Great way to open the Big Ten season.

A little Ohio State trivia…Actors Patricia Heaton, JK Simmons, and Melinda Kanakaredes all attended OSU.

So, how did your team do today?  Give us an update :)

Here are a few bloggers who left some love for their team last week…

Bonnie and Em shared in my Ohio State winning afterglow.

Staci is always rooting for Michigan State (as am I since my hubby is an alum) although they fell to the Irish.

Kathy’s Virginia Tech pulled a fast one and beat Nebraska.

Thoughts of Joy was Michigan Blue all the way.

And Harvee showed some appreciation for the Toledo Rockets even in their loss.

Ohio State Game Day Saturday

I LOVE college football.  As a kid growing up just east of Columbus it was scarlet and gray all the way.  So, I am so happy football season is back.  I am still recovering from last week’s loss to USC, but I’m trying to let it go. 

 Today’s football score…OHIO STATE  38     TOLEDO  0

We looked pretty good.  Pryor has a great arm, now we’ll see if he can get a few more completions.  It was a happy game after last week.

A little Ohio state trivia…Goosebumps author R.L. Stine and author John Jakes both graduated from Ohio State.  As did 2 authors I’ve interviewed this year, Sherryl Woods and Rachel Hauck.

So how did your team do today?

Ohio State-Michigan Football

It’s THE day for Ohio State and Michigan football lovers.  It’s the game that always ends the season and it should be a cold and snowy one.  The Buckeyes are 22 1/2 point favorites and have won the last four years.  But Michigan could make it’s whole season with a win today. 

Michigan Wolverines-Ohio State Buckeyes
Teams Michigan Wolverines
Ohio State Buckeyes
Originated 1897
Series Michigan leads, 57-41-6
Most Recent Winner Ohio State
Trophy None
Team Ohio State Michigan
National Titles 7 11
Heisman Winners 7 3
Bowl Appearances 39 38
BCS Bowl Appearances 6 4
Rose Bowl Games 13 20
All-Americans 177 75
Big Ten Titles 32 42

OSU vs. Minnesota

OSU 34 Minnesota 21

True freshman Terrelle Pryor started the game.  He is already good and it’s a comfort to fans that he’ll be around awhile.

Beanie Wells was back!  Not up to par, but back for a solid game.

The game served as the kick-off for the 2008-09 Scarlet and Gray games, a program for Ohio State student-athletes to support each other at designated games throughout the year. The members of Ohio State’s varsity teams, comprising more than 850 athletes, were recognized on the field during halftime. Four spring 2008 Buckeye conference championship teams – women’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, men’s tennis and men’s volleyball – were recognized as well.

Ohio State opening football game

Yesterday, Jason and I watched in dread as Beanie Wells went down in the 3rd quarter of the OSU/Youngstown State football game.  As alumni I get two tickets a year and sometimes we give our tickets away, but this year we went.  It was a beautiful day and I LOVE the first home game of the season because the band alumni come back to make one massive pack of marching music.  And at halftime they did FOUR Script Ohio’s, which is always a highlight.  We were four rows back on the upper deck of the Horseshoe and the sun gave us both a nice pink face (and a red nose for me) and the game was good.  We got to see our new freshman quarterback, who is going to be awesome, and were enjoying some hot dogs and Coke when Beanie went down by the goal line and did not get up…for a long time.  It was pretty tense in the stadium.  He is a Heisman hopeful and we Buckeyes take our football very seriously.  We are traveling to USC in a few weeks and we need Beanie.  We won the game 43-0 and we all hope for Beanie’s speedy recovery.  When I heard the injury was turf toe, I thought, great, he stubbed his toe and he’ll be fine.  Then I was told that it could be serious.  If the injury can be serious they really need to come up with a more scary name.  Any ideas?