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Title: The Blind Side
Author: Michael Lewis
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: 2006
Summary: When we first meet Michael Oher, he 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.
I would describe myself as a casual football fan. I don’t have a favorite team…I either root for one of the teams where I currently live or have lived in the past, or I root for the underdog. I understand some of the rules, but I definitely don’t get all the jargon. Most of my football knowledge comes from listening to the PTI podcast, so Michael Lewis did a great job of helping a football outsider like me understand how changing from the running game to the passing game changed the importance of the left tackle position on the offensive line.
Who knew that basically two people, Lawrence Taylor and Bill Walsh, can be credited with literally changing the game of football. Did you know that before 1982 the NFL didn’t care about sacks? That’s right! When L.T. entered the league, there were no official records of quarterback sacks. Thanks to his aggressive defense, a new stat is around to keep you from finishing first in your fantasy league. In conjunction with the rise of L.T., there was the paradigm shift to the passing game as the likelihood of a quarterback throwing an interception became no greater than a runner fumbling the ball. In fact, starting from the early 1960s, the yards gained when a team ran the ball consistently hovered around 4 yards. However, the average yards gained from passing the ball steadily increased from 4.6 yards in the 1960s to around 7 yards in the early 1990s. You don’t even have to be good at math to realize that passing the ball became the method to use in order to get your team in the end zone faster. Walsh developed his West Coast offense in the early 1970s, and by the late 1990s, every NFL team was using Walsh’s offense techniques. With the rise of throwing the ball more during games paired with one of the most violent and aggressive pass rushers, who is strong and fast enough to protect the quarterback?
Michael Oher is a big guy who hates to be called Big Mike and always dreamed of being as great as Michael Jordan. There weren’t a lot of mirrors around for Michael to realize that we was in fact a big and tall guy, and it would be near impossible for him to physically become the small guy he thought himself to be. Although, it is easy to conclude the effort Michael put into becoming the best basketball player gave him the skills to be an effective left tackle. I believe Michael Oher’s success story is the living embodiment of the Seneca quote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. What are the odds of a young man living on the wrong side of the tracks with no path toward a positive future being adopted by a wealthy well-to-do family, which leads to a full scholarship to his new family’s alma mater and becoming a first-round NFL draft pick?!
The Blind Side is two stories within one book. Although I found both stories compelling, I was drawn more to the story about the NFL offense than the story of Michael Oher playing the role of orphan Annie.
The Final Grade
Page Turner: It’s a great read for both NFL aficionados and non-sports fans who just love a good human interest story, but it’s not a book that I see myself needing to read again in the future.
So…were you blindsided by The Blind Side? Are you a football fan? Who is your favorite NFL team? Did you draft Michael Oher for your fantasy football team? Are you winning your fantasy league? Let us know in the comments! |RL