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Rarely do sports films have a cultural impact, yet The Blind Side remains one of the exceptions.
Was the heart-warming classic based on a true story?
Michael Oher’s story is one of the most inspirational to ever pass through the National Football League. After a childhood of poverty and sheer misery, Oher was adopted by the wealthy Tuohy family, which created the conditions for him to succeed in school and maximize his athletic potential.
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With the advent of Netflix, many have watched The Blind Side after Oher retired and haven’t even known that the story was real. Yet, the film, which featured Sandra Bullock, couldn’t have been more factual, even if Oher himself disputes some of the intricate details of the dialog.
This was a very real account of what was, at times, a painfully real existence for a teenage Oher.
What is The Blind Side?
Initially based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis, the film was far more popular.
The book was virtually split into two parts. It focused on the changing nature of professional football, with Lawrence Taylor having dominated NFL quarterbacks with his ability to rush from the ‘Blind Side.’
This essentially means that Taylor would rush from the right, and with most quarterbacks being right-handed, they wouldn’t have a good enough view of him encroaching upon them.
Thus, the film utilized the title ‘Blind Side’ to evoke emotional responses to the phrase and link it to football.
Michael Oher played at left tackle, putting him in the direct line of blind side rushing defenders. His task was to protect the quarterback’s blind spot, while the film also explored his protective instincts towards his adopted family.
The film focused entirely on Oher’s life. It wasn’t as much of a look at the NFL as the original book.
Having bounced from foster home to foster home as a child, Oher saw his father incarcerated and his mother struggle with a debilitating drug addiction.
The Tuohy family had a daughter called Collins and a son called Sean, and they went to high school with Big Mike.
They formed a friendship and upon seeing the difficult life Oher had, the Tuohy family looked to formally adopt him after his father died in prison.
How did Michael Oher feel about The Blind Side?
While the film detailed the real events that saw the Tuohy family help the former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle study and improve his grades enough to play college football, the player himself has mixed feelings.
“I got downgraded so much because of something off the field. 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. Football is what got me here, and the movie… it wasn’t me.”
It's an unfortunate consequence that many people believe the film propelled Oher’s rise to the NFL. When he was drafted in the first round, some even suggested it was merely because of the story in the book/film, rather than his footballing prowess.
It’s easy to see why Michael Oher became increasingly frustrated with that over time. He has continued to be critical of the film on social media.
One would find it easy to believe that Big Mike felt cheated out of professional respect. He had to work incredibly hard to make it to the NFL, and he succeeded in the sport by winning the Super Bowl.
He was also a part of another team’s run to the Super Bowl in Carolina, but he fell short on that occasion.
If it felt like people were giving the film credit for his career and not him, his annoyance was totally justified. The unfortunate thing, though, is that it appears his relationship with the Tuohy family has completely broken.
None of them were invited to his wedding in 2022, and the last public social media post linking the family together came as far back as 2020.
The Blind Side was a film that was entirely based on a true story, but with that comes consequences, and this is one such example.