I am not much of a non-fiction book reader. I have read a handful of biographies in my lifetime but fantasy is usually my stock and trade in books. However, I am a football fan, and I did enjoy the movie this book is based on. Luckily, those two things motivated me to pick up The Blind Side by Michael Lewis. This book gives us two stories and lots of insight. The two stories are how the game of Football has changed from 1975 through/to the 1990s and how as a result of this change in football and by the generosity of one family a young man’s life changes. Both stories are masterfully told and so enrapturing that I couldn’t put the book down. I read the entire book in one day putting off the errands that I need to do until tomorrow just so I could finish.
There are really two stories told in The Blind Side. One story is about how the game of Football changed once passing the football became a major offensive tool. The other story is about a young poor African-American boy name Michael. He is given a rare chance through some unusual circumstances to change his life. These stories intertwine because the change that happens in the game of football is one of the reasons that Michael is given his chance at a new and better life.
The stories are told intertwined with one another as one depends on the other. Had the game of football not changed the way it did then perhaps Michael would never have been given the chance he was. The first tale is about how the passing game becomes more essential to the game of football, and how as the passing game becomes more important so do the quarterbacks. Therefore, if the quarterbacks are more important and you spend a lot of money on them, then it becomes important to protect them. Therefore, the protector of the quarterback becomes a key and eventually a high paid player especially the one on the blind side of the quarterback (that would be the left side since most quarterbacks are right handed). This position, the left side tackle, takes an unusual combination of bulk and athleticism that is seldom seen in one individual. Therefore, good and properly built left tackles are rare and now highly paid in the NFL. The Left tackle, the book explains, became particularly important with the introduction of players like Lawrence Taylor who would rush the blind side of quarterbacks to sack them. Lawrence Taylor was a particularly vicious player that injured many a quarterback and ended the career of Joe Theismann, quarterback for the Redskins. Players like Lawrence Taylor increased the importance for a team to have that unique left tackle capable of stopping them and protecting the quarterback from injury. This is because if you lose your quarterback that can cost you the season because good quarterbacks are hard to replace and are often the keystone of an offensive line. It is this evolution of the game of football that opens up the chance or opportunity for Michael Oher to become a great and successful football player since he has that unique build of a great left tackle.
Michael is a poor African-American boy who never knew his father and had a drug addict for a mother. He also had 13 siblings many of which he had no real contact with. In some version of charity, a man takes Michael to be enrolled in a rich, all white Christian private school along with his own son Steven. The coaches there see the potential for having Michael on their teams but his academics are a mess and everyone just assumes he is stupid because he doesn’t talk much and won’t fill out tests. Then by some miracle a rich family, the Tuohys, take Michael under their wing. Sean Tuohy see a lot of himself in the boy, he was also poor when he was young and is a self-made man through the help of sports (in his case basketball), and Leigh Anne just saw someone who needed helping so she helped him. They take him in, feed him, clothe him and help him get his grades up so he can play football in high school and in college. And the rest they say is history. We all know that Michael Oher ends up being a first round draft pick in the NFL. He is actually still playing for the Baltimore Ravens.
What reading this novel shows you is what an extraordinary journey it was for Michael to get to where he is today. It is inspiring in both what he is able to accomplish and how Tuohys helped him. This book also explains why a lineman position is so important to the football and what makes Michael uniquely suited for that position in the game. It also reminds there are people out there that can succeed in life if only given a chance. And sometimes ordinary people like us can give them that chance.
I think this book is very nicely written. The parts about the evolution of football are nicely intermixed with Michael’s story so that neither drag nor bore the reader. Lewis’s writing style is straight forward and easy to read. He is able to captivate the reader and pull them into the story he has to tell. I thought he did a very nice job explaining the job of the left tackle and the how and why that position has become so important in football. It was easy for me to understand and I found it a very fascinating history of how football has changed. I don’t know all that much about the history of football. I am a fan of the NFL and watch it every year but I don’t know anything about how the game has changed over the years and this book provided a nice starting point for my football history education in a nice, readable way.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it in one sitting. It moves very well and is an easy but educational read. If you enjoyed the movie or if you enjoy football then you should read this book. I don’t think you will be sorry.