"I’m not trying to prove anything… 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. That’s why I get downgraded so much, because of something off the field. 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. [It’s] taken away from my football… That’s why people criticize me. That’s why people look at me every single play. I’m tired of the movie. I’m here to play football."
From an ESPN interview with Carolina Panthers player Michael Oher, published yesterday. Of course the movie he’s referring to is "The Blind Side," the unexpected blockbuster that was to be Quinton Aaron’s breakout role (he played Oher in the film), that won Sandra Bullock an Oscar, and that was on the receiving end of much criticism on black film blogs like this one. The subject came up when Oher was asked by ESPN if a minicamp "battle" between him and defensive end Kony Ealy, showed he has to prove his worth after struggling the past two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
"The Blind Side" was a 2009 film, so it’s interesting, for lack of a better word, that Oher still holds it responsible for his NFL struggles, even if only in part, 6 long years later.
It certainly won’t be the first time he’s spoken negatively about the film; about a year after it was released, a book that told his story was published, with the title "I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond." In it, he addressed some of the items that he said the film got wrong about him; for example: “I felt like it [the movie] portrayed me as dumb instead of as a kid who had never had consistent academic instruction and ended up thriving once he got it.”
That’s certainly not all the book is about, by the way, as the title suggests. But its publication was an attempt for Michael to reclaim control of his own story without once taking anything away from his love of or his gratitude for his adoptive family – a family that was elevated to near sainthood, thanks in part to the film, which was, itself, based on a 2006-published book of the same name, written by Michael Lewis.
At a budget of just $29 million, "The Blind Side" grossed over $300 million worldwide, and enjoyed lots of critical acclaim.
And despite (or because of) the film’s success, Michael Oher apparently felt that he just had to tell his own story, instead of having others tell it for him. And this book was the result. Will it be optioned and made into a film too? Probably not, for obvious reasons. It’s likely missing something… something that looks like a white person’s POV.
If you’re interested in purchasing Oher’s tale, click here to do so via Amazon, for a few dollars.