Monday, November 09, 2009

Book Review: The Blind Side

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beautiful book about the evolution of the left tackle in football and the biography of a young talent, Michael Oher.

The left tackle is the guy who protects the quarterback on the side that most right handers are not facing, i.e. the blind side. In the early 1980s, this guy was being paid peanuts, the same as the other offensive lineman and maybe half the salary of the guy he lined up against who was determined to knock the quarterback down. Today, he's often the second highest paid player on the team after the quarterback. More than the running backs, more than the receivers (and more than some quarterbacks).

The explanation of how this happened and what skills are necessary to play the position are intermingled with the story of Michael Oher. Oher is a huge black kid from the poor projects of West Memphis who through a combination of charity, fluke, guilt, and greed, ended up at Briarcrest Christian School in white, rich East Memphis. He attracted a lot of attention and especially the attention of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. They Tuohys buy Michael clothes, then let him crash on their couch, and eventually legally adopt the boy. This family story is told with incredible warmth and emotion and not a little humor. There are lines of dialogue in the book that made me laugh out loud. At one point, the NCAA is investigating to make sure the Tuohys didn't simply adopt Michael so that they could send him to their alma mater's football program. The NCAA investigator asks questions about Michael's education and Sean Tuohy tells her he doesn't know (his wife and a tutor they hired were in charge of that stuff). This leads to this exchange:

NCAA: ... you don't know if he's supposed to take English or math or science. That's the part that still baffles me.

Sean: Ma'am, I hate that it baffles you. But all you asked me to be is truthful. You didn't ask me to be smart.

One great thing about the story is that in real life I would never get to know a family like the Tuohys: millionaire, white Country Club Republicans obsessed with sports, but I got a lot of pleasure in getting to know them through the book.

Michael Lewis of Liar's Poker and other books, is a great writer with excellent comic and dramatic timing. You don't need to know football to enjoy this book. To put it one way: if you enjoyed Friday Light Nights (book, movie or tv show), you will love this book. To put it another way: I recommended my wife read this with her all women book group. I couldn't put this book down.

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