Unless your team is in The Super B…… or as I’m calling it to avoid being sued by billionaires, The Bowl Of Super, finding a reason to watch that doesn’t concern commercials is difficult. I may have an angle for you, if you have a heart. The next time you hear someone blame their lot in life for why they haven’t become better people, show them this story of two professional athletes who are victorious on and off the field. One of them had a movie made about him while the other should. They are two men in their mid twenties from abusive, neglected backgrounds of poverty that are on the verge of being a professional football champions.
America’s acting sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, won an Academy Award three years playing Lee Ann Tuohy in The Blind Side. Tuohy is a real-life fast talking blonde matriarch of an upper middle class white family who took in a homeless African-American teenager named Michael Oher. Oher went on to become an offensive tackle at the University of Mississippi and is today, a star lineman for the Baltimore Ravens.
Although not as famous, Julie Finley and her basketball coach husband Chris are equally as generous. Ten years ago they opened their middle class white home to 17-year-old African-American Patrick Willis and his three siblings. While Hollywood didn’t call on the Finleys, their story is also inspiring.
Today, Willis is considered the best linebacker in professional football and leads his San Francisco 49ers against Oher’s Ravens for the top prize in American sports.
The breaks Oher and Willis received as teenagers are not be ignored. While they may not have done it all on their own, the way each child turned into an impressive adult is the real story. When both men met each other at the University on Mississippi in the mid 200s, their shared experiences of early life woe and later life wonder bonded them. Tuohys and the Finleys have even become close friends as well. Despite horrible upbringings and bleak prospects until their mid teens, Oher and Willis never gave up trying to better themselves.
This weekend’s Super Bowl will have more media focus on the coaching brothers, San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh vs. his brother Jim, Baltimore’s coach. But the unique, incredible stories of Michael Oher and Patrick Willis shouldn’t be overlooked. Joined by their backgrounds, college relationsship, and incredible escapes from disastrous starts in life, Oher and Willis aren’t just rootable, they’re admirable.