Even serious pro football fans will learn some things about the game from this book, and people who don't know a Bear from a Lion will find it remarkable as well.
When he took on the story of Michael Oher, a thoroughly disadvantaged black teenager adopted by a wealthy white couple in Memphis, author Michael Lewis decided that in order to explain the potential value of Oher's physical gifts, he had to provide a historical context. That's why The Blind Side begins with the description of the hit with which former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor ended the career of Washington quarterback Joe Theismann over twenty years ago.
At 6'6" and well over 300 pounds, Oher is blessed with the quick feet, long arms, and huge hands necessary to defend this generation's Theismanns from this generation's Taylors. For this reason, he may one day soon sign an NFL contract worth many millions of dollars. But the road to NFL riches runs through the college game, and until Michael Oher found his way into the home of Sean and Leigh Ann Touhy, college...even a college where the players study nothing but football...wouldn't have been a possibility. At sixteen, Michael Oher, the son of a drug-addicted mother and a father he didn't know, was living on his own in a Memphis housing project. He couldn't read or write. He had the brass to steal a bicycle, but lacked the confidence to answer someone asking him a question.
The Blind Side is an exceptionally ambitious book, and one of its achievements is that it acknowledges the complexity of various situations many people would rather regard as simple. But this is only one of the reasons it should earn an enormous readership, another being that it tells an exceptional story.
This program aired on October 21, 2006. The audio for this program is not available.