The Blind Side, released in 2009, followed Michael Oher’s journey from high school football to the NFL. When he saw it, he wasn’t impressed by how much it got wrong. He also didn’t appreciate the lasting effect it had on his football career. Most biopics, or films made about a celebrity’s life, come out after their death. This is true of Bohemian Rhapsody which honored Freddie Mercury of Queen and Elvis which honored Elvis Presley. It’s a bit more difficult when the subject of the film is still alive.
Keep watching to learn why Michael Oher bashed The Blind Side.
The Blind Side was based on Michael Lewis’s 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. It wasn’t written specifically about Michael Oher but instead followed the New York Giants player Taylor’s football strategy. Michael still managed to stick out and became the center of the film based on it.
The movie starred Quentin Aaron as Michael Oher, Sandra Bullock as his adoptive mother Leigh Anne Tuohy, and Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohoy.
He spends a night with the Tuhoy family until trying to return home. Unfortunately, he had nowhere to go because his mother was struggling with drug addiction and there was an eviction notice on his door.
Michael brought up his grades with help from a tutor and became a football star. The Tuhoys brought him into their home and adopted him. He joined college football at the University of Mississippi. In 2009, he was drafted into the NFL, playing for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Blind Side was a commercial success that broke box office records, earning $300 million. It won over audiences with its inspirational message and won Sandra Bullock an Academy Award nomination for her acting.
Michael Oher’s Criticisms
One of the few audience members who didn’t like The Blind Side was Michael Oher himself. He told ESPN that it negatively affected his football career. He also had major issues with the film itself and how much it differed from reality.
The problems ranged from small details to major changes that didn’t match what actually happened. He attempted to let the world know the truth about it all in his 2011 book I Beat the Odds. There was plenty to untangle.
Life Prior to the Puhoys
The hard early life that Michael faced in the film was real. He was born in 1986 when the crack cocaine epidemic was at its peak.
He did have a drug-addicted mother named Denise and a father in prison. Also, he had 11 brothers and sisters who had to face that difficult time with him. They weren’t mentioned in the film.
The family struggled but, unlike in the film, they weren’t completely homeless. They ended up bouncing between foster families and friends’ couches by the time he was in first grade. He attended nine different schools in 11 years until he was 15.
The Blind Side kept most of these details but changed how he and the Tuohoys met. It shows a cinematic scene where they meet him soaked in the rain and immediately decide to take him in.
In the film, Mike first met Sean when they were attending one of his daughter’s volleyball games. The boy kept to the side and was cleaning up trash. In reality, Sean intentionally went to the school to see Mike, see if he had talent, and make sure he also had enough money for lunch.
The adoption process of making him a permanent part of their family was also much, much slower in reality. It takes at least six months to adopt a child that’s not already in your care as a foster child. In certain cases, it can take over a year.
Michael Oher Change His Personality
Quinton Aaron played Michael Oher in the film. He never had any issues with his acting skills, but he did have an issue with the way he played him as an introverted and passive boy who always stays by himself.
The real Michael Ohr describes himself as more of an extrovert and a leader. He may be silent at times, but the football field is his comfort zone. It’s the one place he can let go and push forward with energy and a smile on his face.
The massive change of personality in the film may have helped gain sympathy from the audience, but, understandably, Michael didn’t appreciate it.
Michael Oher Didn’t Need to Be Taught to Play
Michael didn’t like how The Blind Side portrayed him as dumb instead of “a kid who never had consistent academic instruction and ended up thriving once I got it.” He may not have been a perfect student, but he didn’t need to be taught how to play football.
A football coach named Tony Henderson began helping him before he ever met the Tuhoys. He enrolled his son in a local school and took him along. That’s where Michael got his education. He also learned about other sports such as track and basketball.
The Blind Side shows the Tuhoys teaching him how to play football. He never understood why the director showed them explaining blocking or moving around ketchup bottlers or any other ways to learn the basics.
Perhaps the change was a way to deepen the audience’s connection between the character and his found family. Whatever the reason, It was one of Michael’s main hang-ups with the film.
Keeping all the historical aspects of any story is difficult, and The Blind Side got a few major details wrong. They didn’t properly tell the story of what happened when Michael entered the football recruitment office.
The film shows Tom Lemming finding Michael’s DVD. It was on top of a magazine with Bryce Brown on the cover. If The Blind Side actually takes place from 2003-2004, that couldn’t be possible. Bryce Brown was only 12 years old at the time! That magazine and his spot on the All-American team didn’t come until 2009.
There were other historical issues in the film as well. Sean Tuohy is shown using the Safari browser on a Windows operating system. It wasn’t released until 2007. The model of the car that Leigh Ann drives, a BMW 750L1, wasn’t available until 2006. It looks different than the one available in 2003 and 2004.
Toning Down Racial Issues
Casting was never a problem when it came to keeping The Blind Side’s Southern roots. Sandra Bullock is a well-known Southern actress, and Tim McGraw is one of country music’s biggest names.
The problem was that the film toned down the racial issues in Michael’s true story. It only mentioned them vaguely, such as when Sean confesses he’s surprised to have an African-American son and when a teammate teases Michael on the field.
The real racism in Michael’s story was much more difficult to handle. What was true was that Leigh Anne helped him through all of them. She always told the bullies and bigots to mind their business.
The right to access school records applies only to legal guardians or those with power of attorney. A scene in The Blind Side seems to have forgotten that.
Leigh Ann is able to access all of Michael’s school records from Wingate Christian School before she’s legally adopted him. The social worker there hands them over with no issues. This would never happen in any real school, especially not today when confidentiality of private records is more important than ever.
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How the Film Affected His Career
Michael could create a large list of struggles with specific, small aspects of The Blind Side. A more important issue for him was the impact it had on the football career he’d worked so hard for.
Michael had a short but successful football run. He won the 2013 Super Bowl as a starter for the Ravens and played in another Super Bowl in 2016. He even came in second for the Associated Press’s voting for Rookie of the Year.
Michael earned $35 million throughout his career. He stayed in the NFL for 8 years until being let go by the Carolina Panthers due to post-concussion syndrome.
He said that The Blind Side continued to overshadow him until the end of his career. It downgraded him and kept the world from seeing his skills because they made assumptions about him based on it. That was the most important reason he didn’t like it and is the first one he’ll mention in any interviews about it.
Responses to the Criticism
Michael gained a family through football and friends through The Blind Side. He and the Tuhoy family still stay in touch with Sandrah Bullock, and she’s attended a few of his games.
Quinton Aaron played Michael Oher in The Blind Side. He’d only worked as a bodyguard before but was chosen primarily because he and the football star had a similar build.
Quinton supports Michael, but he hasn’t kept stayed on the sidelines like the other stars. He’s offered his own response to what the former lineman has to say about the film that made both of them famous.
He encourages Michael to focus on the positive effect The Blind Side has had on the world and how it’s inspired others. He also says he should forget about what others say to criticize him or how it affected his career.
Quinton reminded Michael that he ended up a famous millionaire Super Bowl champion with loving family, friends, and teammates. He also said that he supports him and wants to help him focus on the future.
Quinton’s words aren’t wrong, but he needs to remember one important thing. The fictionalized version he played in the film is different from the real Michael who doesn’t need to be more like the idealized, inspirational version that Quinton played.
No matter what, Michael has a right to have issues with the silver-screen story of his life. It’ll always follow him, even if a more accurate remake gets created in the future. Hopefully, this video and his book can clear up a few of the mistakes and show him for who he truly is.
What’s your favorite inspirational sports drama? Let us know in the comments below.