For those who have not seen the movie, Oher an enormous teenager who lived in a series of foster homes after being abandoned by his drug-addicted mother before being adopted by a white family. After an All-American career at the University of Mississippi, he was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens.
Oher plays left tackle, a position that is particularly critical for protecting the team’s quarterback because he cannot see who is coming after him on that side (Hence the book’s title.). His story was first chronicled in-depth by Michael Lewis in his book The Blind Side, an engaging and entertaining work that fans of Moneyball will be sure to enjoy.
As with Moneyball, Lewis begins the book with a question: why did left tackle Jonathan Ogden sign a contract with the Ravens for a salary that was dramatically higher than that of quarterback Trent Dilfer?
The answer, Lewis found, lay in the need to keep quarterbacks life Dilfer safe from the likes of marauding linebackers like Lawrence Taylor and Chris Doleman, both of whom terrorized defenses in the 80s and 90s.
Toward the beginning of the book, Lewis describes the gruesome and unforgettable play in which Taylor broke Washington Redskins’ quarter Joe Theismann’s leg during a sack. After this vignette, he discusses how Doleman wreaked havoc on the Bill Walsh-coached 49ers during a playoff game that Doleman’s Vikings won.
Into this professional backdrop, Lewis introduces Oher.
The book then alternates between the ascending importance of left tackles and the increasing size, speed, strength and skill of men who play that position, with Oher’s heartwarming if slightly paternalistic story.
Oher’s story appears to have a happy ending thus far. In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney hedged when asked if Oher could match Ogden’s accomplishments, but did say that his hard work could take him far.
Readers of The Blind Side will take pleasure in the places Lewis takes them while tracing the related journeys of Oher and the position he plays.