Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Michael Oher made headlines yesterday for what he said after getting into a fight with defensive end Kony Ealy at practice.
“I’m not trying to prove anything,” Oher told ESPN. “People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie. They don’t really see the skills and the kind of player I am. That’s why I get downgraded so much, because of something off the field.
“This stuff, calling me a bust, people saying if I can play or not … that has nothing to do with football. It’s something else off the field. That’s why I don’t like that movie.”
The movie that Oher is referring to, of course, is “The Blind Side,” which was based on his childhood as the son of a crack-addicted mother who was adopted by an affluent family.
“The Blind Side” was a box office hit, grossing $300 million in theaters and Sandra Bullock earned an Academy Award win for Best Actress.
Oher, who was drafted in the first round in 2009 by the Baltimore Ravens, has never lived up to the hype. Despite this, he has been able to sign contracts for much more than his value. Last year, Oher inked a five-year $20 million deal with the Tennessee Titans despite being ranked 68th out of 78 qualified offensive tackles on Pro Football Focus.
Tennessee immediately regretted the signing and released him just after one dismal year where he again finished as one of the league’s worst offensive tackles.
Even though he was awful last season, Oher still landed a good contract, signing a two-year $7 million contract with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have since handed him the left tackle job.
Oher wasted no time burning his bridges with Tennessee.
“I’m excited to be joining an organization that knows how to win. They’ve won the past two division championships, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Oher said on the Panthers team website. “When I came here on a visit, the culture was great. They’re very into winning and doing everything possible to win.”
While he does not directly name the Titans, it was clear his quote was directed toward Tennessee, who went 2-14 last year.
Oher, however, is not entirely wrong. Due to his fame from the film, he does get more attention (and opportunities) than any other offensive tackle of his caliber in the NFL. It could even be argued that he was targeted early in his career because of the film, but at this point, NFL players aren’t going to care (and given how bad he has been, it isn’t like they need some extra motivation when facing him).
What Oher has shown this offseason is that he is an immature player who can’t take responsibility for his actions. His career has not gone as well as planned – and that’s perfectly OK – but instead of keeping quiet and focus on improving, he pushes the blame every time he talks to the media.
Regardless of how he feels about the film, at the end of the day, it has been more helpful for him than anything else. He obtained immediate fame at a position where casual fans would never know who he is, he made more money than he should have and have been given many more opportunities than other players who were selected in a similar position in the draft and have struggled (his former teammate, Peria Jerry, who was drafted right after him by Atlanta, has not played in the NFL since 2013). Oher is wrong for blaming “The Blind Side” for his struggles and looks petty for doing so.