When I first came on board with the Texans in April 2014, I did a podcast with Drew Dougherty talking about a number of different things. We floated from one topic to the next like a pair of excited youngsters all hopped up on Pixy Sticks and Fun Dip. At some point, the topic of sports movies, one in particular, popped up.
Friday Night Lights.
Drew asked my opinion on it and I sort of danced around my feelings, because I didn't like it at all but didn't want to overstep my boundaries. Finally, I told Drew that I needed to be honest and that I didn't like it. I gave him the reasons why and I thought he would tear me to shreds. He didn't because he felt nearly the same way. We agreed that if Hollywood had just told the real story instead of the Hollywood version, FNL would've been, could've been, a great movie.
Well, we put FNL to the test last spring in our Houston Texans movie bracket, which we ran in conjunction with the 2015 NCAA basketball tournament. 'Remember the Titans' took home the title, as Friday Night Lights didn't even make the tournament bracket.
Next spring, we'll have three football movies, each one has or will debut this fall, to consider for inclusion in the 2016 Houston Texans movie bracket.
'Woodlawn' debuted in theaters in mid-October. It's based on the 1973 Woodlawn high school football team led by former Alabama and Miami Dolphins star running back Tony Nathan. The Deep South was undergoing a period of significant social, spiritual and racial change and football sat at the heart of it. Nathan was the star of a team that experienced a "spiritual awakening" that led to a game that featured the largest crowd in Birmingham, AL high school football history. 'Rudy' star Sean Astin, Rudy himself, is featured in the movie, along with Jon Voight who played Paul 'Bear' Bryant, the coach that recruited Nathan to Alabama.
Today, 'Carter High' hits theaters and tells the story of the mercurial 1988 Dallas Carter state championship team. You know, THE team that eliminated Permian from the 1988 playoffs, captured in Buzz Bissinger's famed Friday Night Lights book. Former Dallas Cowboys star Greg Ellis was the executive producer of the movie and said seeing the project all the way to completion was the most difficult thing he'd ever done.
Former Katy high school All-State running back Aundre Dean plays one of the film's central characters - Derric Evans. The brash and cocky Evans had signed his letter of intent to attend Tennessee from a jacuzzi, wearing a bicycling suit and a Mr. T jewelry starter kit. He also was one of a handful of players sent to jail for armed robbery after beating Permian and Converse Judson for the 1988 state championship. 'Carter High' tells the anti-Friday Night Lights story in Hollywood form.
Then, there's the story of Freddie Steinmark and the movie that depicts his gut-wrenching battle with cancer at the University of Texas in 1969. The movie is titled 'My All American' and will be released on November 13. Steinmark played defensive back at the University of Texas for its 1969 national championship team. A few days after his Texas team beat Arkansas in the Game of the Century, X-rays revealed a malignant bone tumor above his left knee. Days later, his left leg was amputated. An iconic picture of Steinmark still resonates of him standing with crutches on the Cotton Bowl sidelines a month later watching his teammates defeat Notre Dame. Unfortunately, he lost his battle with cancer less than two years from that win over Arkansas in June 1971.
I can't wait to see whether these three make the bracket for next year, but what movies will get bumped in their place? That's a debate for another day, my dear Texans fans.