I'm sure you all know the story of former Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher, who went from 'rags to riches' from the ghettos of Memphis, Tenn. His story was quite extraordinary, as he was the subject of Michael Lewis' book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which was turned into a movie three years later. However, the saying "all press is good press" hasn't exactly rang true for Oher. As Oher revealed today to ESPN Panthers Writer David Newton:
"I'm not trying to prove anything. 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.''- Michael Oher
This all makes pretty good sense, as you'd expect the kid who rose from terrible poverty and an alcoholic mother to be somewhat shy and critical of his movie portrayal that "packaged him as a folk hero capable of football wizardry", as Bleacher Report's Dan Carson said.
While the movie, The Blind Side, which grossed over $300 million was a "feel good" film and "based on a true story", it still left unreasonable expectations on Michael.
Oher has noticed all of the attention too, despite being an offensive lineman, typically one of the 'unappreciated' positions in the league.
"Offensive linemen don't get looked at. Nobody is paying attention to the offensive line. But me? I'm getting watched for everything.
While Oher's play has never been stellar, it certainly hasn't been that bad either. In his rookie year, after being selected with the 23rd pick by the Ravens, Oher started all 16 games, at both left and right tackle, and finished second in the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2009.
However, his next few seasons weren't exactly great, as he was shuffled all over the offensive line. In 2012, he started all of the regular season at left tackle and received a -11.5 grade from Pro Football Focus, the fourth-worst score among all left tackles with at least 10 games played at that position. There was some hope however, as he was moved to right tackle for the playoffs, and posted the third best PFF grade among playoff right tackles.
In the 2014 offseason, Oher moved to Nashville, signing with the Titans, where he started 11 games before being placed on IR. PFF graded him as the 74th best tackle out of 78 for the 2014 season. He was promptly released.
The Panthers decided to pick him up, as GM Dave Gettleman said "We did our homework on Michael, and we feel very strongly that he can be an answer for us." The team plans to insert him at LT, many have their doubts however, as Oher has given up 93 pressures across his last 27 starts.
While it's sad to see the downfall of such a once promising prospect, one can only hope that Oher will learn to deal with the adversity that is 'The Blind Side' movie, and put it to the side. All eyes are on Oher, and it's his time to show his true colors, the reason the Ravens drafted him.