Friday, August 7, 2015

Protecting the Blind Side

OT Michael Oher (#73)
New Panther Michael Oher
Oher as a Raven
Most people know or remember Michael Oher through his portrayal by actor Quinton Aaron in the Academy-award winning film The Blind Side in 2009.  However, Michael Oher wants his coaches, teammates, and fans to know him by his excellent play on the football field.  He was a first-team college All American at Ole Miss in 2008, and drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens, where he spent five seasons and won a Super Bowl. After a disappointing year with the Tennessee Titans, the Panthers signed him to a two-year contract and gave him the starting Left Tackle position formerly held by Byron Bell.

General Manager Dave Gettleman and the rest of the Panthers front office and staff see a huge potential for Oher.  Gettleman said, "We feel very strongly that he can be an answer for us."  It appears that the team has acquired quite a gift that shores up a huge gap left by the departure of Bell.   Most of the other offensive linemen are returners, including longtime veteran C Ryan Kalil.   While some feel this to be a weak spot on the team, it appears that the returners have chemistry, and also welcome the addition of the 6'4" 315 lb. Oher to the lineup.  In addition to him, the Panthers also traded up to acquire tackle Daryl Williams from Oklahoma in the 4th round of the draft.

Michael Oher and his 'mom'
Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side"
Oher's life story was chosen and adapted from a book called Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (2006).  When asked about the movie, which starred actress Sandra Bullock as his adopted mother Leigh Ann Tuohy , Oher says it's not one of his favorites, and he rarely watches it, although its reruns are broadcast periodically.  It portrayed him as a gifted athlete, growing up in poverty, who was quite inept as a student.  True-- his GPA was once 0.76 and caused the NCAA to investigate his potential enrollment at Mississippi, but by the end of his senior year, he had raised it to a respectable 2.52.  Although he is positive about the effects the film has had on underprivileged youth across the country, he downplays the exaggerated stereotype of his character.

Michael Oher will be out to get his career back on track, being on his third team in three years, having been cut by both Baltimore and Tennessee.  His job will be to duplicate his character's movie role, when he protects QB Cam Newton's blind side during each game. The Panthers are betting on him to come through for them in a big way.  Hopefully, that will result in a low sack total and a successful season for the Carolina Panthers.

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