Michael Oher gives negative review to effect 'The Blind Side' has had

ByDavid Newton ESPN logo
Thursday, June 18, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- "The Blind Side'' may have been a box office hit, but the player it was about has been blindsided by its effect on his NFL career.

Carolina Panthers left tackle Michael Oher said Wednesday the 2009 movie about his life has taken away from what he does as a player.

The subject came up when Oher was asked if a minicamp scrape between him and defensive end Kony Ealy showed he has to prove his worth after struggling the past two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.

"I'm not trying to prove anything,'' Oher said. "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 grossed more than $300 million. Actress Sandra Bullock won an Oscar and a Golden Globe award for her performance as the well-to-do white mother in Memphis, Tennessee, who took in the homeless black teenager, a storyline that depicted Oher's life.

The movie details how Bullock's character got Oher into football and ultimately Ole Miss, where he became an All-America left tackle and a first-round draft pick (23rd overall) by the Ravens in 2009.

"That's taken away from my football,'' Oher said. "That's why people criticize me. That's why people look at me every single play.''

Oher helped Baltimore win the Super Bowl in 2012 as its starting left tackle. (At media day ahead of the game, he also spoke out against "The Blind Side," saying, "I'm tired of the movie. I'm here to play football.")

He wasn't re-signed after struggling in 2013, given a minus-17.1 grade by Pro Football Focus.

Oher signed a five-year, $20 million deal with the Tennessee Titans in 2014, but was released during the offseason after battling a toe injury that limited him to 11 games at right tackle.

The Panthers signed Oher to a two-year, $7 million deal to protect the blind side of quarterback Cam Newton. They believe reuniting Oher with former Baltimore offensive line coach John Matsko and surgery that repaired the toe will revive his career.

Coach Ron Rivera and tight end Greg Olsen recently have talked about how impressive Oher's presence has been at the position.

And although he doesn't like fighting, Rivera appreciated that "there was a standoff'' as players battled humid temperatures in the low 90s.

"Kony is a young guy who is learning and trying to learn how to cope,'' Rivera said. "Michael is a veteran guy. It's kind of the young bear poking the older bear.

"I was disappointed. The heat, the fatigue or what have you, there's no place for [fighting]. I talked to both guys privately and just made sure they understood how I felt about it.''

The scuffle probably got more attention because Oher was involved.

"Offensive linemen don't get looked at,'' Oher said. "Nobody is paying attention to the offensive line. But me? I'm getting watched for everything. I know what type of player I am. Everybody else that I know knows what type of player I am. So that kind of stuff doesn't worry me.''

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