Little-Known Facts About The Blind Side 10 Years Later

By Jake Schroeder
A0kkzkvfldxw0s5wqtg8kzz2k5q9rezmvxryc8qsrtcj1mnhffvuumh8q J51elmqjltp0viupzkwq4mphusjsc7tzenirtamh8dugpjjsfegidkxlacyioc3tg5 23f8ohreqbmtorvdc83wg
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

In November 2009, John Lee Hancock's The Blind Side took audiences by storm. Based on the story of Michael Oher, the movie shows viewers how a once homeless young man became an All-American first-round draft pick in the NFL.

The caring and loving Tuohy family takes him in and are instrumental in helping him achieve success. Audiences loved the story, and the film soared to the top of the box office in no time. Ten years later, it's worth revisiting this exceptional film to uncover the hidden truths you might not know.

Advertisement

The Real Collins Tuohy

Portrayed by Lily Collins in the film, the real Collins Tuohy completely shuffled around her class schedules and dropped out of many of her advanced placement classes in order to share more classes with Michael Oher. As a straight A student, that was quite a large commitment for her.

Untitled Design 2019 12 18t165906.872
Photo Courtesy: @SportsBizMiss/Twitter

Ultimately, it was Collins Tuohy's selfless dedication to helping Michael Oher graduate that allowed him to have a chance at college and the NFL. Despite his immense talent on the football field, Oher needed good grades, and Collins Tuohy took it upon herself to help him make it happen.

Casting Leigh Anne Tuohy

Sandra Bullock absolutely made The Blind Side's leading role her own, but — believe it or not — she wasn't even the filmmakers' first choice for the part. In fact, the lead was offered to Julia Roberts long before Bullock was considered. When Roberts turned it down, Bullock came next.

622ok4pssoduatxoxaje Uyjpeltjbl898x6ogj0rzscrswdy73qa J8mh9qm6nj310del3vsmeilbhuvfzrgionenypthqkbtvsl7yc4lgi3argfrczovhdblns8f4 Idopefccugie6m02ca
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

The rockiness didn't stop there. During the first weeks of shooting, Bullock thought she was doing a horrible job. Director John Lee Hancock did his best to encourage her, resulting in her sticking with the role — and eventually winning an Academy Award.

Casting Michael Oher

The Blind Side tells the inspiring rags-to-riches story of a nobody-turned-football star, and there's a surprising parallel that occurred behind the scenes. Before Quinton Aaron was cast in the leading role, he was working as a security guard.

Pbvqbkrxlnkz Fmycbrt3lk0xctjt4bwtgbpxejnzeq6liiniqu055aj6mfy8besxwca3vkqqmdeatnnnkgcpemly7qbcyikk9vfd7ishnmynwpaaq9lnq0p5tyxvl2mi9nma2tlohdaeoiwlg
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

After his audition, he was convinced he didn't land the part. Discouraged, he handed his business card to the crew in an attempt to get hired as a security guard instead. Of course, Aaron had actually nailed the audition and landed the part from the moment the crew saw him. His success somewhat mirrored Michael Oher's rise to fame.

Advertisement

Scaling Back Collins' Talents

In the film, Collins Tuohy is portrayed as a teen of many talents. Depicted as a highly skilled volleyball player for her school's team as well as a star cheerleader on the sidelines, Tuohy was also an award-winning pole vaulter. She even managed to make it to the state championship.

Screen Shot 2019 12 18 At 5.13.17 Pm
Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

The film doesn't waste the opportunity to show the real Collins as an Ole Miss cheerleader during the closing credits, but her status as a champion pole vaulter is something that not even the end crawl revealed. Apparently, it just didn't fit in the script.

The Miracle of Taco Bell

Because The Blind Side is based off a book by the same name, there are all kinds of little details that couldn't be used in the final draft of the screenplay. Still, Hancock wanted to include some Easter eggs from the book as a nod to readers.

800px Taco Bell Night
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

One such scene occurs when the Tuohys are on their way home from S.J.'s play. Sean says that quesadillas saved the family from financial problems, which is a reference to the fact that Sean's many Taco Bell franchises were struggling until the company introduced quesadillas. Sales skyrocketed.

Making Sacrifices

While audiences view them simply as art or entertainment, a feature film is really quite a gamble for producers. After investing so much money and providing so many resources to get the film made, it's important for them to see a return on their investment.

Ocuvtrcf4wdghbibwzlipxs1qgir3wx Ulnnm6xolt13h4qzs7rueraguow1bijc Wmxqkjbdchtm Snllvg0g4otf6z9tvonvzzh34of3e1wguvmo8ss3guthijsf4cizfj 9sqa5kbuutvug
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

As the film's lead, Sandra Bullock was so committed to the role that she was willing to take a significant pay cut in order to get the movie into production. In exchange for less money up front, the actress (wisely) opted for a percentage of the film's profits.

Advertisement

The Sports Drama's Legacy

No one can truly anticipate just how successful a movie will be when it's released. Sure, the production companies can compare their ideas to other movies within the genre and make educated estimates, but the true numbers are never known until after opening weekend.

3vquwoojv2mkt 07l82sw5smizrsewh6pnrjvsopwpdpa Mob 8jlame9sri Nvdtg Sf8azad3nfbrcvhnbg D Ii1aew Abc1xgxtejh7kxncbmjkgbrchj6lq9idfp1kfafqk9t6awcw24q
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

As evidenced by The Blind Side, some films completely go above and beyond what's expected of them. To this day, Michael Oher's inspiring story remains the highest-grossing American sports drama ever made, with a worldwide total of more than $300 million. No other U.S. sports-based film even comes close.

Other Financial Firsts

One way to guarantee audience members will show up to watch a particular film is to fill the cast with familiar faces. However, due to budget constraints or the nature of the script, sometimes only one famous face is cast.

Untitled Design 2019 12 18t172107.054
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb and @BelisarioSophia/Twitter

In addition to The Blind Side's record-breaking box office success, the film also achieved another huge financial milestone. Because Sandra Bullock is the only actor whose name is listed on the poster, it became the first film with only a single actress's name on the poster to gross more than $200 million at the box office.

Collins' CEO Connection

Another little nugget of information that director John Lee Hancock included in the film for readers of the book comes after Collins Tuohy's volleyball scene. Speaking to her mother, Collins says that she's going over to Cannon's house to study.

Untitled Design 2019 12 18t172546.921
Photo Courtesy: Tomás Del Coro/Flickr

According to the book, Collins Tuohy was dating — and is now married to — a young man named Cannon Smith. As it turns out, Cannon Smith is the son of Frederick W. Smith. In other words, Collins dated and married the son of the founder, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of FedEx.

Advertisement

Preparing for the Role

Playing a star football player is no easy task. It's not something that just comes naturally, especially for someone who has never seriously played the sport before. This is a simple truth that actor Quinton Aaron came to know all too well.

Mp0jiggaxa G54x7pd4onucvmwihixkswdl80s Dp Rdp1p01bmuv C1lad2aa6dnfgxr481oiq0zmbxprikrfjamu23qed9hdieyf8urq2nyjejbqu5ebaqjelx8g5aoqjmise5c5o Zvbu8w
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

In order to fill the (very big) shoes of a soon-to-be-professional football player, Aaron had to practice with the Georgia Tech football team during the college's spring training in 2009. Luckily for Aaron, it seems his hard work paid off. To the untrained eye, his portrayal of Oher really looks like the real deal.

The University of Tennessee and the FBI

One of the film's most memorable characters is Kathy Bates as Miss Sue, a key figure in Michael Oher's academic career. When Oher is talking to her about the University of Tennessee's different degree programs, she lies to him about some of the darker aspects of the criminal justice program. One element rings true, however.

Ft 3odbrpigvoznx Dkvnwskdpuweutlexps1 Idyqazxqdmov3ib7bqhlvvxnbt6xsugjzcv95ktcw5q0cepxcpg1tglovpo4qwupu12trklnqb7vszdvidtms4tc7pm1auji Lgwiwlepy7a
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

Thanks to William Bass, founder of the Bass Anthropological Research Facility (or BARF), the University of Tennessee helps the FBI study the different stages of decomposition in the human body in a plethora of different situations. If you don’t think BARF is ironic enough, the facility is also called "the body farm."

Sandra Bullock's Hot Streak

When The Blind Side was released in the fall of 2009, it gave Sandra Bullock her highest-grossing opening weekend by a longshot: $34,119,372 in the United States alone. Ironically, she continuously broke that record in the years to come.

G5ctwr9qkslsa1fahi8og3nsqyug 5q50warnb Ztf10f5n1myhqnexkmmlm8wysogb8ms5v6m2 45uhzslioziraoumcdx4 Vtzfqkpt9ffuspzemdkbprk4xzlss11u3 Nem L Ywijnmlqa
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

In 2013, Bullock's film The Heat surpassed The Blind Side's opening weekend, with $39,115,043 in ticket sales. Just a few months later, her film Gravity surpassed The Heat's opening with $55,785,112. Two years later, Minions — Bullock voiced Scarlett Overkill — blew them all out of the water with a whopping $115,718,405 on opening weekend.

Advertisement

Lawrence Taylor and Joe Theismann

In The Blind Side's opening monologue, delivered by Sandra Bullock speaking as Leigh Anne Tuohy, the audience hears about one of the most monumental sports injuries in the history of the NFL — the infamous hit between Lawrence Taylor and Joe Theismann in November 1985.

Bd6a Wzbf7e Fhoutt4hf1rxdktvuol57igsllukaxoksyvj8fvejul3aig98eman946 Is4kery Gpzgadvvuukot8zaui5qw4ru9wesljx7o1jmm5fcbujlnuopxjdsx0a64cov3zlqmy1g
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

In real life, this injury was the NFL's most gruesome to ever air on television during a regular season game. Taylor waves urgently for help almost immediately after, proving just how traumatic the injury must have been for him. To this day, Taylor claims he never wants to see a replay.

Oher's Professional Career

Because the movie was released in 2009, and Michael Oher's professional career with the NFL continued until 2016, there's obviously a lot the film didn’t cover. For instance, the movie just barely touches on his time with the Baltimore Ravens, which began around the time The Blind Side hit theaters.

Untitled Design 2019 12 18t173103.475
Photo Courtesy: The National Guard/Flickr

In the years that followed, Oher stuck with the Ravens, and they eventually made it all the way to Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers. Oher and the Ravens won, earning the star player his very first Super Bowl ring.

Meeting Michael's Match

Despite his many issues with the way he and his story were portrayed in John Lee Hancock's film, Michael Oher took it upon himself to visit the set of the film during the early days of production. Who knows? Maybe he hoped to set them straight.

Uoc5an78gkxvo0ez3ecln3ocush67etbvqpxns8ozhraqnesgqxhe8gss0jjqgcx H 0jccuahnvwuswwx Ymynkvejypzbenecpdkbjigxwgbt8gzg79bdumnhbqpra8izrbakkv1blid4vcg
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

However strange it might have been, Oher had to meet the actors who would be playing him and his parents — namely, Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. The four got along well, with Aaron and Oher being especially happy to meet on set that day.

Advertisement

Educational Inaccuracies

Surprisingly, Michael Oher wasn't the only one who had a problem with John Lee Hancock's script. In addition to Oher's objections regarding the way his educational career was portrayed, the actual school he was attending took the film to task as well.

Aqyrgqsusvl Ekec1wwhfkjx4jlhfhz Kd1ic2hg 94xelmla7hif0frvfylt8wvr3t6a0 6ffuufoza0cbeq Nivnz1g0tow3soqmt5fdczobly Iaw1gikqzrs431gvrlhnl6wn7ou9quda
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

After reading the screenplay, Briarcrest Christian High School — the school where Oher earned his diploma — refused to allow their name or their school to be used in the film because of its many misconceptions. Still, the filmmakers and the crew decided to use BCHS's school color, green, as their fictional high school's color.

The Real Michael Oher's Reaction

When making a movie about people who actually exist, there's a delicate balance the crew must maintain. It’s important to portray the subjects accurately while also making them engaging enough for audiences to care about them.

M7rsxicwtrek4vmbivabhhhjiqjzvry4zx004qjtdxegyl7jq1mqq Uacvjhxzoxuplik9p2z3dnv6608bgatuqcow3lz8g3qblyryrwlez7rs Hhe1xdjwv0dbvmcoxckrvmqngkdhcmfdfag
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

The real Michael Oher wasn’t very happy with the "balance" created by Hancock and the crew. He felt the movie's take on his life was too simple and kind of insulting. He claimed he was always good at football, unlike the filmmakers’ decision to make him a hapless student who had to learn to play football alongside his studies.

College Football Cameos

Considering it's a movie about football, it makes sense that the filmmakers leapt at the opportunity to include a bunch of real-life football coaches throughout the film. This is a pretty common phenomenon, and it's a fun way to honor the actual pros who help make these stories happen.

Tbvwtrryx0qjq57cr8rzchzp Rrz8swlko95xakcqvvwbhgn9bg9sl1g8ighcnx1gywzpgzjx3zz7nd2tbjbixjdikbu3hoqnpxdjrq2y7eawvomqddsjxj Ithdmmchlovzzdewwxoec Y Wq
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

Of the many cameos, some of the most notable include Tommy Tuberville of Auburn, Nick Saban of Alabama, Ed Orgeron of Ole Miss, Houston Nutt of Arkansas, Lou Holtz of South Carolina and Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee. John Lee Hancock really pulled out all the stops.

Advertisement

The Cast's Musical Roots

Even though The Blind Side is a movie about football, the film actually has an incredibly musical underbelly. Two of its main cast members — both playing members of the Tuohy family — are a musician and a direct descendant of a musician.

Untitled Design 2019 12 18t173954.964
Photo Courtesy: Todd Williamson/Getty Images For Relativity Media

First, viewers might have missed it because of the fresh-shaved face and the missing cowboy hat, but Sean Tuohy is played by country music legend Tim McGraw. Despite being a household name in music for decades, McGraw has only occasionally worked in film or TV since 2004. The other musical member is Lily Collins, who is the daughter of British pop-rock artist Phil Collins.

The Cast's Southern Roots

Playing a southern couple wasn't too much of a stretch for Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. The two both have very strong connections to the American South. Bullock's father was born and raised in Alabama, and she was born in Virginia. She went on to be a cheerleader in high school, dated a football player and went to college in North Carolina.

D2g2hadygaq4zet3zwcgwobt1 Ddsoilcaxnez6q54zvg0 Eg4thnp9ch5qwxdos0so7rb6lvvhdxvdt0zedfrvmpl7sh42lhwlz0go4br0itrmyi8cllue3cmconjdyqggsjiuy 6ajrlxvbq
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

As for McGraw, he spent his first 20 years or so within the boundaries of Louisiana. Born, raised and educated all the way through college in the state, McGraw is a true Louisianan who happens to reside in Tennessee.

Literary Allusions

When Michael Oher is preparing for college with Miss Sue, she gives him a list of materials he needs to read. The literary texts she assigns aren't completely meaningless. In fact, they allude to the trajectory of Michael's life.

Ttot7y Fqly5thwp6v5swav9btdylgimbnozsolbjrwvhgk6z9xdh4uhlgorixk8a0rzybsyzxe Gyupx3axk Ktvmmofisvihbzeyt9dm8mxk1gzto Yzsg7oue4wuuaoglltdv Lvxloc6q
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

The three most notable examples of this are A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw — all novels about a protagonist who goes through a huge transformation and becomes a better person. The last two specifically deal with rags-to-riches narratives, much like Michael Oher's.

Advertisement

Michael Oher's High School Coach

In addition to the whole slew of college football coaches who make cameos in the film, there's one coach with a very specific, personal connection to Michael Oher who makes an appearance. His former Briarcrest Christian High School football coach, Hugh Freeze, makes a brief appearance as an Arkansas assistant coach watching film behind Houston Nutt.

Screen Shot 2019 12 18 At 5.52.20 Pm
Photo Courtesy: ESPN/YouTube

Later in the film, he is referenced by an NCAA investigator as someone who recently took a job at Ole Miss. Freeze continued to coach at Ole Miss until 2017 when a recruiting scandal forced him to resign.

Artistic Allusions

Like the literary allusions made by Miss Sue while Michael Oher is preparing for college, director John Lee Hancock took the opportunity to include one very specific artistic allusion during the key Thanksgiving scene in the film. As the phrase goes, art imitates life. In this instance, art seemingly imitates art.

Bvez9ypwlbxnsv4xmk9v5dd T114 Zmcuss66bd7z484ajsee0bdye2ypve3o8kal6vqtrmil0g L6d10jmj Mfxmourlore5wkcqz3vd5jmwmbmz2wsrlu0bzkue Zctzsy8ypg5ykkfnde3q
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

As Leigh Anne Tuohy is setting the table for the Thanksgiving meal, she sets the turkey in front of Tim McGraw's character, Sean. For a moment, the family gathered around the table with Leigh Anne arranging the turkey mirrors a very famous Norman Rockwell painting.

The End of Oher's Career

Unfortunately, it seems Michael Oher's career as a professional football player came to an end just shy of the film's 10-year anniversary. Considering he hasn't been a member of a professional team since 2016, it's safe to assume Oher is done playing football.

Ykh1gddcgftwxhw2aayyjomb0cdiuvifwelionrr63zakvwq Cdgs2dsdgfgkcczkenpfjey7zowhgoo2yr0swnklmgz95pdulgd7wn19lbqhq72ya1r4hait Hcbuxwuqlrjofck5sajjpwwq
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

Tragically, almost seven years to the day The Blind Side was released, Michael Oher suffered a concussion during a professional football game in late November 2016. He was given nine months to recover but still failed his physical before the 2017 season. His current team, the Carolina Panthers, released him at that time.

Advertisement

Later Cast Collaborations

When a movie shoot goes well, it's not uncommon for the cast and crew to work together again in the future. When one actor sees a former collaborator attached to a project being offered to them, it's sometimes a surefire way to get them to sign on.

9qaq8ibb7m0jmsvsxag6gq1 R2dfpdgtgfcsuqkpacb0vs91mkmeij0koui Cm Cdtsg R7mwqia2bsbfgaeb1i6yqqcypsqzyiou7rs7 2m2ak6tq7wekrh7j1mhnr9c1p7cdaj Gvqnv1eaw
Photo Courtesy: Relativity Media/IMDb

This has happened a couple of times with former Blind Side co-stars. For starters, supporting actors Ray McKinnon, Kim Dickens and L. Warren Young all went on to work together on the Footloose remake in 2011, while Lily Collins starred with the movie’s almost-star, Julia Roberts, in Mirror Mirror.

Sean Tuohy After the Film

A film can only show so much, which means that a lot of the extra information gets trimmed in post-production. For films based on true stories, the credits often include a bit of "Where Are They Now?" moments to appease audiences wondering about the real people behind the stories.

M9b Gh16leqxlsqpa Xqnu4cbvjr8biiveog6x40rhcmpt57yj0j7e Gtbtiketavjeprq7ofchp8k1fxvtg7rzcorccpq7gulfjpkxw Xjyfbf2p7htu23461xrukrkqymkrxxjkgp9i9dgqq
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

For The Blind Side, this info is limited to the facts as of 2009. In the wake of the film, former Mississippi basketball icon and real-life patriarch Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw) continued working as a broadcaster for the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team.

Possible Plot Holes

For scripted films, every single choice and every little detail is included for a reason. That's why it's so odd when features have plot holes — little details that slip through the cracks and threaten to derail a scene or even the entire film itself.

Lffvwlwmk4 Npggjundn2tlnimqu Uzzc Xz0 L Cf5qgd1xafssg Mbwhfg176t3rvtjqgce Ms1s0gbp5ovc Gkpl 3k09ekrenfpuqhlixeysh2na7bqc0zopzgfzvre3f1uyvra1orhkq
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

At the start of the film, Michael Oher is shown trying to get into school alongside a close friend of his named Steven. Steven's storyline is quickly dropped entirely, but his father remains an integral part of Michael's story. This hole leaves the audience wondering what happened to Steven and why he disappeared.

Advertisement

Leigh Anne Tuohy After the Film

Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy never failed to keep busy in the decade following The Blind Side's record-breaking run. After all, they would have been foolish not to keep up with the influx of popularity and recognition sent their way by the feature film.

Untitled Design 2019 12 18t175705.978
Photo Courtesy: @AM800News/Twitter

In 2010, Leigh Anne published a bestselling book called In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving and started the Making It Happen Foundation to continue helping underprivileged youth. She then published a second book in 2015 called Turn Around and even earned herself a daytime reality show on the UP network.

S.J. Tuohy After the Film

S.J., also known as Sean Tuohy Jr., is just a young boy when The Blind Side takes place. Ten years after the film — and many more since the events actually occurred — S.J. is now a full-grown adult with a very successful career of his own.

E2oq Zvvivxcpwhp4uepfalz0wqglsg8ybk Bnrizn9ketvplmiruyfopxahqwanwr6alj74 Chu 0tsa78bycrwo2 8k06ijebabxmmt Jgwstxkxhmsfpvkybqqgmmspv1ryty O 6logejg
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

In college, Sean Jr. earned a degree in journalism while also making quite the impression on his school's basketball team. He even broke some records of his own, just like Michael. He went on to play football while pursuing a master's degree, and he now coaches for the Razorbacks.

Collins Tuohy After the Film

Like her brother S.J., Collins earned a degree in journalism in the years following The Blind Side. Like her mother, she makes a living doing speaking tours that promote the values shown in the film — specifically the value of others and the dangers of judgment.

Screen Shot 2019 12 18 At 5.58.36 Pm
Photo Courtesy: Greater Talent Network Speakers Bureau/YouTube

When she isn’t on speaking engagements, Collins is the co-owner and director of marketing and sales at Whimsy Cookie Company in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as a board member for her mother's charity, the Making It Happen Foundation. On top of all this, Collins contributes to her own personal lifestyle blog.

Advertisement