Ever wondered what it is about football that makes us love it so much? It rivals baseball for our national affections. We spend hours a week in the fall either throwing a football, watching the TV, or getting out under those Friday Night Lights to watch those we love grind it out. Why?
Brian Grazer and the crew who developed the TV series Friday Night Lights have given us a new lens into the phenomenon. I cannot recommend this series highly enough. In fact, the season finale was nominated for an Emmy! I don’t recommend you watch all of it, because that is a lot of time, unless you do it in community and talk about each show w/your friends. Stories are equipment for living, not a replacement for real life. They are meant to inform action, not replace it.
Now, if you are planning on watching the entire series, I’ll be showing some scenes from the ending of the show… but it’s worth the spoiler. The last few scenes of the entire show give us a clue as to why football is so important to us. Take a look at the denouement here (after the last commercial break), and keep an eye out for what seems to be important to the show creators.
What in the world? Why didn’t they show the catch on the final hail mary? Could it be that Grazer thinks some part of these people’s stories is more important than what happens on the field, or at least equally important?
In a word, yes. Coach Taylor is constantly teaching character. And the ultimate tests of character take place when no one is watching, not on the field where many are watching. Behind closed doors, Coach Taylor has been arguing with his wife Tammy about moving above the Mason-Dixon line to follow her professional dreams. And in private, he decides that his moral fiber requires that he sacrifice his ambitions as a coach to serve his wife, and help her achieve her dreams. The other story-lines take similar tacks with dynamic (versus static) characters realizing that to do great things in life they must risk greatly, and sacrifice greatly for their families and communities. In the end, the character that is developed on the field is the point… NOT winning or losing, or the glory of a State Championship ring.
I love the understated way Grazer lets us know that they won. Focusing in on the rings as we see each character in his or her new setting. I particularly love Jess’s turn of story, and that of Tim Riggins. Remember, Riggins fell from glory. His highest achievement in life was his state championship, yet he seems to be recognizing after returning from prison that there is more to life than football, and glory, and fame. He wants a simple life, working hard on the land that was purchased at such a dear price by him and his brother, raising a family, and hopefully marrying Tara… if their dreams cross some day.
Kudos to the writers, and Mr. Grazer for re-telling a classic story in a new way that gives us better “equipment for living”. I hope you all find this story as inspirational as I do.
And take a moment to check out my “music video” with scenes from the show’s last season as well as music by The National featured in the episode “Keep Looking”. Texas Forever! Clear eyes. Full hearts. Never lose! Walk Away Music Video (plays in YouTube)