Although I've only ever read this book and Moneyball, I consider myself a Michael Lewis fan. He's a tremendous story-teller, laying everything out in words and in an order that makes the picture crystal clear (even for people that need to have everything explained as if they were a child). Because of that ability, Michael Lewis books are never about one thing. They just use one thing as an example and to give the whole story heart. In Moneyball, the "heart" of the story was Billy Beane. The heart of this story is Michael Oher.
Some people who have read The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game will tell you that the book is about Michael Oher, now the rookie Offensive Tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. It is and it isn't. It's the story of the Left Tackle position and it's evolution in the NFL during the last 30 years. It's the story of Lawrence Taylor and how he changed the game of football forever, not just by creating a new position (OLB/DE) and not just by how defenses still try to emulate him and that Giants defense but how offenses and offensive linemen changed to try and defeat players like LT and the defenses that the Bears and the Giants created.
The completion of the book report is after the jump.
It's the story of Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense, and how it was changed by Lawrence Taylor. Walsh was the first to realize that the Left Tackle position needed to be played by someone that stood out from the other offensive linemen. Since that position is typically taking on the defense's best pass rusher, the Left Tackle needs to be a player that can match the best pass rushers in the league in size, strength, speed and agility. He also needs to do it while moving backwards. In summary, it takes a player that is so freakishly gifted physically that he stands out on an NFL team as being freakishly gifted physically. It takes a player like Warren Sapp or Jonathan Ogden or Orlando Pace, who can all be 350 lbs and as nimble as ballerinas.
Don't get me wrong, the Michael Oher story is a great one. A kid who was basically homeless, who was brought to the attention of a wealthy businessman and high school coach, who became the adopted son of an upper class white family. From working through unusual obstacles (like when they thought he was mentally handicapped) and unusual circumstances (like when they couldn't find any record of Michael Oher existing at the DMV), the young boy's story is heartwarming and entertaining all the way through. But again, don't be fooled into thinking this book is just his story. It's wonderful to read of the genius of Bill Walsh, who always seemed to be years ahead of everyone else, and it's mind-blowing to see the effect a player like Lawrence Taylor still has on the game more than a decade after retiring. They stories of Steve Wallace and Jonathan Ogden are short, but just as much fun to experience.
In this book, Michael Lewis is taking the reader on a journey through time. You get to experience major events that went seemingly unnoticed when they occurred, learn how the kindness of strangers can change a life and get to watch as the NFL's offensive lines change drastically with almost nobody noticing. It's a great book that's just as entertaining if you don't know anything about football at all.
So when they're releasing The Blind Side movie (starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw), and it's just the story of Michael Oher, don't be deterred. Pick up the book! Once you know where the game was and how it got to where it is today, you'll know more about everything that happens on the field. From players like Shawne Merriman and Marcus McNeil, you'll have real-world examples of the types of player that didn't exist years ago. It's interesting to know why they're hear and why everybody wants players similar to them on their team. I actually think this book is better represented by the subtitled "Evolution of a Game" than by the title itself. In plain English, this is an entertaining football book that will help to tide you over while you wait out these last few weeks before training camp starts.