Michael Oher’s story is the subject of the hit 2009 sports film “The Blind Side.” The storyline features Oher, an offensive lineman who played for the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans and currently plays for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL. “Blind Side” follows Oher from his impoverished upbringing, through his adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, portrayed by Sandra Bullock, to his position as one of the most highly coveted prospects in college football, then finally becoming a first-round pick of the Ravens.
And now, Oher has another chance to protect another quarterback’s blindside. And the story of his coming to Carolina and playing in another Super Bowl is as special as his original rags to riches sports saga.
After being cut by the Tennessee Titans, Oher was rehabbing from toe surgery in the offseason when he received a text from Cam Newton. The quarterback has recruited players before, but not this hard. Newton’s brother, Cecil Jr., had played on the practice squad in Baltimore, and he was around Oher every day. They became friends. He knew Oher was talented and professional, and was confident he could protect his brother. Cecil told Cam that Oher would be a key acquisition to the team.
So, as the story goes, Newton texted Oher, and he didn’t just say he wanted him. He said he needed him. When the Panthers signed Oher to a two-year, $7 million deal last March, the move was widely criticized. Oher, 29, appeared to be on the downswing and in a downturn.
But the opposite happened. The unthinkable and un-scriptable happened. Oher got another second chance as he wound up being the only offensive lineman besides center Ryan Kalil to start every game in 2015 for the Panthers, who surrendered just 61 quarterback hits.
Oher said the message from Newton made him feel at home. For the first time in a while, somebody wanted him. He was reunited with offensive line coach John Matsko, his former coach with the Ravens, and quickly bonded with his teammates.
What a story. I mean, really radical redemption comes once for a few of us; for Michael Oher, it came twice. And if you believe in miracles, and I do, then the miraculous that happens on the grassy field is only a fraction of what could and can happen on the glassy field of spiritual life. And that’s why for all of us, repeated, recurring redemption is always readily available.