NEW ORLEANS — Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher is a foundation of an offense that led the way to the franchise's first trip to the Super Bowl since 2000.
That, however, is not Oher's true claim to fame. A majority of football's casual fans primarily know Oher as the subject of "The Blind Side," Michael Lewis' best-selling book turned hit movie, in which the young man's rags-to-riches story and adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy is told.
The book and subsequent movie took America by storm, but Oher has never been happy about the inaccuracies of the movie, and when Super Bowl media day came around on Tuesday, Oher knew that the questions about his cinematic past would be coming from everywhere.
Put simply, he would just like to move on to other important things.
You know, like his first Super Bowl appearance.
“I’m tired of the movie. I’m here to play football,” Oher said early during his media session on the floor of the Superdome. "Football is what got me here and the movie, it wasn’t me. I always knew how to play football growing up. It was different personalities, stuff like that. Playing football is what got me to this point.”
Not the real Michael Oher. (AP)The effort he put into becoming a first-round draft pick out of Ole Miss in 2009 has been a point of contention in Oher's mind ever since the movie's debut. In the film, he is portrayed as an oversized kid who happened onto football as a way out of his life in the inner city, and while football did prove to be his golden ticket, the subsequent assumption that he was some sort of monosyllabic football savant hasn't gone over well.
Maybe Oher can talk to former Oakland A's manager Art Howe, who was similarly displeased with how he was portrayed when "Moneyball" became a movie.
Oher says he has only seen his life story once on the big screen, but acquiesced when Ravens coach John Harbaugh recently ask him if it would be OK to show a snippet of the film to the team as a motivational tactic.
"They [his teammates] joke about it, jokes here and there,'' Oher told SI.com's Don Banks. "It's all fun. I knew they were going to enjoy it and have fun with it. It's crazy because when it first came out, nobody said one word about it. I don't know if they didn't know what I was going to say or think. But now these last couple of years they actually joke around and kid around about it a lot.''
Oher has made other strides to separate his identity from the one portrayed in the film, releasing his own book — "I Beat The Odds" — to make sure his side of the story was fully told. He remains close to the Tuohys, however, as his adopted family make many Ravens road trips and will be in New Orleans for the big game on Sunday, Oher says.
One other thing Oher made clear on media day — there will be no acting in his future.
"I'm not in the movies, man. I play football,'' Oher said. "I work hard on the field. That's why I don't like talking about [the movie], because it kind of takes away from my hard work on the field. I kind of feel a little bit under-appreciated, but as long as my team and the guys in the locker room know what I bring to the table, it's all good.''
(AP)Oher has brought a few different things to the table this season, and they have all been good. Moved back to his original NFL position of right tackle after the Ravens acquired Bryant McKinnie, Oher now helps a line that has allowed just four sacks of quarterback Joe Flacco in 99 postseason dropbacks. The current combination of McKinnie, left guard Kelechi Osemele, center Matt Birk, right guard Marshal Yanda, and Oher has played every snap of the postseason. They've formed a solid unit, which is impressive given that specific combination had never played as a fivesome before.
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith said on Tuesday that he's sufficiently impressed with how the Ravens have put things together up front.
“I mean, they move them around. They flipped Michael Oher, they have Bryant McKinnie in there now," Smith said. "They moved their guard situation around with some injury. They have what’s working for them now. They’re running the ball effectively. They max it up, they take their shots deep. The reason they can do that is they’re running the ball effectively. They get that safety dropped in the box then you go over their heads. That’s a testament to their O-line. They’re built a lot like we are. They thrive behind their offensive line, same as we do.”
And that's all about football. Just the way Michael Oher likes it.
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