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Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Life imitating art imitating football

By Matt Remsberg


Related: "Undefeated" filmmakers get it right

As America's most popular sport, it's no surprise the world of football is a common setting for TV shows and movies. That's why some of the characters in the Oscar-nominated documentary "Undefeated" about the 2009 season of the Manassas High School (Memphis, Tenn.) football team feel so familiar. Here, we break down the characters in the doc with their real-life and fictional equivalents.

Bill Courtney as coach Eric Taylor
The beloved coach of the Dillon Panthers and East Dillon Lions in the TV version of “Friday Night Lights,” Coach Taylor is tough on his players but is also able to connect with them and motivate them to succeed beyond what they thought was possible. That aptly describes Coach Courtney as well. A father figure to many of the members of the Manassas team, Courtney is relentlessly positive and brings the best out of his players. Success on the field, however, doesn’t mean as much to him as impacting his players’ lives and setting them on the path to a successful life. Courtney also has a knack for delivering inspirational speeches, although he never quite develops a catchphrase like, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

Montrail Brown as Rudy
The title character from the 1993 film “Rudy,” Rudy Ruettiger was an undersized defensive lineman who managed to walk on to the mighty Notre Dame football team. In his one and only play from scrimmage, he recorded a sack. Montrail Brown, known as "Money," was also an undersized lineman, only on the offensive side of the ball. Thanks to his hard work and football smarts, Montrail overcomes some serious adversity to become a valuable asset to the Manassas football team.

O.C. Brown as Michael Oher
The inspiration for the 2009 film “The Blind Side,” Oher’s story is extremely similar to Brown’s. Like Oher, Brown was from Memphis and showed big-time potential on the offensive line. They were both taken in by upper-class white families who provided stability and helped them realize their dream of playing college football. Academics was Oher’s biggest hurdle to playing in college, as he needed to raise his GPA from below a 1.0 to close to a 3.0. For Brown, the challenge is scoring a 16 on his ACT.

Chavis Daniels as Malik Wright
The hothead quarterback for the San Diego Sabers in BET’s “The Game,” Wright is his own worst enemy. His temper is his downfall, and that applies to Chavis as well. Chavis misses the beginning of the 2009 preseason while at a youth detention center. When he rejoins the team, his anger and behavioral problems appear no better than before. Courtney suspends him indefinitely, inspiring Chavis to begin turning things around.