The book led to a 2004 movie, whose writer-director, Peter Berg, subsequently pitched it as a series to NBC.
The series format allowed Berg to minimize the gridiron action and zero in on characters. If you like shows that offer sympathetic portrayals of characters steeped in ambiguity, is for you.
And when you read the written coda of what happened to the real kids, it's a note of pure heartbreak.
Any parent will smile to see how Eric and Tami, who in their jobs routinely dispense thoughtful counsel to young people, so often lose their perspective when dealing with their own teenaged daughter, Julie.
Yes, this is a film about American football, but it is so much more.
It is a stark survey of the hold sport has on life, with its tribal allure and power to devastate both supporter and player.
Its scrutiny of errant humans coping under pressure repeatedly presents good people doing bad things—succumbing to various forms of temptation, anger or duress – along with the obverse example of deeply compromised characters managing, through an unexpected grace, to transcend their flaws.
Thus we have Buddy Garrity, a car dealer and head of a powerful faction of football boosters, who is equal parts blowhard, conniver, and philanderer, undertaking to help a troubled teenaged boy his daughter befriends on a Christian visit to a youth correctional facility—and sticking by him, even when the young man relapses.