Underrated Dramas: The Gridiron Gang

If this happens to be one of the movies that you didn’t realize Dwayne Johnson was in then you might need to find which streaming site you can access this one on and get to it. The movie is loosely based on a real story, but when you find the real story you’ll likely discover that a lot of the characters have been changed quite a bit. The 1990 Kilpatrick Mustangs, a group of juvenile criminals that have been sent away for one crime or another, are seen to have a serious issue with recidivism, as the inmates that are released back into the world are either killed outright or they end up going back to their old gangs and are eventually sent to prison. Sean Porter and Malcolm Moore, played by Dwayne Johnson and Xzibit respectively, are two of the guards and supervisors of the young men that come to the prison and are distressed when one of their charges is killed not long after being released. Sean and Malcolm agree that they’re not making a difference as they take in violent offenders and teach them next to nothing of value. 

What Sean proposes to do is start a football team, which is, understandably, a less than smart idea to start with, since the violent criminals that are within the prison don’t exactly need another reason to become violent. But Sean is looking to create something else with his system than people who know how to hit each other, he’s looking to create something that these boys have never had before, a reason to be proud of themselves. Some folks might want to argue that football is a very violent and not as effective manner by which to teach people, but they would be missing the bigger picture that exists within the sport, the act of becoming part of a team, a community, and relying on one another both on and off the field., 

Sean seeks to give the boys a reason to let old hatreds die and become something greater as they come to rely on each other and help each other out, and there are plenty of instances within the movie in which this happens, as gang members that might have gladly killed each on the outside started to come together as teammates, and then as friends. When gang violence erupts at the end of a game it scares the rest of the league into possibly ending a championship game before it can begin, as the Mustangs end up making the playoffs against a school that thrashed them during their first meeting. In the process of coming together as a team, the path that had to be walked had plenty of challenges, not to mention a great number of setbacks that nearly ended things for a few of the players, and even for Sean. When the athletes begin to respect each other and him though, things start to work in a way that no one ever expected. Things begin to turn around in a big way for several of the players when they start to settle their issues and find common ground that allows them to become a tighter unit. 

The thing about football, and that’s shown in this movie, is that it’s not just about what happens during each play, or even the organization that’s needed to bring a team together. A team of any sort doesn’t operate on the common goal of winning a game. A team is more than a group of individuals with the same end goal in mind, they’re a family of sorts that has to work together, train together, and when necessary, share just about everything with each other, since whatever can affect an individual outside of the game can affect their efficiency in a big way. This is seen in the way that several players have to deal with their personal issues before they can become as confident in their game as possible. Throughout the movie, even Sean has to deal with his own issues as he comes to the realization that the reason he’s so hard on the boys has a lot to do with how hard his own father was on him. 

As football dramas go this is a solid movie in a lot of ways since it creates a very realistic story that is something that might be recognizable to some folks depending on where they live, what they’ve been through, and what type of lives they’ve led. But the main point of the story is that a group of offenders was given another chance to show that they could change, that they could move past the violence and hatred of the areas they’d come from, and create a new life that’s lived for themselves, and for those that they care about. 

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