‘Blind Side’ author joked about Michael Oher’s Ole Miss grades

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By Susan Comstock

As the drama has unfolded between Michael Oher and the Tuohy family, “The Blind Side” author Michael Lewis said he feels “sad” for the former NFLer.

But 16 years ago, the best-selling writer once joked about Oher’s college grades during an interview with Google.

In a recently resurfaced video, Lewis was interviewed at the company’s headquarters in California on Sept. 11, 2007, and was asked about how Oher was faring academically at Ole Miss.

“Google him now, he’s on the dean’s list at Ole Miss, which says a lot about the dean’s list at Ole Miss,” Lewis said, leading to laughs from the Mountain View audience.

Lewis, whose 2006 book was turned into the award-winning 2009 movie that starred Sandra Bullock, also spoke about how schools — such as Ole Miss — don’t challenge their student-athletes in the classroom.

“There are schools like Ole Miss, and Ole Miss isn’t even the best example, they seem mainly to exist to sustain a football team. And then they take these kids, many of whom are from the underclass — poor black kids from ghettos around America — and let them into the school. … And then they make a track for them inside the school — and the track is not designed for them to get an education or even to engage with the school outside the football team.”

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Michael Oher made stunning claims in a Tennesse court this week about the Tuohys' relationship with him.
Michael Oher made stunning claims in a Tennesse court this week about
the Tuohys’ relationship with him.
Getty Images

Lewis added that “all the poor black kids are majoring in criminal justice,” but then gave Oher credit for being “engaged” in his studies and for wanting to embark on a journalism career after playing football.

Oher, who went on to graduate from Ole Miss with a criminal justice degree, petitioned a Tennessee probate court this week with claims that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy never officially adopted him.

He says, according to court papers, that the Tuohys tricked Oher into signing over the legal authority to use his name in business deals after he turned 18, claiming he was duped out of millions of dollars.

The Tuohy family has called Oher’s allegations a shameful shakedown attempt, and “a court of law is no place to play,” their lawyer Randall Fishman said.

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy will enter into a consent order to end the conservatorship, Fishman added Wednesday.

What we know about Michael Oher’s lawsuit against the Tuohy family

Former NFL player Michael Oher, the subject of the hit movie “The Blind Side,” claims Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy never officially adopted him.

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According to court papers, the Tuohys tricked Oher into signing over the legal authority to use his name in business deals after he turned 18.

The 37-year-old alleged the Tuohys used their conservatorship to make millions in royalties from the 2009 Oscar-nominated film.


A picture of Michael Oher.
Michael Oher filed a lawsuit against Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy after recently learning he wasn’t officially adopted by the family.
Getty Images

“The lie of Michael’s adoption is one upon which Co-Conservators Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy have enriched themselves at the expense of their Ward [Oher],” the legal filing said.

Sean Tuohy spoke out against the claims, saying the conservatorship was made to ensure that Oher was eligible to play football at the University of Mississippi.

Oher wants to end the Tuohys’ conservatorship and secure an injunction barring them from using his name and likeness.

He also wants an accounting of the money they’ve already earned off his name, a fair share of the profits, and punitive damages.

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Author Michael Lewis
Author Michael Lewis wrote “The Blind Side.”
AFP via Getty Images

Earlier this week, Lewis, who is a friend of Sean Tuohy dating back to their childhoods, told the Washington Post that Hollywood is to blame for the whole situation.

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“Everybody should be mad at the Hollywood studio system,” Lewis said. “Michael Oher should join the writers’ strike. It’s outrageous how Hollywood accounting works, but the money is not in the Tuohys’ pockets.”

“What I feel really sad about is I watched the whole thing up close,” Lewis added. “They showered him with resources and love. That he’s suspicious of them is breathtaking.


Leigh Anne Tuohy with Sandra Bullock at the "The Blind Side" benefit premiere at the Prytania Theatre on November 19, 2009.
Leigh Anne Tuohy with Sandra Bullock at the “The Blind Side” benefit premiere at the Prytania Theatre on Nov. 19, 2009.
WireImage

“The state of mind one has to be in to do that — I feel sad for him.”

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