While it isn’t all that surprising to learn about a traditional uplifting story receiving a little bit of that infamous Hollywood sugarcoating, Hollywood’s spin on the 1971 T.C. Williams High School Football went a little too far.
As reported by Deadspin, the inspirational and heartwarming story of the T.C. Williams High School football team as depicted in the 2001 hit film “Remember the Titans” is, to say the least, a two-hour regurgitation of cliches and utter fabrications.
The investigative piece particularly sheds light on the true nature of head coach Herman Boone, portrayed in the film by Denzel Washington. Washington’s performance depicts Boone as a man defined by integrity, passion, and racial non-bias. His teachings preach principles of equality and togetherness. His goals emphasize victory through unity.
As the article points out, Washington’s character is a handcrafted manifestation of what Hollywood views as the ideal protagonist in a film that deals with the issues of race. In reality, Herman Boone was an abusive misanthrope who utilized tactics of cruelty and oppression when handling his student athletes. Many players walked out on Boone during his tenure as T.C. Williams head coach as a result of his endless barrages of verbal and physical abuse. Conditions had even grown so dire at one point that T.C. Williams’ players held a mutiny which demanded Boone’s immediate firing, which he ultimately was.
The Herman Boone depicted in “Remember the Titans” is nothing more than the byproduct of Hollywood screenwriters. The most interesting aspect of the article explains how Boone, himself, embodied the fictional traits depicted by Washington’s character. Exploiting his newfangled celebrity status for economic gain, Boone has embarked on endless tours delivering motivational speeches to high schools and colleges around the country. The irony of these appearances, as those aware of Boones’ genuine nature point out, is that the former T.C. Williams coach now more closely replicates and channels the personality of the character created by Denzel Washington than his actual self.
The real question is: who plays the part better? Washington or Boone?
Other major fabrications include:
- Star linebacker Gerry Bertier was actually paralyzed in the months after the T.C. Williams season, rather than the week before the state championship.
- T.C. Williams never had a close game. As a matter of fact, they outscored their season opponents by a combined score of 338-38.
- The final game which crowned the underdog Titans state champions after a last second touchdown? Actually a 27-0 blowout.
- Racial tensions weren’t as critical as the film depicted. In reality Herman Boone and the integrated Titans received nearly universal support from the Alexandria, Virginia community. This aspect was added for dramatic purposes.
- Prior to the film’s release, Boone acknowledged the widespread communal support for the Titans. According to Boone, race was seldom a problem. After the film’s release, though, Boone acknowledged the racial tensions depicted in the film frequently as actualities. Make up your mind, Herman.
- The Titans were never underdogs. The integration of the area schools actually provided the T.C. Williams Titans with a pool of exceptional athletes from which to choose from. To put into proper geographical terms, this integration would be equivalent to Mt. Carmel, St. Rita and Brother Rice converging into a single school and forming a single football team.