Michael Oher: Where is the Retired Football Player Now?

Image Credit: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

John Lee Hancock’s sports drama film ‘The Blind Side’ chronicles Michael Oher’s rise to become a football sensation in the American South. Despite having humble beginnings, Oher garners the attention of coaches and scouts of varying reputed colleges with his dominance on the football field. With the guidance of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, who take him under their wings, Oher secures a place in the Ole Miss Rebels. In reality, Oher had a highly intricate upbringing and emergence to stardom. Nearly two decades after his admission to the University of Mississippi, he remains in the spotlight in varying ways!

Becoming an All-American

Michael Oher’s life turned around when “Big Tony” Henderson decided to take the former to the Briarcrest Christian School in Shelby County, Tennessee, for admission. Even though he was not deemed the brightest and most intelligent student of his generation, football coach Hugh Freeze’s recommendation helped him secure admission. Oher’s paths crossed with the Tuohys when Sean saw him near the basketball court in the school one day. The businessman helped the underprivileged boy open a lunch account as he had done for several other students. The chance encounter paved the way for Sean to spot Oher not long after while the latter was going to the gym for heat.

Leigh Anne, Sean’s wife, was adamant about having Oher for Thanksgiving as she couldn’t stand the possibility of the boy being alone during the holidays, dealing with the immense cold. The Thanksgiving union marked the beginning of his relationship with the Tuohys, who sought his conservatorship. Meanwhile, Oher started to impress Freeze with his ability on the football field. Weighing 344 pounds, he wasn’t an ordinary player as far as Freeze was concerned. However, the coach knew Oher was irreplaceable. The football player’s life was turned around once again when Tom Lemming’s scouting report impressed several coaches in Division I college football.

When Oher and the Tuohys realized that college football was the next stepping stone for the former, they came across a challenge: his grades. Since the football player had to meet the academic requirements of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the family appointed Sue Mitchell to give lessons to him. Once he secured the grades, Oher joined the University of Mississippi to become an Ole Miss Rebel. In his first season, he was named as an All-American with 10 games as a guard under his best. In the sophomore season, he changed his position to left tackle and went on to become a part of numerous All-Conference and All-American teams.

Michael Oher: Super Bowl Win and the Retirement

By the time Michael Oher graduated from the University of Mississippi, he had garnered the attention of several NFL scouts. In 2009, the Baltimore Ravens secured his signature on a 5-year, $13.8 million contract. As the starting right tackle of the Ravens, Oher became a Super Bowl champion in 2013 by beating the San Francisco 49ers. He remained a part of the Ravens for one more year before moving to the Tennessee Titans in 2014. His time at the Titans was miserable due to a toe injury. After being sidelined for a major part of the season, the team released him, paving the way for his move to the Carolina Panthers on a 2-year, 7-million contract.

After a subpar season with the Titans, Oher returned to his best form for the Panthers. He joined hands with quarterback Cam Newton to lead the football team to his second Super Bowl with impressive stats. Even though the Panthers lost the championship to the Denver Broncos, the former team was impressed with Oher and offered him a three-year contract extension worth $21.6 million in 2016. However, a concussion led the player to the sidelines for a considerable part of the 2016 season, only for him to get released by the Panthers in 2017.

Ron Rivera, who coached the team at the time, stated that the decision was taken after prioritizing Oher’s health. “The most important thing is his health. Our only concern is him getting healthy. Michael’s health always came first. We were not going to force the issue. Michael understood, and we expressed that to him,” Rivera said about releasing Oher, as per the Panthers. In the same year, he retired from professional football.

Legal Battles Against the Tuohys

In August 2023, Michael Oher filed a petition against Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, claiming that the couple became his conservators by giving him the idea that they were adopting him. “Since at least August of 2004, Conservators have allowed Michael, specifically, and the public, generally, to believe that Conservators adopted Michael and have used that untruth to gain financial advantages for themselves and the foundations which they own or which they exercise control,” the petition stated. The retired football player sought the money Tuohys supposedly made using his name, especially by selling his life rights to the producers of ‘The Blind Side’ and promoting Leigh Anne’s book ‘In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving.’

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Oher also went on to raise his voice against his portrayal in ‘The Blind Side.’ “At the end of the day, I had drive, ability. The want to succeed and be something, and it didn’t show the work ethic I put in to get to that point. You have to understand that came out in 2009. When I moved in with the family, I was an All-American football player already,” he told Salon Talks. “I was 18, and I moved [in with the Tuohys] in a couple of weeks before senior year of high school. I had been through the journey I’d already traveled, which was a success on its own, coming from where I came from. So, you have to give some credit right there,” he added.

According to the producers of ‘The Blind Side,’ Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove, their banner Alcon Entertainment paid “$767,000 to the talent agency that represents the Tuohy family and Michael Oher,” as per a statement, to split evenly. Oher’s legal representatives then asserted that the money the retired player received was not justifiable. “Without Mr. Oher, there would have been no movie. The Tuohy had it backwards: 80% of the proceeds should have gone to Petitioner and 20% to the Tuohy family,” read a petition.

Sean and Leigh Anne responded to the petition, stating that they never intended to legally adopt Oher. They added that they sought conservatorship to ensure his admission to Ole Miss and denied ever considering him as a means of making money. As a result of Oher’s petition, a Shelby County judge terminated the Tuohys’ conservatorship of the retired football player in September 2023. In December, the Tuohys claimed that Oher tried to extort $15 million from them using text messages. “If something isn’t resolved this Friday, I’m going to go ahead and tell the world, how I was robbed by my suppose to be [sic] parents. That’s the deadline. It was 10 million now I want 15 after taxes,” the text messages allegedly read.

Michael Oher is an Author and Proud Father of Four

Michael Oher was battling a legal war against Leigh Anne and Sean while promoting his book, ‘When Your Back’s Against the Wall: Fame, Football, and Lessons Learned through a Lifetime of Adversity,’ a memoir he wrote with Don Yaeger. It can be seen as a follow-up to his 2011 autobiography ‘I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond.’ In 2023, Oher appeared on various platforms/networks/events to promote his literary work. He shares his life with Tiffany Roy, whom he met during their time at the University of Mississippi. The couple, who got married on November 5, 2022, has two sons and two daughters. Their marriage was the culmination of a 17-year relationship.

Oher is also involved in the activities of The Oher Foundation, a charity he formed to help “socio-economic disadvantaged youth by providing them with opportunities through higher education, mentorship, and healthy living.” The organization conducts varying programs, ranging from marathons to wine tastings, to raise funds for its mission. The retired football player is also into golfing, and he even received “lessons” from Talor Gooch, a renowned professional golfer, recently. Oher continues to inspire and empower youth by attending different events conducted by educational institutions.

Read More: Are The Blind Side’s Coach Cotton and Miss Sue Based on Real People?