Friday Night Lights novel cover. It was later adapted for television and film. It was while he was at Harvard that the idea to write a book focused upon the role friday night lights full book pdf school football plays within American society, in particular rural society, took hold. He settled on Odessa, Texas.
Permian High School and its football team, the Permian Panthers, had a substantial, rich history of winning in Texas’ 4A and 5A division, having won championships in 1965, 1972, 1980, and 1984. Bissinger moved his family to Odessa and spent the entire 1988 football season with the Permian Panther players, their families, their coaches, and even many of the townspeople in an effort to understand the town and its football-mad culture. Star fullback for Permian heading into the 1988 season. The previous season he had rushed for 1,385 yards and showed flashes of brilliance. This season would be the season for him to shine and lead the team to a Texas state championship.
He is portrayed by Bissinger as a boy who is mostly level-headed, but prone to nerves. His play is unspectacular but effective. He feels a lot of pressure from the town and peers alike. He is mostly seen as an example of the good in Odessa, a diamond among rocks.
A punishing hitter with excellent reflexes and athleticism, Christian is a religious person. He struggles to enjoy playing football, realizing that there should be more to life and spends much of his time in thought. His father is a local legend for being a star player for Permian in the late 1960s, though Don is known more for his off the field activities, which at the time included drinking, fighting, and womanizing. Permian and, at 5’9″, knows he is too small to play at the college level, so practices several times a day to bring himself to an advantage. A bright football mind who constantly deals with the pressures from the fans, the booster club, and the lofty expectations of being head coach for Permian. Charles Mills, a player with more heart than any other team member. He has been known to have played every single snap of a varsity game, motivating his teammates to victory.
The book ends with Coach erasing names of the seniors from his board and replacing them with names of the juniors who will replace them next season. 1989 Texas state football champions. The game is played on October 28, 1988. Former star, Boobie knows his performance against Midland Lee will be important for his future. He hasn’t played well since August when he injured his knee in a preseason scrimmage, but the coaches never put Boobie in the game. After the game, a furious Boobie storms out of the locker room and quits the team two days later. Bissinger begins the book at the start of the 1988 football season in August and how Gaines is preparing for it.
Bissinger then chronicles the history of Odessa. However, the settlers quickly discovered that it was dry and arid. Almost overnight, the town boomed and it saw more growth in a month than it had seen in ten years. The population increased dramatically and money was everywhere. According to the book, “diarrhea, lawlessness, overcrowding, bad water, prostitution, and a rat problem” plagued the town.
Out in the oil fields, the boomers worked round the clock to make their money. 1946 and making it back to the championship in 1953, thus laying the foundation for football fanaticism. Permian proved quickly that it was not going to play second to Odessa High. They became known as the embodiment of Odessa: small, white and overachieving. Meanwhile, due to demographic shifts and oddly drawn boundaries, Odessa High became populated with mainly poor whites and poor Hispanics—while a substantial majority of the city’s relatively small black population ended up in the Permian attendance zone. This is not to say, however, that Permian didn’t have its share of poor people from all major ethnic groups.
Bissinger talks about the Watermelon Feed held at Permian in August as a preseason celebration. He then chronicles the history of Permian football. Since its founding in 1959, it had won the state championship in 1965, 1972, 1980 and 1984. Despite the fact that it only won one state championship in the 1970s, Permian had statistically been the winningest team in the state of Texas. Bissinger then discusses the pressure that Gaines is constantly under because of how intensely devoted the Permian fans are. High school football is used as a distraction for the once thriving community of Odessa which had gone into a slump when the second boom ended. This chapter focuses upon the black star fullback, James “Boobie” Miles, who is Permian’s ticket to the state championship.
Bissinger uses Boobie as an example of the negative effect high school football can have its players. Boobie is not a good student and doesn’t have to worry about grades because he will most likely get a football scholarship to a major college. With the season opener only a week away, no one knows what to do. Now the pressure is on quarterback Mike Winchell.
Meanwhile, junior running back Chris Comer is called to replace Boobie. This chapter focuses upon the life of Mike Winchell, Permian’s starting quarterback. Mike lived with his mother. His father, Billy, died when Mike was just thirteen. Billy had always been keen on Mike’s playing football when he was a little kid.
Mike’s older brother, Joe Bill, took over that role but, in 1988, Joe Bill had moved out. Mike was very intelligent and received an offer of admission from Brown University but had prospects of playing football only at a smaller college. Don Billingsley is Permian’s starting Tailback and son of the legendary Charlie Billingsley who played football in the 1960s. Odessa in 1986 before his sophomore year.