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A real Titan

February 23, 2011 - Neil Rudel

I couldn't miss a chance Tuesday night to hear the lead subject of my favorite movie, "Remember the Titans," speak at PSU.

And Herman Boone did not disappoint.

Freelance writer Matt Fortuna covered the event for us. See his story on the right.

Boone told his story to a packed Eisenhower Auditorium, where I had not been since having to cover a speech for a PSU Journalism class, ahem, 34 years ago. I was accompanied by my son Adam, now a PSU freshman, which was fitting because we've watched the movie a hundred times together and know all the lines.

Boone did an excellent job, and it was nice to see him pay tribute to PSU assistant football coach Larry Johnson, who was beaming during an introduction and was received warmly. Johnson played for Boone while attending high school in North Carolina and later was an administrator at T.C. Williams High School, which is the school that integrated in 1971 and was the focus of the movie.

Boone (played by Denzel Washington in the movie) was correct in saying the movie is not as much about sports as it is about life.

Script writers often take liberties in an attempt to make the movie more interesting. T.C. did not have to come from behind to win the Virginia state championship -- contrary to the movie.

Some other things I learned from Boone's speech:

*He did not order a run at 3 a.m. through fields and creeks from their Gettysburg dormitory to the battlefield. It made for a great scene and was the introductory teaser Tuesday night. Boone, though, said he had the team take a bus to the site, where he delivered his motivational speech.

*Star linebacker Gerry Bertier was critically injured after the championship game, not before it.

*Boone believed then and still believes that Bill Yoast deserved the head coaching job at T.C. Instead, Yoast (played by Will Patten in the movie) became the assistant head coach, and the two grew to be best friends.

*Boone is in touch with his players weekly and he gave an update on each of the more notable stars -- Julius, Rev, Sunshine, Blue and Louie (now a millionaire, Boone said). The movie led to the formation of a foundation -- the president of which is Blue, not surprising since he showed great leadership characteristics in the movie. The foundation helps underpriviledged students go to college.

If you'd like to look at more information on the Original Titans, check the link out on the right.

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