CMT hosted a Memorial Day Marathon of Friday Night Lights, and although I am NOT a country music fan, I am grateful.
Of course I can just turn on Netflix, but that’s not the point! I love seeing it’s still given well deserved attention on live TV.
It is very hard for me to put my love for Friday Night Lights into words. It will always be in my Top 3. I can’t picture my life without sports, and this show is just an amazing depiction of how young kids, and sometimes entire towns, live and breathe it. The best part about FNL, however, is that it’s not just about football. You come to know and love all the people in the town of Dillon, Texas. I’ve watched the show start to finish about 5 times, but I still can never get enough.
Although characters like Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins will always have a special place in my heart, my favorite character without a doubt is Coach Eric Taylor. Kyle Chandler portrays the most honest depiction of a man trying to handle his family, his team of teenagers, and an entire community with kindness, wisdom, and respect. Overall, he’s just the best DILF around. Sorry I’m not sorry.
Here’s the reasons why he will be my eternal fave.
He’s an adorable, damn good husband.
It takes a good man to keep the amazing Tami Taylor happy. And he fits the bill. Eric and Tami are a team. And unlike other shows that portray the husband as the macho, in control one, and the wife as the supporter, in this case, they each play both roles. And it’s so close to a real-life depiction of a marriage that you can’t help but love it. Throughout the course of the show, the Taylor family has gone through so many ups and downs (I’m looking at you, Julie), and although they have had their fair share of squabbles, Eric kept a level head, respected his wife’s side of the argument, and most of the time compromised gracefully. And they’re just so damn cute together.
He’s the classic, adorable, embarrassing father.
Let’s be real for a minute: Eric is a better dad than Julie sometimes deserved. She put her parents through some stupid crap. Her low point was definitely when she purposely crashed the car into a mailbox so she didn’t have to go back to college, where her TA’s girlfriend bitchslapped her for sleeping with him. I still don’t understand how the child of Eric and Tami Taylor can produce such a troublesome teenager, but I digress. Sometimes he showed classic tough love, like when she got arrested like an idiot and he made her sit in the police station longer than any other kids. Or, because she is his little girl, he goes easy on her, even more than Tami would sometimes like. One of my favorite moments is when Matt has asked Julie out for the first time. Eric and Tami were freaking out over their daughter dating a football player, and Eric finally had a heartfelt talk with Julie.
“You are beautiful, you are sensitive, and you are sweet and I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”
I mean, be more adorable!
My favorite Eric Taylor Dad Moments are of course when he is embarrassing said teenage daughter. A few classic examples are intimidating poor Matt Saracen when all he did was taking her out on a date, to later in the show walking in on the young couple doing the deed. Classic dad.
He is way too nice to annoying, petty people.
Whenever I want to punch Buddy Garrity through my screen, I tell myself to chill, he’s a fictional character. And then I remember that this show is based on a movie, that is based on a true story, which means the man Buddy is modeled after did exist. And then I want to find that real person and punch him. Look, I understand that high school football means everything to a lot of people in Texas. But this man has tested my TV viewer patience on so many occasions. Which proves why Eric Taylor will always be a better real/fictional person than I ever will be. Throughout five seasons, Eric listened to every annoying, meddling suggestion Buddy had and told him with a smile he would take it into consideration. If I were in Eric’s position, I would have told him to buzz off on day one. But really, I’m not being fair. The whole town of Dillon, Texas gives the Taylor family a lot of grief over the years, not just Buddy. And Eric handles the angry mob or petty people with grace. Much respect.
Most of all: he’s an amazing, respectable coach.
“Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.”
Coach Eric Taylor’s motto is so famous and overused, but I don’t even care. It’s such an amazing quote. With these six words, he explains what he expects out of all of his players.
As someone who has played sports since she was four years old, I have had my fair share of coaches throughout my life. After watching Friday Night Lights, I shake my head at them all. And not all of them were bad. But seeing how well Coach Taylor treated his players, it made me realize that they could have done better as my coaches. Tami Taylor called her husband “a molder of men.” And she hit the nail right on the head. From the very first episode, he showed his players that he doesn’t expect them to be perfect football players. But he wants them to be respectable men. And he loves each of his players as if they were his own kids. Watching him struggle with Jason Street’s injury was heartbreaking. Watching him whip guys like Tim Riggins, Smash Williams and Vince Howard into better men was awesome. Also, each of his locker room speeches were awesome.
Most of all, Coach Taylor’s interactions with Matt Saracen over the course of the show was the best. Matt started as a shy, second stringer sophomore, and with Eric’s help became a man worthy of his daughter. In the Pilot, a shaken Matt, who never took a snap in his high school career, had to step in for an injured Jason Street. And Coach Taylor was able to talk him through and give him the confidence to win. And throughout that state championship season, there were plenty of times where the entire town doubted Matt. Even when that despicable Voodoo Tatum came into town, Coach Taylor kept his faith in Matt, and it paid off. Coach Taylor also didn’t let his discomfort of Matt dating Julie affect how he treated Matt both on and off the field.
He also recognized that Matt lacked a father figure. His dad was in Iraq, and more interested in his country than his son and mother at home. Young Matt was left with the responsibility of taking care of his grandmother, while also dealing with football and his academics. From the second episode of season one, Eric recognized this and took Matt under his wing. One scene will always stick out to me from FNL:
“What is wrong with me? Why does everybody leave me?”
In Season 2, Episode 14 “Jumping the Gun,” Matt Saracen is in a bad place. Julie has left him for another man. His current girlfriend, who also happened to be his grandmother’s caretaker, has left him for a better life elsewhere. And his team has deserted him for another quarterback. Oh yeah, and the previously mentioned absent father left his family, AGAIN, in the midst of all of this, to return to Iraq for another tour. So, you can understand that the kid might want to skip school and practice and go get drunk with Tim Riggins. But Coach sees this as a slippery slope, and won’t allow it. He takes Matt, throws him into the bathtub, and turns the cold water on to cool him off. It is easily Zach Gilford’s best performance in the show, but some attention also has to be given to Kyle Chandler’s performance as well. He wants to give this kid tough love, but he can’t help but feel for him. It’s the scene that never fails to make me cry like a baby.
So hats off to you, Coach Eric Taylor. My love for you knows no bounds.