A Southern Gentleman Is: Michael Oher

Jun 20, 2022 at 03:02 pm by RMGadmin

A Southern Gentleman Chases Greatness – How Michael Oher
Chases Greatness to Inspire Others.

With introduction from Kevin Herrington, Lineage bank

It is an absolute honor to introduce Michael Oher as this month’s A Southern Gentleman Is... feature gentleman. Michael is the epitome of a Southern Gentleman and is not only a valued friend to Lineage Bank but also our community. Of course, many of us know of Michael’s college and professional football accomplishments, but that is not what defines his character. His
 off-the-field accomplishments of giving back to the disadvantaged youth in the Greater Nashville area through education, is just one example of his willingness to support the people in this community.  
So, without further ado, please enjoy this month’s Southern Gentleman, Mr. Michael Oher.
 - Kevin Harrington
For those who may not immediately recognize the name, Michael Oher is a former National Football League offensive tackle, playing for eight seasons on three teams; the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans (Go Titans!) and Carolina Panthers. You may also recognize his name from the Academy Award winning film, based on his life story,  The Blind Side. But as we learned both upon first having the privilege to meet Michael and during our interview at his home, there is more to the man than meets the eye. Enjoy this feature interview with one of  Williamson County’s coolest southern gentlemen!

Why did you choose Williamson County as your home? What are some of the things you love most about WC?
My roots have always been tied to the city of Nashville ever since I was a kid. Nashville, in particular, was the first city I visited outside of Memphis. We used to play all our championship games here, whether basketball, football or track and field. Then once the NFL Draft approached, I did all my training here. Eventually, I would return to this city to play for the Titans in my sixth year in the NFL. It was then that I decided I wanted this city to be my home. 
Today, Nashville has grown into a powerhouse,  which is why I love the specific charm reserved in Williamson County. It has maintained its southern roots and culture that I was so used to growing up. Even though nearly a quarter of a million people are here, it still maintains that small-town feel. The comradery of feeling like you know everyone can be attributed to all its residents’ friendly southern disposition. 
Of course, if I am being honest, the number one reason Williamson County has earned its title as the home of Michael Oher is the food. I am so pleased to know that it has grown into a ‘foodie town’ because cuisine is the one creature comfort I cannot live without. My early life made me appreciate the blessing of a good meal, and that is something you don’t lack in a place like Williamson County. 
How did you get started in football? Did you always have a love for the sport?
I got started in football at a very early age by playing around in the neighborhood with the other kids. I grew up a big Dallas Cowboys fan ever since I could remember. Being a fan and having a team that you could say you were a part of was very special for me – that is one of the biggest reasons I clung to the sport. Football gave me a family atmosphere where being held accountable and the idea of setting goals and accomplishing them were fostered. These attributes only contributed to taking me further to where I wanted to be in life. 
I also knew that sports were a way that someone like me could make it to college. Even as a kid, education was important to me. It was the key to success, and football was my way of getting there. 
What motivates you?
My biggest motivator is the one principle that I have adopted ever since I was a kid on the streets of Memphis. That principle is trying to become the best version of myself every single day – mentally, physically and spiritually. I wake up each day wanting to be a role model for others. 
My hope is that if anyone else were to look at me, they would say, ‘That’s it. That’s the blueprint I want to follow for my own life.’
The only way I know how to do that is by creating the best version of myself each day. You will watch yourself become better and better over time if you do that consistently.
What advice would you give a young you or today’s younger generation to help them reach their potential and be the best they can be?
The advice I would give to the young generation of today would be this:
  1. Enjoy the process, and do not try to rush life. When you enjoy each day, you are building a masterpiece. 
  2. Take the time to perfect your craft. 
  3. Find and take opportunities presented to you daily. 
  4. Do not get caught up in the difficulty of a situation; instead, find the good in it. 
  5. Opportunities are everywhere – Make the most of them. 
  6. Be thankful. Do not complain. 

What do you think it means to be a Southern Gentleman?
A key requirement of a gentleman is to be someone who has built themselves in greatness. That does not mean you have to be rich or famous, but it does mean that you have to chase greatness daily. 
What does that mean? Greatness is the highest value you can achieve compared to the alternative. So, greatness can change depending on what a culture or society values. For example, in the south, society values kindness, compassion, authenticity and integrity. This is seen day to day in the small gestures of holding the door for someone, smiling or doing a good deed for someone. That is the ideal gentleman to me - someone who can show kindness to others on a daily basis  because that is who they have chosen to be at the core of their character. 
Of course, to be deemed a Southern Gentleman that chases for greatness, you must embody these values. If we can raise this next generation to value these qualities, we can ensure that the Southern Gentleman is not lost to time. That is what I believe this world needs more than anything right now–men who embody the kind spirit and character of a Southern Gentleman. Kindness through strength has the best chance of changing a community for the better. 
When you were young, who did you want to be or be like when you grew up? Who are your most significant role models?
My biggest role model was Michael Jordan. His energy, the way he carried himself with class, and that when he would talk, he knew exactly who he wanted to be. He knew exactly what he wanted to say. He got his points across. 
Whenever he was doing an interview, he had those gentlemanly qualities. He spoke well. Those were the attributes I liked and enjoyed about him. As we know, Michael Jordan was a basketball player. So, without him, I would not have gone down the path I did with sports. 
What are your favorite pastimes?
My favorite thing to do when I am not giving back is spending time with my family. My most cherished moments are going to the baseball fields and attending basketball games to watch my kids play. 
Tell us about your philanthropic endeavors in this community. Why do you feel it is essential to give back?
Right now, I am working on getting my foundation, the Oher Foundation, up and running. Through it, I hope to make access to higher education a possible reality for kids who are just like me. Growing up, I did not initially have the opportunities or resources to improve my academic standing. When you do not have a stable home life, experience poverty and live in an underfunded district, excelling academically to pursue higher education seems impossible. Unfortunately, homework takes a back seat to survival for the kids facing starvation and sleeping on the street. 
I want to have a hand in championing the kids experiencing these adversities. I want to make sure they have the same opportunity I had to earn their way to a better education without being bogged down with the stress and hopelessness of poverty. In short, I want to provide that path for kids starving for success to escape the cycle of despair by giving them an option to pursue higher education. 
When given a platform as I have, you are responsible for using it and giving back to the world. That is why I am using the Oher Foundation as a platform to give kids like me the same chance I had. I hope to ensure stories like mine are no longer a miracle but rather a reality we can come to expect for our future generations. 
How has The Blind Side movie impacted your life? Do you feel it portrayed you and your life and achievements accurately? 
The Blind Side gave me a great platform. More than anything, it helped raise eyebrows for so many other kids to have the opportunity to be adopted. If someone did not get a chance before, the story might have provided that one. 
Although, the movie portrayed some of the hardships I had to face accurately, it did not depict the amount of effort required of me to get where I am today. 
Anything else you would like for our readers to know?
Never think you are done. You can always get to greater heights. There are a million things you can be great at. No matter how many doors may close in your face, there will always be another opportunity on the horizon. Look for those, and when they present themselves, take them. Everyone, no matter the circumstances, can chase greatness and inspire others. You are never too old to continue your story. Until your book closes in life, there is always room for you to write your best chapter yet. 

Thank you, Michael, for helping make Williamson County a wonderful place to live for all of our community.