Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream Characters

Buzz Bissinger


Several members of the 1988 Permian Panthers and their coach are the most important characters in the book. They and their teammates fill to capacity the 20,000-seat Ratliff Stadium on Friday nights. What almost each of the players had in common was a father figure who for good or ill influenced them. With one exception, none of them got offers from major colleges, and all of them felt nothing else would equal the Permian football experience.

Senior quarterback Mike Winchell watched his father die when Mike was thirteen and he never really healed. They had been inseparable. Even though he lived with his mother, he looked out for himself for years. He was a gifted player who started as a junior for Permian, but he was always wracked by self-doubt and a lack of confidence. In his senior year, he set career records for most yards passing, most passing attempts, and most touchdown passes. Yet in the season ending state semifinal loss, Mike had the worst day of his career. Later, he could only attribute it "to carefully watching out for himself ever since he was a little boy." He simply was incapable of playing with reckless abandon. He graduated from college, works as a surveyor, plays golf on a Texas pro tour, and refuses to discuss Friday Night Lights.

Boobie Miles, who is featured in the book, attempted a comeback but it failed miserably. His inability to cut greatly decreased his mobility. His frustration mounted and he eventually quit the team. His story is not that of a quitter, but rather one of a school and a town that offered him only one option—playing football. He was estranged from his uncle L. V. Miles, who had taken him in and schooled him in football, but they later reunited. With no other alternatives in sight, Boobie tried to play junior college football but did not last a season. L. V. died in 1998, and Boobie now works to support four children.

Brian Chavez was the most unique member of the 1988 team. He ranked first in his class and took nothing but honors courses. As devoted as he was to Permian football and as fiercely as he played, he always knew there was more to life than this temporary fame. He would eventually...

(The entire section is 884 words.)