Brian and the Boz

This 30 for 30 documentary shook me up. It’s about a kid (Brian Bosworth, better known as the Boz) who can never meet his father’s expectations who takes on a college coach (Barry Switzer) as his subtitute father figure, enjoys astonishing success as he takes on an alter ego (the Boz), but then it destroys him and destroys his relationship with his substitute father figure, destroys his relationship with his substitute family (the Oklahoma Sooners) as he writes a tell-all book filled with devastating criticisms of the people who loved him, and then his dreams of NFL success come to a quick and crushing halt because of shoulder problems and he has no home and no community to fall back on. He falls into a deep depression as everybody who loved him has grown to hate him.

Rick Reilly, the author of the Boz’s autobiography, says: “He took a shot at everybody he could except his dad, who was the one person he really wanted to lash out at.”

Brian tells his son: “It seemed like no matter how well I played, I never seemed to be able to do enough.”

Son: “Why was that?”

Brian: “I don’t know. I don’t know why I couldn’t make him happy. It was just something I couldn’t give him.”

“Look at all this stuff. There’s more to life than paper clippings, accolades, and rewards. If you can’t meet the expectations, it doesn’t mean that you are less of a man.”

Director: “Brian was never able to find peace with his relationship with his father. There was this space between them that neither of them knew how to mend and to move past.”

Brian’s dad dies in 2009. There never is a reconciliation.

“Brian is trying to show his kids the love he never got himself.”

Rick: “Brian was a terrific pro player as long as he lasted. He wasn’t big enough to play in the NFL but he got $11 million dollars. He went to number two on the New York Times bestseller list. They gave him gifts in Seattle. He was the toast of the town.”

Brian: “You can fall off that pedestal in a moment.”

Friend: “He realizes that what he was chasing for decades, he was never going to find contentment in that.”

“To get to where he is now, you have to hit rock bottom.”

Daughter: “After my grandfather’s death, he came to truth with his faith and what’s real and what’s deserving of his time and energy and love.”

Pat Tillman: “He’s morphed into a guy who’s filled with contrition.”

Barry Switzer: “You’ve always been a part of the program, Brian. We knew what you were.”

In the 90-minute program, that’s the sentence that moves me most: “You’ve always been a part of the program, Brian.” I guess that’s the sentence I most want to hear from some of my authority figures.

Brian says to Barry: “You and I have gone through a long relationship and I’ve always felt, I can’t let this man. I not only betrayed you, but then I lost your trust, I lost you as a coach, I lost you as a friend. It took me many years of work to get back into the good graces with you.”

That part makes my eyes well up.

Brian to Barry: “You replaced my father as my father figure.”

Barry: “I loved Brian Bosworth. That other kid who came along, Boz, I had a little problem with him.”

“You were never a disciplinary problem. You were never an alcohol problem. You were never a drug problem. You did everything we asked of you. The problem was you were always on stage for the media, doing the outlandish, saying the outlandish. Your mouth created more problems for you and for me than any actions you did.”

In 2003, Brian goes back to Oklahoma University and apologizes and is accepted back, to a degree, into that family.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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