Every Man Needs a Warband

How Can a Lone Man Stand Against the Current?

When did mainstream media adopt cancel culture as a strategy? To get an answer to this question, let’s return to 2006 Episode 15 of Season 1 of Friday Night Lights. An assistant coach is being interviewed and half ignorantly/half led on by journos (as is their way CF. scorpion and the frog) seeking a story, starts talking out of turn about the various merits of players of different ethnicities. Being a football coach and an older white Texan, his statements are out of alignment with modern sensibilities, but not dissimilar to jokes routinely made between white and black professional athletes at places like Bussin’ with the Boys and The Pat McAfee Show.

In a portent of things to come, and who expected such foresight from a 2006 serial show about a Texas HS football team, a firestorm begins. As journos are eager to do, always looking for blood in the water like the lampreys they are, they publish the story far and wide, provoking the ire of those who feel these statements were foolish and consequences were needed. To push this, the black players stage a walkout demanding the firing of Coach McGill, which looks to doom the team to certain defeat in their upcoming playoff game because though they only represent 25% of the team, they occupy almost half the starting positions.

Though at first determined to stay the course, head coach Eric Taylor soon realizes, as does his team, that without kowtowing to these players demands, their hopes and their season are doomed. Under media pressure, player pressure, familial pressure, and even booster pressure in the form of a secret meeting where Coach Taylor is told in uncertain terms to terminate Mack. In fact, in the penultimate scene, the assistant coach himself (no friend of Coach Taylor) arrives at his door with a letter of resignation declaring, “I love these boys. I love this team. And I’m not gonna do anything to stand in the way of it. I’m not gonna do anything to hurt it.” And with that he slides a letter of resignation across the counter at coach Taylor and leaves the room.

It’s at this moment that every stakeholder involved, both those on the stage and in the audience, is sure what is coming. The leader, the righteous man, will sacrifice the one for the salvation of all. The eternal mimetic scapegoating laid out philosophically by Rene Girard, but practiced practically by every culture from the beginning of civilization. 

But what follows is true leadership:

Reporters: “Coach? Coach? Coach!” (REPORTERS CLAMORING)

Eric Taylor: “I’ll start talking when y’all stop. First of all, it’s a damn shame that we’re here this morning. We should be focusing on tomorrow’s game. And I’ll tell you what, that’s exactly what we’re gonna do, ’cause Mac McGill’s gonna stay as offensive coordinator of the Dillon Panthers. That’s it. Thank you very much.” (Walks off)

Reporters: “One More!”

What courage! What fortitude! In a time when we have witnessed innumerable leaders have willingly thrown friends, family, and benefactors to the mob, such a scene crushes us with the weight of the unrealized possibilities of our not so distant past. 

The question becomes how. How to stand against the tide and weight of great forces? When the great moment comes upon you, as it does all men, as it did to Eric Taylor, the question will become whether or not you had the grounding to stand against the forces building against you. These moments are an apotheosis of whatever foundation has been set down over time, and it’s a point echoed in the Gospel’s at the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.

Those who hear my words and put them into practice become like the house whose foundation is grounded upon that which is eternal. It is no shock and Friday Night Lights is one of the few shows in my recent memory where church attendance, preaching, and pastoral counsel are regularly intertwined in the messy realities of these very human lives. Eric Taylor is grounded in his faith. He is grounded in the Lord Jesus. And that allows him to stand and speak truth against the gathering storm, knowing full well the potential consequences for his team, for his family, and for his future.

Over the next few months I hope to explore what it is about him and about the leading of a war band, of a Band of Brothers, that allows the greatness within men to become manifest and bear fruit. Eric Taylor is not just who he is because he goes to church. Eric Taylor is who he is because he understands the virtues of loyalty and brutal honesty and discipline and physical courage and the doggedness necessary for one to have victory over one’s enemies. These are not traits that our society values, but these are traits that are necessary to build into our lives and into the lives of the young men around us as we move forward as Christians in this negative world. 

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Justin Redemer

Justin Redemer is a Christian High School Principal in the SF Bay Area. A former High School English teacher and Varsity football head coach, he lives in the East Bay with his wife and five kids. He is a hunter, a gardener, and a Bay Area Men's Ministry Leader.

2 thoughts on “Every Man Needs a Warband

  1. Well done, Justin – I think Harrison Butker would appreciate your thinking here, along with a few others NFL players. Those NBA players who last year who bent their knee toward China last year for money, would greatly benefit from your wisdom. I am thinking of Le Bron James.
    But your series is falling into the what Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.”
    Way to go!
    Dick Sanner

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