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Gary Gaines, The Head Coach From Odessa-Permian And "Friday Night Lights", Dies Of Alzheimer's At Age 73


The lights around Texas high school football are a bit dim today. We’ve lost a legendary coach.

Gary Gaines passed away at age 73.

Gaines passed away from Alzheimer’s disease on August 22, 2022. He had been diagnosed with the disease in 2017

To start with a tangent, it's cool stumbling into the world of Texas HS football and re-realizing how serious they take the sport down there. Multiple websites that talk NOTHING but Texas high school football and Twitter accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers. Sure, we have EdgyTim in Illinois. But that's also a website linked to Rivals which is owned by Yahoo and has major backing. It's not privately owned sites like the one I linked above is as far as I can tell. Kinda wild how serious they take HS football when it's just "decent" in Illinois, at least in my opinion. 

Nevertheless, this news stinks. If Billy Bob's portrayal of Gary Gaines is anything like what he was in real life, then Coach Gaines touched the lives of a ton of kids in a positive way. THAT'S the kinda guy you want to play for. The kinda guy you want go to war for with your Band of Brothers, no matter who the opposition is, and it always sucks when the world loses people like that, whether we know those people on a personal level or not. 

Friday Night Lights is an ALL TIME great sports movie, by the way. Actually, it's just an all time great movie. Yes, it's better than the TV show. Boobie Miles. Mike Winchell. Buddy Garrity. Brian Chavez. The whole lot of em. 

And of course, there's Head Coach Gary Gaines. Sure, it was Hollywoodified and only loosely based on reality, but goddamnit if this isn't one of the best scenes and dialogues in movie history:

And the best part is is that he told Lights Camera Barstool that it was all improvised:

That, my friends, is A+ acting. Shout out to Billy Bob Thornton for dominating that role. I'm sure Coach Gaines was proud. 

Also, yes, I did say the movie is better than the TV show, because it is. It PERFECTLY encapsulates the bonds of teammates with teammates and coaches with teammates. The final scene where Winchell, Billingsly, Chavez and crew toss the football to the younger kids after the state championship game as a way to symbolize a "passing of the torch" to the younger generation will never not make me consider choking up. I've never cried sad tears from a movie, but Friday Night Lights will never not make me come close:

That scene makes me miss being under the lights back when I was 16-17 and makes me miss it to my core. If you say it doesn't for you, you're lying or you rode the bench. 

What a great movie and by all accounts, Coach Gaines lived and incredible life. RIP. What a fucking asshole of a disease.