By Ray Schulte, SchulteSports.com
A film based on the life of Baltimore Ravens rookie offensive lineman Michael Oher has captured the hearts, admiration and respect of men, women and children throughout the country.
Even though Oher was first introduced to the world in 2006 with the release of the best-selling book, "The Blind Side," by Michael Lewis, the movie adaptation reintroduces him to the masses, as witnessed by the film's$34.1-million opening weekend.
Growing up in Memphis, Tenn., Oher overcame tremendous adversity in his early life -- his father murdered, his mother a drug addict and basically homeless by age 16. The film depicts Leigh Anne Tuohy’s (Sandra Bullock) rescue of Oher, taking him off the streets, inviting him into her home and providing him the guidance, encouragement and direction to reach his enormous potential.
Oher went on to star at Ole Miss before being drafted by the Ravens with the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. The rookie tackle has stepped into the starter’s role of protecting quarterback Joe Flacco.
Since the release of the movie, Oher has maintained a low profile, choosing not to promote or capitalize on his new-found fame during the season. His focus has remained on helping the Ravens reach the playoffs. Needless to say, the combination of the book, movie, draft status and solid play as a rookie starter has generated considerable interest in Oher-signed collectibles and licensed products.
Beckett magazine reported Oher appears on 153 different football cards so far this year -- 22 autographed. Sales of his cards have been especially strong because of Oher's national exposure, leading those who traditionally don’t collect cards to purchase his.
There is a strong interest in Oher's autographed items. His 2009 Upper Deck Icons Autograph card (No. 125), which initially sold for about $20 is now going for as much as $80. In a recent SchulteAuctions.com online auction, an Oher-signed, Wilson-replica football went for $145.
Oher has made only one personal autograph appearance in the Baltimore area this year -- Nov. 25 at the Great Moments store in White Marsh. A long line wrapped around the building with people willing to wait a considerable amount of time to meet Oher and get his autograph. The majority of items signed were 8x10 photographs, mini-helmets and “The Blind Side” movie posters.
The strong response and demand for Oher's autographs and collectibles can be linked to the release of “The Blind Side," but for Oher to sustain and grow that established value, he must continue to excel on the field for years to come.
Issue 144: December 2009