With the airing of the “Friday Night Lights” series finale on Friday (if you watch on NBC, if you watched on DirecTV, skip ahead a little bit), it marks the end of a program that was an enigma to the entire medium of television. It was well written and shot superbly. It featured actors completely committing to their roles and had an intense, die hard following of fans. And yet, the ratings sucked and if it weren’t for the graces of DirecTV and their executives desire to put original programming on their own network (“The 101” as it was called, now it’s been rebranded as the “Audience Network”) the show would have likely been canned after only two seasons. As it was, DirecTV did save the show, we got 5 seasons out of the Dillon Panthers and the East Dillon Lions, got some of the most fleshed out, fully developed characters that has ever been seen on network television and didn’t only learn, but felt the meaning of “Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose.”
As the show winds down, it’s time for our imaginations to flourish. Where the final shot ends, it’s up to us to fill in the rest of the story however we want for Coach Taylor, Tim Riggins, Buddy Garrity, Smash Williams, Vince Howard and Tyra Collette and the rest of the folks that would be the talk of the town in Dillon, Texas, if Dillon, Texas were real.
Landry graduated college Rice with a degree in Religious Studies and a minor in Women’s Studies. After college he tried to reunite with his former high school band mates of Crucivictorious, but the project ultimately failed when the trio realized they were all heading in different directions musically. Landry retreated to an old trailer on a plot of open land that his dad used for hunting. In his solitude and lack of direction he wrote and recorded an entire album of songs that were extremely well received by the indie rock community. He released the album under the name “Dalig Sommar” (Swedish for Bad Summer) and became an icon among the music industry. Yes, in the Friday Night Lights universe, Landry Clarke is Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
J.D. finished his high school career as a back up to the more highly touted Vince Howard. Marred by stories depicting McCoy as having a lack of character, the recruiting of J.D. went rather lightly. In the end, J.D. earned an opportunity to walk-on at Arkansas (there is no universe in which the University of Arkansas holds its football players to any moral standard) where after two years of sulking he finally earned the starting quarterback job. Once the starter, he racked up plenty of stats, but finished barely above .500. Still he was considered a more than decent NFL prospect and was drafted with the 48th overall pick in the draft. His NFL career was lackluster at best as he was a poor leader and never really worked to improve his skills beyond college. You guessed it (as Mr. Banks has all along), J.D. McCoy is the equivalent of Jimmy Clausen.
After winning two state championships with two different teams in the same city, Vince Howard was in demand. He earned no less than 19 scholarship offers and ultimately selected to attend the University of Nebraska because, in his words, “Nebraska wants to make an impression on the Big Ten, they’re gonna need Vince to do it.”
Vince’s college accomplishments were that of legend, two Big Ten championships, one Rose Bowl victory, one National Championship and two Heisman Trophies. Vince skipped his senior season to enter the NFL draft where he was the first overall pick and led a career of highlight reel plays and dramatic wins, including a Super Bowl victory. At his Hall of Fame induction speech, Howard admitted he still regretted not being the husband of Jess Merriweather, who became the first female head coach of a college football team (Division III Trinity Tigers). The two were married shortly thereafter.
Brian “Smash” Williams succeeded at Texas A&M as the most prolific rusher in Aggie history by breaking the career and single season rushing marks as well as the career touchdown record. That success translated into Smash being a first round draft pick for the Miami Dolphins. Williams fate as an NFL running back never came to fruition as he was injured in his first season and after two seasons of struggling to recover he was finally released. Intent on continuing his football career, Smash signed with the Omaha Nighthawks where he regained his prime form as an elite running back. When the NFL came calling again, Smash chose to stay in the UFL as he would rather be known the best of something rather than just another someone in the NFL ranks.
Billy and Mindy Riggins
The elder Riggins brother might have straightened out his moral compass, but his distaste for birth control held firm. After Billy and Mindy’s first two children they proceeded to have 6 more. Billy’s shop finally began to hit it’s stride and did well enough to provide for the 10 Riggins’ but Billy’s chief concern was that his 5 sons would be Dillon Panthers. Which they were. Mindy now owns the Landing Strip as well (a gift from Tim Riggins)
After Tyra’s relationship with Tim failed because as Tyra put it, “Tim you care more about this damn state than you do about me” (Tim’s response: “Texas Forever”), Tyra left Texas for Hollywood. She attempted her hand at an acting career and was able to land a couple roles in pilots that failed to be picked up by a network. Eventually she gave up acting and ended up marrying a real estate developer who refused to have kids. She cries herself to sleep on a nightly basis. (The Moral of Tyra’s life: If Tim Riggins is going to give you half of his heart, be happy with it, because half of Riggs is more than twice the normal man).
Luke Cafferty (and Becky Sproles)
Luke and Becks were able to keep their relationship alive while Luke was in the Army and Becky remained in high school, however, when Becky decided to go to college, they hit a rocky patch. And by “rocky” I mean Becky spent a night in jail for setting Luke’s car on fire. Luke didn’t press charges and Riggins Rigs offered to fix up the vehicle for Becky so she could avoid further criminal issues. The two spent a few years apart until finally reuniting at a Dillon Panthers homecoming game. They’ve been together ever since. Luke’s parents still hate Becks.
He might be the world’s least qualified sports agent since Master P, but he’s successful nonetheless. He remained in a wheelchair but did have two experimental surgeries that were successful in restoring feeling in his lower extremities. He continued to try and rehab is body so that he could walk on the field for his son’s Parent Night during his senior football season. He succeeded. After the accomplishment, however he still used the wheelchair as his primary use of movement, claiming, “I’m proud that I can walk, but I don’t have to continue to struggle to do so to prove that I can.” Jason now represents more than 30 professional athletes.
Buddy Garrity Jr., Hastings Ruckle and Dallas Tinker
The trio remained close after graduating from Dillon High School and even lived together for a couple years in San Antonio at UT-SA where they all attended college (well, Hastings and Tinker attended, Buddy Jr. dropped out after his sophomore year). Ruckle and Tinker eventually when into business together as recruitment consultants for football and basketball players after receiving a start-up loan from Buddy Sr.
Meanwhile, Buddy Garrity turned down the offer to work with Tinker and Hastings and decided to travel the country “Gypsy-style” with no money or car. Four months into his journey he was charged for breaking into a pharmacy and attempting to steal thousands of dollars worth of pain killers. The authorities in Oregon were not amused. He’ll be able to re-start his journey in 5 years, if he behaves.
Lyla refrained from returning to Dillon after graduating from Vanderbilt upon hearing about Tim Riggins and Tyra Collette living together. She moved to New York where she met and became engaged to a baseball player.
Buddy Garrity Sr.
Buddy expanded his bar & restaurant into a franchising opportunity and became the CEO of Buddy’s Bar which now has 29 locations in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Still living as a bachelor in Dillon, Buddy is the World Wide Wes of Texas High School Football. He negotiates and arranges each and every under the table dealing in the city of Dillon and even it’s surrounding communities. Since we last saw Buddy, he’s been publicly accused in no less than 6 recruiting scandals, each of which he’s been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. He now visits Buddy Jr. at least once a month at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Julie Taylor and Matt Saracen
Julie and Matt were married in Chicago and lived in the city until Julie became pregnant when she was 21. The couple then moved to the nearby suburb of Palos Park where Matt was an art teacher at Carl Sandburg High School and was an assistant football coach for the Eagles. Julie decided she was not going to be a “Coach’s wife” like her mom and left Matt and their daughter. She was last seen at a community college in Montana taking classes and trying to sleep with 18 year old boys. Matt has never officially filed for divorce.
Eric and Tami Taylor
Living in Philadelphia, Eric, Tami and Gracie Belle continued their path of improving their life with each other. Eric finally realized that he was too good for high school football and took a job as an assistant head coach with Villanova. Gracie Belle became the golden child of the Taylor family after Julie left Matt and Harper (their daughter), and even flew out to help Matt baby-sit Harper during her summer vacations when in high school. Eric remained at Villanova until Gracie Belle graduate high school and decided to attend Stanford. Tami, not wanting to live on the opposite coast as Gracie Belle and was named Dean of Admissions at nearby Cal while Eric got the head coaching job at San Jose St. Eric and Tami haven’t spoke to Julie since she left. Only Gracie Belle communicates with Julie, but very rarely and only via email or text.
Following Tyra’s departure to California, Tim decided to take a trip to find Lyla Garrity. He found her with the help of Jason Street, and eventually caused Lyla to call off her engagement to the professional baseball player. However, when Tim tried to bring Lyla back to Dillon, she again broke things off because she needed to live her life outside of Dillon and outside of Texas. Tim returned to Texas and continued to work with his brother and also help out coaching the Dillon Panther running backs. On his 35th birthday he received an invitation to Lyla’s wedding. Tim declined to attend but one year later, he again had the urge to find Lyla and was again able to cause her to end her relationship. This time she did return to Texas but only for a short time. She left him again and was to be married a second time a few years later. She did not invite Tim, but he showed up anyway and walked up the aisle without saying a word, grabbed her hand and led her out of the church into his truck where he drove her back to his house in Dillon. They never spoke of the arrangement nor the moment.
Tim surprised Lyla shortly after their return by setting up a wedding ceremony on his land without ever asking her to marry him. Those in attendance included Eric and Tami Taylor, Lyla’s mother and step-father, Buddy Garrity, Jason Street and his wife and Billy and Mindy and their 8 kids. Lyla and Tim never left Texas again.Follow paulmbanks