The author makes commentary on his book ten years after it was published. He thanks the six players who allowed him to intrude into their worlds. He follows this with what has happened to each of them over those ten years.
Brian Chavez became a lawyer and opened his own office.
Jerrod McDougal went to Odessa College but never earned a degree. He went to work for his father’s oil field construction. He feels emotionally stunted by his memories of Permian, but thinks there is a beauty to what he and his teammates shared and will always share.
Don Billingsley began to study actively for the first time and was born again in his faith. He remained at East Central University and graduated with a degree in public relations in 1993. He did counseling work in Oklahoma City and then moved to Norman. He married and now feels good about his life.
Mike Winchell went to Baylor, but left when he ran out of money and realized he was never going anywhere with football. Then he went to Texas Tech for a semester and finally transferred to Tarleton State and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1995. In 1998, he was working as an independent surveyor in Decatur, Texas. He said he didn’t care about the book anymore.
Ivory Christian played football at Texas Christian, but dropped off the team in 1990. He just didn’t care about it anymore. He eventually received his associate’s degree at Odessa College and moved to Austin to work for the Texas Aircraft Pooling Board. He was beginning to take some pride in his Permian experience.
Boobie Miles flunked out of Ranger College. He tried semi-pro football in Culpeper, Virginia and then held a series of jobs involving warehouse work. Life has not been economically easy for him and it’s hard not to think what would have happened to him if he hadn’t caught his cleat in the turf of Jones Stadium. His uncle L.V. died of heart complications in 1998, but Boobie has continued working on to provide for his family that includes four children.
As for the impact of Friday Night Lights, the author points out that it set off a storm of controversy in Odessa that still flares at the mere mention of the title. He even had to cancel a book signing there out of fear for his safety. In 1990, Permian was banned from taking part in the playoffs, because they were caught conducting supervised workouts before the start of the season. They were turned in by the coach of their cross-town rival, Odessa. There was real concern at what might happen between these two teams when they played their regularly scheduled game. But the fears turned out to be for nothing as Permian once again beat Odessa High 24-6. However, the animosity over his book never died down. He had anticipated writing a book like Hoosiers, but along the way, some other things came out – the ugliest racism he had ever seen, utterly misplaced educational priorities, and a town that had lost the ability to judge itself. Journalistically, he couldn’t ignore these elements. It was fair and true and to some Odessans it was a bit like medicine – perhaps it was bitter to taste and it probably had some bad side-effects that were hard to shake, but the dose also healed a few ills.” Today the fanatic behavior has been tempered somewhat and there has been a shift in priorities, the consequence of which the glory of Permian football is at an all-time low.
Gary Gaines left after winning the state championship in 1990. He was replaced by Randy Mayes, one of his assistant coaches. During Mayes’ first two seasons, he led the Panthers to the state semifinals and the state championship and then it all fell apart. The team lost to Odessa High for the first time in 32 years, and he ended the 1999 season with the worst season ever. Midland High beat Permian for the first time since 1973, 35-3, and Midland Lee beat them on their way to the State Championship. Players began to quit and attendance was way down and the team was in danger of going winless in the district before it beat Odessa High. Randy Mayes hated this book more than anyone, calling it a novel and saying that the author sensationalized life in Odessa. The author mentions that he feels sorry for this coach who, even though he is a good man with a great job paying a great salary, he is the coach when the legend of Permian turns to bitter memory. The author can imagine the pressure, the hurt, and the scornful ridicule heaped upon him. Permian football may have changed somewhat, but it still holds an iron grip on the psyche of Odessa. So the author isn’t surprised by the fate of Randy Mayes. Under the Friday night lights of Odessa, he was fired..
The commentary in this afterword says it all about the iron grip of football in Odessa, Texas, and the terrible glory and consequences from it.