This ‘Friday Night Lights’ Character’s Story Was Based on a Real Football Player

by Chase Thomas
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There are not many shows as iconic as “Friday Night Lights” was for the time that it was on NBC. The show that highlighted the Dillon Panthers in West Texas was a smash hit and immediately became a cult classic. Part of the appeal of FNL was how accurate it was about the culture of high school football in Texas and the South as a whole. Well, this “Friday Night Lights” character’s story was based on a real football player. Yes, quarterback Jason Street was actually based on a real player.

Street was based on a real high school player from Buzz Bissinger’s book, David Edwards. Yes, Edwards, like Street, was hit during a game and became paralyzed from the neck down.

Edwards, tragically, passed away in 2008 after a bout with pneumonia just before his 21st birthday.

Zach Gilford on “Friday Night Lights”

You won’t find many TV characters as easy to root for as Matt Saracen on “Friday Night Lights”. No, Saracen’s rise as the Dillon high school QB1 was one that fans never forgot. He was never supposed to be the guy under center for Coach Taylor, but he did not have a choice after Street’s injury. It quickly became Saracen’s team.

Saracen had a lot on his plate, though. He worked in fast food, deal with school, took of his grandmother and did all of it without his own parents around. Not to mention he would eventually fall for the coach’s daughter. The first season of the program on NBC is all about his rise to the top and what all it took for Dillon to win a state title after losing their phenom quarterback early in the season.

Add that to the J.D. McCoy storyline that came later and Saracen was a character that folks could just not forget.

Gilford told GQ, “Sometimes it will happen a lot in a week. Sometimes it won’t happen for a month. People will stop me: “You look exactly like that guy from Friday Night Lights.” I don’t really want to out myself. [If] they say “Are you…” I’m not going to lie. But if they’re just like, “You look like…” I’m like, “Oh, okay. See you later.”

Folks still recognize Matt Saracen today.

Gilford added, “There were four times in Chicago where people were like, “Oh, you look like him. That’s so crazy!” And got to the point where I was like, “It’s me. I am [him].” And they’d say, “You’re a ——- liar.” And they’d walk away.”

Hilarious story from Gilford. Folks still to this day continue to recognize Saracen when Gilford is out because he meant a lot to so many folks. You can watch “Friday Night Lights” on NBC.

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