Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) gets most of the coaching credit on Friday Night Lights and for good reason. That man can work wonders with a group of disrespectful, egotistical, hormone-laden teenagers. But when it comes to great life advice you might want to look to the professional, a.k.a. his wife.
Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) was a mother, a wife, and a guidance counselor at Dillon High for years – there’s no faking that kind of experience. Whether she was verbally wrestling with her ungrateful teenage daughter, trying to motivate apathetic students, or giving her husband his own halftime speech, Tami had a gift for blending compassion and empathy with solid, no-nonsense advice.
The next time you need a pep talk, let these words from Mrs. T encourage and guide you.
“You’re gonna win. Or you’re gonna lose. Either way, the sun’s gonna come up the next morning.”
Sugar coatin’ things doesn’t always make them easier to swallow. Tami knew that. It’s why, when her husband came to her the night before the Panthers played for the state championship, she didn’t fill his head with wishful thinking. There was a good chance the team would lose that game, that Coach Taylor could lose his job, and that the family’s life might change forever – and they both knew it.
Tami was there with words of wisdom that managed to be comforting despite their rough edges. She reminded us all that no matter how overwhelming the moment might feel, there’s always tomorrow. Life goes on. Pull up your britches and get to it.
“It’s part of my job to make sure you don’t grow up stupid. It’s bad for the world.”
Counseling hormonal teenagers with inflated egos and zero respect for authority might seem like a thankless job, but we were grateful for this piece of advice Mrs. T gave Tim Riggins when it came to his performance off the football field. We all get where Riggins was coming from – no one particularly enjoyed being force-fed morality lessons by Puritans slut-shaming young pregnant women a la The Scarlet Letter – but Tami knew that if the athlete didn’t commit to bettering his mind (and doing his homework), not even football would guarantee him a better life once he graduated. Maybe you’re not a high school running back with shaggy hair and a worrisome drinking problem, but the message still applies. Crack a book, read the newspaper, scroll through your Twitter feed, just invest in something with some semblance of educational value every day. The world will thank you for it.
“There’s no weakness in forgiveness.”
Tami Taylor was a straight-shooter, but the reason she was so damn good at her job was because she genuinely cared about people. When Jason Street came to her for advice after finding out his girlfriend had cheated on him with his best friend, she could’ve easily told him to move on, that she wasn’t worth it and he’d find someone better. Instead, she knew the best thing for Street would be for him to forgive. For some reason, the idea of forgiveness is equated with weakness. You’re weak if you forgive a cheater, weak if you forgive a friend who’s betrayed you, weak if you forgive a parent that abandoned you. Instead, Tami taught us the hidden power of the word and how pointless it is to hold onto things that only drag you down.
“Barbecues build morale. That’s why you have them.”
Being a coach’s spouse is a delicate balancing act. You have to be supportive while also maintaining your sanity as a wife, mother, and human being. It can be hard sometimes – like when you’re asked to host close to one hundred hungry football players for dinner – but, as Tami Taylor says, “barbecues build morale,” and when your newly-minted school team has their criminal records leaked to the press before a big game, you’re in need of a lot of morale-building. Remember that the next time you burden your employees with another useless meeting or deliver the news that pay raises aren’t coming this year. Roasted meat and beer won’t make everything okay, but it can soften the blow of bad news.
“You never know what’s going on with somebody. Don’t take it personally.”
The Dillon Panthers had a lot more to contend with than just winning football games and showing up to class on time. Some were doing drugs, some were ghosting their paralyzed best friend, and still others were involved in homicidal cover-ups that slowly caused them to lose their minds. It’s no wonder Tami had this excuse ready whenever Coach Taylor struggled to understand his players or Julie complained about carrying on an affair with her married college professor. (No one cares about you Julie. Take a hint.) Maybe that snarky barista or short-tempered coworker isn’t stressed because their dad’s a drug dealer or they’re hooked on painkillers thanks to a serious farming accident, but you never really know what’s going on with someone, and it’s best to not make assumptions about their behavior after just one encounter.
“You belong anywhere you want.”
Whether it was consoling Julie, mentoring students, or managing a horde of football players who believed the game was the only thing they were meant for, Tami never had a problem busting stereotypes for other people. Take Tyra, a young woman who relied on her looks to get ahead in life and rarely put in the effort when it came to her grades. Her future was all but set before Mrs. T made it possible for her to believe in herself again. The world is filled with people that will tell you what you should do and where you should go in life. Don’t listen to them. Listen to Tami Taylor.
“Honey, hypocrites are everywhere.”
In a town like Dillon, Texas, it’s important to remember humanity’s immeasurable potential for flagrant hypocrisy. Your neighbor might be working at the Landing Strip one day, and gossiping about a “loose” woman the next. Your local car dealer might be cheating on his wife and lying to his family but take offense when you keep certain personal decisions – like the fact that you’re taking a coaching job somewhere else – a little too personally. As a good, southern woman, Tami knew that dealing with hypocrites is just a fact of life – a lesson she tried to teach Julie when she refused to go to church. You don’t have to like ’em, or be like ’em, but save yourself some outrage and moral indignation and just get used to the fact that they’re everywhere and they’re shameless.
“… I got that going for me. And wine.”
When suffering through the many injustices of life – like getting booed at high school pep rallies – it’s important to remember the little things that give you joy. True happiness is made of up of these little things, be it the opportunity to publicly stick it to the man who cost your husband his job, or a full glass of good wine before bed. Whatever brings you bliss, be sure to do more of it.