TEN YEARS HAVE PASSED since the publication of Friday Night Lights, and still its words continue to influence and reverberate. Barely a week goes by without my getting a call or comment about it. Over the past decade I have heard strange and remarkable stories of the book's impact -- a man who left his job in Brooklyn so he could become a football coach in Texas, a songwriter who wrote a ballad inspired by the book, teenagers forsaking Florida to make spring break pilgrimages to Odessa. When readers tell me they have been touched by this book in a way that no other has ever touched them, their words leave me humbled.
How did it all happen? Why did it all happen? In light of the controversy that erupted in Odessa after the book was published and the accusations of betrayal that still ring in certain corners today, are there any regrets about what I wrote?
I have had ten years to think about it all, ten years to examine what it was that catapulted this book into the reading consciousness of so many, ten years to examine the harsh judgments made of me as well as my own decisions about the words I chose and the words I did not, ten years too to think about this team that I grew to know so intimately during a remarkable year of my life. I adored the players on the Permian Panthers, whose lives I followed during the 1988 season. It is a feeling that still stays with me. Memories crease through me at unexpected times -- the awesome silence in the locker room with those eyes locked tight, the gleaming shape of a playoff trophy held high as another rung on the ladder of goin' to state is climbed, the thrust of a fist into a wall in the helplessness of defeat, the silence of the plains suddenly broken by adoring screams.
I still think of how it all began, in the rocket ship of Ratliff Stadium, on a sweet and still night, when those teenage boys crashed through the handheld banner that had been made for them by