Gridiron Gang

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Gridiron Gang is a 2006 American sports drama films about teenagers at a juvenile detention center, under the leadership of their counselor, who gain self-esteem by playing football together. It is loosely based on the true story of the Kilpatrick Mustangs during the 1990 season.

Directed by Phil Joanou. Written by Jeff Maguire
One goal. A second chance.

Sean Porter[edit]

  • [First lines] Most 16, 17-year-old kids, they make a bad choice, something gets broken, they screw up in class, hurt somebody's feelings, show up at the prom drunk, they get sent to the principal's office, have their car keys taken away, or get grounded. Then there's kids, they make a bad choice, somebody ends up shot dead in a parkin' lot. Those kids get sent here.
  • Then let's try the impossible, because the possible just ain't workin'.
  • It's time to prove to everyone out there that even though you're locked up, you are somebody.
  • Lemme tell you somethin' else, I still don't believe that they're 38 points better than you. I still don't believe that they're the better team. I would not trade you for them. I want you to hold your heads up high.
  • I know you're a good football player. You may even be great. And I am gonna push you until we find out.
  • Ya got nobody but yourself, but, goddamn it, that's all you need. Believe in yourself and knock me on my ass!
  • Next time you get the ball, hang on to it. Don't give it back!

Willie Weathers[edit]

  • They ain't that good, man. We're better. And it means much more to us. You know? When this all started, man, coach, he said we'd be winners. I thought he was full of shit, man. I hated y'all. Didn't want no part of it. But then we made a team. We showed people somethin'. Coach is right. We changed. We're not losers no more. All we gotta do is go out there and show it one more time. You know what I'm sayin'?

Leon Hayes[edit]

  • Yeah. I played games. I play Madden!


[Sean Porter hits Roger Weathers with his newspaper]
Roger Weathers: Mr. Porter?
Sean Porter: Gettin' beatin' in the middle of the night, how'd you like it, Roger? You like that?
[Sean hits him again]
Roger: Whatchu hitting me for?!
Sean: What you hit Kelvin Owens for?!
Roger: He dissed my 'hood!
Sean: And now he's out there asleep and you're stuck in here. So what does that make you?
[Sean hits him again]
Roger: Hey, man. Can you do dat?
Sean: Can I do what?
Roger: Be smackin' me and shit.
[Sean hits him harder]
Sean: I guess I can.
Roger: SHIT, man!!!
[Roger sits down on the floor, and Sean drops his newspaper on the floor]
Sean: Roger, you're 17-years-old. Where you gonna be in four years, huh?
Roger: I don't know.
Sean: Answer me. Where you gonna be when you're 21?
Roger: Probably in jail.
Sean: What? Look at me! What'd you say?
Roger: In jail.
Sean: No. You're not gonna be in jail. You're gonna be dead.
[Sean bends down to talk with Roger]
Sean: You're a good kid, Roger. But you're gonna be back out on the streets tomorrow. Back in your hood with your homeys. You wanna stay alive, you gotta make a life for yourself outside of your set. If you don't do that, if you don't find an alternative, you're gonna die. If you want any kinda help, if you want to talk, I'm here for you.
[Sean stands up, grabs the newspaper, and walks away]
Sean: Think about it.

[After one of the youth inmates is sent to "the box" for starting a fight with another inmate]
Sean: Christ, Malcolm, what are we doin' here? We're like goddamn sheepherders. We fatten 'em up and put 'em right back on the street where they get slaughtered.
Malcolm Moore: Tell me about it.
Sean: [Looks at the other inmates] We're not even making a dent.

Sean: Listen, Paul, we convince a kid to stop gangbanging, all we do is create a void. And unless we fill that void with somethin' better, we're gonna lose 'em. According to the teaching staff, the kids here have trouble being punctual, responding to authority, being a member of a team, and accepting criticism. What one activity can improve 'em on all these areas?
Paul Higa: You wanna start a football team?
Sean: Exactly.
Paul: Sean, look at them. Our whole system's designed to prevent them from making contact.
Sean: Our whole system right now is a joke.
Ted Dexter: Malcolm, you're not buying into this, are you?
Malcolm: Seventy-five percent of our kids end up back in jail. How much worse could it be?
Ted: Well, who are they gonna play against?
Sean: I'll find 'em high school teams to play.
Ted: Wait a minute, you wanna take 'em out of the camp? You really think you can trust these kids?
Sean: Not now, no. But if they were a football team...
Ted: Oh, come on, Sean. It's-it's impossible.
Sean: Then let's try the impossible, because the possible just ain't workin'. Paul, we've got to give these kids a target and we've gotta fill that void. You played football, didn't you?
Paul: Defensive end. Second Team All League. All right, we'll give it a try. But your neck is way out on this.

[Sean is recruiting players for the new football team]
Sean: You wanna play football with this team, you're gonna live with the team, eat with the team, and work with the team.
Miguel Perez: Is practice gonna be hard?
Sean: It's a lot harder than five homeboys beatin' up a security guard, Perez.
Perez: Then I'm in.
Sean: How 'bout you, Bates?
Kenny Bates: [Nervous] I don't know.
Sean: Don't be scared.
Bates: I'm not scared.
Sean: You're on the team.
Leon Hayes: Yo. I'll play quarterback.
Sean: You got any experience, Leon?
Leon: Man, I got so much experience I could give some away and still have more than I could use.
Sean: All right.
Junior Palaita: I'll play.
Sean: I can't use you, Junior.
Junior: Why not?
Sean: 'Cause you got no discipline. You'll be tryin' to start fights every time I turn my back.
Junior: You ain't even gonna give me a chance?
Sean: You've had plenty of chances. Who else? [Turns to Kelvin Owens] How 'bout you, Owens? You played defensive back, didn't you? For Washington? [Kelvin doesn't answer] You wanna check your calendar and get back to me? Or maybe you got another liquor store to rob.
Kelvin Owens: Yeah, I'll play.
Sean: How 'bout you, Evans?
Jamal Evans: I mean, I played Pop Warner when I was younger but that's about it, though.
Sean: You're on the team.
Bug Wendal: I got experience. I played for, like, three years.
Sean: What position'd you play?
Bug: Out to the side.
Sean: Was that out to the side on offense or defense?
Bug: If the ball's thrown from... man, I don't know what I'm talkin'.
Sean: All right, Bug. How 'bout you be water boy?
Bug: Cool.
Sean: All right.
Donald Madlock: Yo, Mr. Porter. Can I play?
Sean: You're getting out in a week, Madlock.
Madlock: I wanna stay in.
Sean: You wanna stay in jail?
Madlock: Yeah, man. South Central in summertime gets hot. Gets crazy. People start shootin' each other and stuff.
Sean: I'll talk to your case worker. All right?
Madlock: All right.
Sean: [To Willie Weathers] New booty? What's your name?
Willie Weathers: Willie Weathers.
Sean: Get vertical when you talk to me. [Willie stands up] You any relation to Roger Weathers?
Willie: He was my cousin, man.
Sean: I want you to play on this team, Willie.
Willie: Naw, man, it's a'ight.
Sean: You're playin'.
Willie: Why?
Sean: 'Cause I want you to live longer than your cousin.
Leon: Hey. Who we gonna play against?
Sean: We'll let you know.

[Sean is about to coach the new football players on the first day of practice]
Sean: All right, everybody, listen up. Whatever neighborhood you came from, whatever gang you claim, whatever hood you're from, this is your hood now. You're no longer a Blood, no longer a Crip, no longer an esé. You're Mustang. This football program will be three-pronged. Number one, the dorm. You're gonna have to learn to get along with people from other neighborhoods. Different backgrounds. Number two, school. You're gonna have to apply yourself. Become a better student. And number three, the gridiron.
Bug: Hey, coach. What's the gridiron?
Sean: You're standin' on the gridiron. The gridiron is a football field. On the gridiron, we play football. On the gridiron, we do it my way. Not your way, my way. Your way got you here. And you're here, 'cause ya lost. Right now, you're losers. Mustangs are winners. And if you accept this challenge, when it's all over come December, you're gonna be winners.

[After a hard week of football practice]
Sean: All right, bring it in. Great practice, great practice. Way to work, way to work. Everybody in close. Get in close. Take a knee. You guys worked really hard this week. You should be proud. You haven't heard that a whole lot, have you? You've earned it. Boys, it's a whole new world out there when you earn things. All right, bring it in. Everybody in. Everybody in. Mustangs on three. One, two, threeǃ (Everyone: "MUSTANGSǃ")

[Sean finds Junior out on the football field at night]
Sean: You got a pass, Junior?
Junior: I had a phone call.
Sean: From who?
Junior: It's my boy's birthday, man. He's two-years-old. He's two-years-old and I missed it. I wanna be a Mustang, coach.
Sean: Why should I trust you?
Junior: 'Cause I ain't gonna mess up.
Sean: That's what you told the judge the last time you got out.
Junior: No more. I'm tired of bein' a loser, man. Makin' a mess of everything. Coach, I wanna show people I can play. I can do somethin' with my life. I just wanna make my son proud.

[Sean breaks up a fight between Willie and Kelvin, both of whom are from rival gangs]
Sean: What was that about?!
Willie: Man, just send me to the boxǃ
Sean: No, you start trouble on a football field, we finish it on a football fieldǃ
Willie: I ain't doin' shit wit 'imǃ
Sean: Why not?!
Willie: Was his set smoked Rajaǃ
Kelvin: 88s killed my best friendǃ
Sean: Shut upǃ How long your sets been at war?
Kelvin: Ancient times, dude.
Sean: How'd it get started? You even know?
Kelvin: They started that shit, dawgǃ
Willie: Man, that's a goddamn lieǃ
Sean: Shut upǃ Willie, lemme ask you something. How'd you feel when Roger died? Did you cry? How 'bout you, Kelvin? How did you feel when your friend was killed? Did you cry?
Kelvin: Yes, sir, I did.
Sean: Yeah. So it's just gonna go on like this forever? Killin' each other 'cause ya live five blocks in the wrong direction? How 'bout we call a peace right here? [Both boys refuse] Goddamn it, why not?!
Willie: I mean, we just, like, little gangsters. It wouldn't even mean nothin'.
Sean: It'd mean somethin' here. Right here, right now, it would mean somethin'.

[As the Mustangs prepare for their first game in the locker room]
Sean: This is it. The day you've been waitin' for. I know you're nervous. So am I. My first game too. Now it's time to go out there and put it on the scoreboard. Now it's time to see who has the heart. Now is the time to prove to yourselves and prove to everybody out there that even though you're locked up, you are somebody. And you are worthy of somethingǃ And you're able to do something special that no one else in the world can do, which you can walk through those doors, hold your heads up high and call yourselves Mustangsǃ Are you ready to go out there and take what's yours? (Players: "Yeahǃ") What you've worked hard for? (Players: "Yeahǃ") Are you ready to accept the Mustang challenge? [The players cheer] Lead usǃ Lead usǃ

[After the Mustangs have lost 38-0 by the Barrington Panthers]
Sean: First one is always the toughest. We made a lotta mistakes out there today. All of us. Me too.
Willie: No shit.
Sean: They were ready. They've been playin' together for three years. We've been together for three weeks. Lemme tell you somethin' else. I still don't believe that they're 38 points better than you. I still don't believe they're the better team. I would not trade you for them. I want you to hold your heads up high. We got nine games left. We're just gonna have to work harder.

[After Willie finally knocks him down during practice]
Malcolm: You know you're a idiot, right?
Sean: I've been making progress. 'Cause I used to be an asshole.

[Sean visits Willie, who has been sent to "the box" after getting into a fight with a former gang member]
Sean: I just got back from the hospital. Kelvin's gonna be okay.
Willie: Better for me if the nigga was dead.
Sean: Ya think so? I really don't think it matters 'cause you're screwed either way, Willie. Your homeys know what you did yesterday. So you go back to the hood, they're gonna put a bullet in your head, 'cause they think you're not down for the set anymore. No matter what you say now. You know what? I think they're right.
Willie: Manǃ [Lunges at Sean before being put into a chokehold]
Sean: You better be good to me, asshole, 'cause I'm all you gotǃ [Lets go of Willie]
Willie: Man, fuck youǃ [Throws a pillow at Sean]
Sean: Who else cares about you?!
Willie: I don't need nobody elseǃ
Sean: You don't give a shit about me or anybody elseǃ
Willie: Man, that's rightǃ
Sean: Then why'd you try to save Kelvin yesterday?! Huh? Answer me thatǃ Why'd you side with the enemy over your own homeboy?!
Willie: Man, 'cause-a youǃ And this damn football team, manǃ
Sean: That's bullshitǃ You made a choiceǃ
Willie: No, I didn'tǃ I ain't even what was happenin' to meǃ It was just so... everything so quickǃ I don't what's happenin' to me, man. [Sits down on his bed and begins crying]
Sean: I do. You're not the loser you were when you first got here, Willie. You're just not used to bein' a winner.
Willie: My father said I was a waste of his time and his money.
Sean: Your father was a loser, Willie. My old man was the same way. He spent so much time tellin' me I was nothin'. I believed him.
Willie: That why you so pissed off all the time?
Sean: Yeah, that's probably got somethin' to do with it. [Sits down with Willie] I know how you feel, Willie. You get to the point where you expect to screw up. You expect to fail. If we wanna win, we gotta let 'em go. Forgive 'em and move on.
Willie: Forgive 'em?
Sean: Forgive 'em. Otherwise we give 'em too much power over us. And they don't deserve it.
Willie: Well, how long it take you to forgive your dad?
Sean: [Stares deep into space and thought for a moment] Till just now. Till just now.
Willie: Kelvin's gonna be okay?
Sean: Yeah.
Willie: Whole football team's done, though, huh?
Sean: Maybe not.

Sean: We played the championship game the next week. We lost 17-14. But we played a helluva game. And no one called us losers. I told 'em, far as I was concerned, they were champs. Since then all the kids have been released. 24 are goin' to school. Three are working full-time jobs. And only five are back in jail. That's a lot better than the average failure rate of 75 percent. After his release, Junior Palaita got a job working for a furniture company and lives with his family. Kelvin Owens recovered from his bullet wound. He's gonna play for Washington High next season. Miguel Perez and Donald Madlock went back to their old gangs and are now in California Youth Authority prisons. Kenny Bates is goin' to school in Redondo Beach and living with his mom. Leon Hayes is trying to resist the crack dealer's lifestyle. He's gonna play football for Dorsey High this year. Bug Wendal was killed in a drive-by shooting in Compton. Willie Weathers got a full scholarship to play football for a top boarding school. A school that's long way from 88th Street. And how'd things change for me? Not a whole lot. [Sean is now in his second year as coach for the Kilpatrick Mustangs and is training a whole new team] On the gridiron we do it my way. Not your way, my way. Right now you're all losers. That's why you're in here. 'Cause ya lost. But if you accept this challenge, if you accept the Mustang challenge, then come this December, when it's all over with, I promise you you'll be winners. [First day of practice begins] Ready? (Players: "M-U-S...") Aǃ (Players: "A-N-G-Sǃ Mustangs") [Sean blows his whistle] You don't know how to spell "Mustangs"? You have got to be shitting meǃ All right.
Malcolm: Here we go again.


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