No pain, no gain

From CJ:

You all know I'm a fan of well-told stories whether in movies, on TV, or of course, in books.

What you might not know is that I am also a huge, huge football fan.

My hometown is State College, PA--home of Joe Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lions.

I grew up with "wipe Woody" toilet paper in the bathroom on Ohio State gamedays; can call holding, offsides, or a clip before the refs can pull the flag from their pocket; and probably bleed blue and white.

You can probably guess why I chose "Lyons" for a pen name.

Joe Paterno, Joe Pa to us Lions, is one of my heroes. The man exemplifies sportsmanship. There's no one you could trust more to help his players grow from boys into men.

Here's a quote from Joe, just to show you what I mean: Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger but it won't taste good.

Imagine my delight when I discovered Friday Night Lights, a show set in small town Texas where they live and die with their football team every Friday night.

Just like my small town Pennsylvania and my beloved Lions.

The coach who is charged with making the town's dreams come true while also guiding his players through adolescent trials and tribulations, is Eric Taylor, played by Kyle Chandler.

But the show isn't really about football. It's about becoming a man (or woman).  Staying true to your husband or wife or girlfriend or boyfriend.  Making a mistake and owning up to it. Living with consequences. Learning that maybe the adults you admire aren't perfect but that doesn't mean you can't do better than they have.

It's about life and love and family and honor and dignity and responsibility and pride and heart.

It's about wanting something from yourself and your life, harnessing that passion, and being committed to overcoming everything that stands in your way.

And it's about football.

Friday's season four finale was gripping (as always), jam-packed with honest emotion rather than the typical TV manipulative melodrama. Not everyone got what they wanted, not everyone did the right thing, not everyone was perfect.

But they were trying. And in that trying they exemplified the best in all of us.

Then there was the football game. A real David and Goliath match up between two blood-enemies. In that microcosm of the game--which was maybe 8 minutes of the entire show--an entire war was fought and won. Heroes were born, fell, and rose up once more to redeem themselves.

An entire mythic saga told in eight minutes of football. Coach Taylor's Dillion Lions now have a place in my heart alongside my beloved Nittany Lions.

Yes, I cried. I'll admit it.

This is what stories are meant to do--elevate our souls and show us what's possible.

So why is it that we so rarely find such powerful tales in our popculture today? Or have I just missed them?

You tell me. When's the last time a TV show or movie or book moved you to tears?

And in the words of Coach Eric Taylor: Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can't Lose!

Thanks for reading,

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels and has been called a "master of the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine). Her award-winning, critically acclaimed Angels of Mercy series (LIFELINES, WARNING SIGNS, and URGENT CARE) is available in stores now with the fourth book, CRITICAL CONDITION due out December, 2010. CJ's newest project is as co-author of the first in a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to



  1. Hi CJ,
    One of my favorite shows ever! A quiet little show that doesn't get the buzz many other shows do, but one of the best on TV, imo. And Kyle Chandler is kinda cute, too.

  2. Kinda??? LOL! I love him in everything he does--even the bomb squad guy in Grey's Anatomy (bit part, but he was perfect in it)

    He's just so down-to-earth, an everyman, which makes him perfect for FNL.

    I always love the scenes where he's so absolutely positively certain he's right when arguing with his wife and then most-graciously has to figure how to eat crow when he's proven wrong

  3. Hi CJ - okay I was such a fan of this show in season 1 and 2 but I stopped watching it - I think it was because of the writer's strike - threw me off and they moved it around - so I got off track - but I always thought it was such a well written and compelling show - and Kyle Chandler - very HOT! He is def. romance hero material. ;) Great post!

  4. Joanna,
    I think the writing has even gotten stronger, although the first two seasons really rocked.

    If you have netflix you can watch all three seasons for free.

  5. I haven't seen this one, CJ - but I'll chime in and say that picture of Kyle Chandler is not hard to look at.

    The last show that made me cry was episode 1 of The Pillars of the Earth, the medieval miniseries on Starz & The Movie Network. It had to do with hard decisions a parent had to make, and the nothing-like-today faith that God would sort things out - *tears* I love shows and films that make me cry.

  6. interesting blog, i will visit ur blog very often, hope u go for this website to increase visitor.Happy Blogging!!!

  7. Way to go..we are PENN STATE fans too and we are close to Lewisburg, PA so almost neighbors. I love the sound of your books but have to admit I have not read any YET I hope to soon. We get into LIONS country alot. Such lovely countryside. Have a good day. susan Leech


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