For all the affection I have for “Friday Night Lights,” I did not know that the story of Jason Street was inspired by a real person, a high school athlete who was dealt the same fateful blow on the gridiron as Street faces in the pilot seg of “FNL.”
I didn’t know this until I spotted an obituary in Saturday’s New York Times with the headline: “David Edwards, who inspired TV episode, dies at 20.”
“FNL” shepherd Peter Berg was in the crowd in a Texas high school football arena in November 2003 when Edwards snapped his neck after a collision with the wide receiver, which left him paralyzed. According to the AP obit, he’d been fighting pneumonia for some weeks and then went into a coma.
Edwards died Wednesday at the age of 20. To the millions of “FNL” fans, his legacy will endure in the proud, intelligent and determined character of Jason Street, a man of fortitude and great moral courage who is anything but a victim of his injury. It is to the credit of Berg and the rest of “FNL’s” creative team that they found a thesp to play Street with the level of dignity and heart that Scott Porter (pictured left) brings to the role.