30 Things You Never Knew About ‘Remember The Titans’
“Remember the Titans” is one of the most memorable sports movies in cinema history. With a star-studded cast, great characters, and plenty of inspirational scenes, the film will live on as one of the greatest sports movies ever. But while the movie was a smashing success, some cast members and fans have pointed out that the movie doesn’t tell the full story of what actually happened to the Titans. The movie has faced some backlash over a controversy or two, and some hidden secrets from the film have upset fans. Here are some of the secrets and lies that were told.
1. Were all of the Titans players in the movie based on actual people?
Yes and no. The majority of characters in “Remember the Titans” are based on actual people, but some characters in the movie were made up for dramatic effect. Ryan Gosling’s character, for example, is not a real person. The movie shows Alan Bosley giving up his spot to Pete during a game, but that does not actually happen.
Another fictionalized character is Ray Budds. In the movie, Ray was kicked off the team by captain Gerry Bertier because he is not accepting of his black teammates. Members of the team have stated a bigot like Ray would have been kicked off the team before the season even started.
2. Did Coach Herman Boone actually integrate the buses?
Yes, Coach Boone really integrated the buses. In an interview with ESPN, the coach said he “forced [his players] on each other.” Boone wanted to make sure the players were a part of each other’s lives, even if it meant forcing it on them.
However, the racial tension in “Remember the Titans” isn’t depicted as accurately as you may have thought. Players on the team may have felt animosity towards one another, but that was more in a competitive sense of trying to earn a place on the roster. The idea that the football team heroically overcame racism throughout the season is just a bit overblown.
3. Was there racial tension on the team?
No, there wasn’t. Though Coach Boone, Coach Yoast, and even some players have acknowledged tensions ran high at camp, it existed due to the competition for spots on the team. In an interview, Ronnie Bass said he was just trying to make the team.
Screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard even acknowledged some of the film’s flaws in an interview with USA Today. “Yeah right,” he said. “Who wants to say ‘I hated [black people]?’ Who wants to say ‘I hated white people? [or that] we hated each other?'” All in all, there was just some competitiveness in the Titans’ locker room that would be normal for any high school football team.
4. Was T.C. Williams High School integrated in 1971?
“Remember the Titans” made a few changes to evoke more emotions in the movie, and this was one of them. T.C. Williams High School, home of the Titans, was not integrated in 1971. A major theme of the movie is the high school’s coming together as the team breaks through racial strife. However, this is not true.
T.C. Williams High School was actually integrated years before the Titans won the championship. The high school and team certainly may have dealt with racial tensions at some point or another, but the movie’s depiction of the school being integrated right before the 1971 season began is untrue.
5. Did Coach Boone really wake the team up at 3 a.m. and make them run to Gettysburg Cemetery?
No, the dramatic cemetery workout did not happen. That’s not to say Coach Boone didn’t give motivational speeches to his team. As you might expect, Coach Boone loved to inspire his team through speeches. But taking his team to a cemetery to do it? That’s not quite accurate.
However, the team did tour the battlefields on the Sunday they were at camp. But it was the guide who did most of the talking — not Coach Boone. The message of the coach’s pep talks wasn’t quite accurate, either. The coach emphasized the importance of trying your hardest in most of his speeches, not winning.
6. Were Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell real-life best friends?
In “Remember the Titans,” the friendship between Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell grew from hatred to one of the most inspiring relationships in movie history. But was that friendship real, or was it just dramatized to make for a more compelling movie?
As it turns out, the awesome relationship Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell shared in the movie wasn’t exactly the way it was in real life. Though Bertier and Campbell were friends, they weren’t best friends like they were made out to be in “Remember the Titans.” The two were friends, just as many players on the Titans were friends.
7. Was Gerry Bertier’s girlfriend Emma based on a real person?
No. Emma Hoyt was actually a fictional character in “Remember the Titans.” In the movie, Bertier and Hoyt were in a committed relationship, until they eventually split up. But not everything you see in the movies is true. In real life, Bertier was very focused on football — probably too focused to be able to invest a lot of his time into a relationship.
It’s said the character of Emma Hoyt was created to demonstrate some of the negative traits and belief systems that were instilled into the youth of that time. Gerry and Emma split up after she would not accept the friendship Gerry shared with Julius Campbell.
8. Did Ronnie Bass (Sunshine) really kiss Gerry Bertier on the lips?
Adding some cinematic controversy seems to be a recurring theme. The scene in the movie where the star quarterback nicknamed “Sunshine” jokingly kisses team captain Gerry Bertier on the lips did not actually happen in real life. The film implies that Bass may, in fact, be gay, but that is also untrue. In fact, that’s not the only fabrication the movie made when it comes to “Sunshine.”
Ronnie Bass was known as the player on the Titans who had long hair. But while that may be true, “Sunshine” was far from the only player with long hair. In fact, team captain Gerry Bertier also had long hair.
9. Was Sheryl Yoast really an only child who lived with her father?
In the film, Coach Yoast’s daughter is an only child who spends most of her free time at football practice with her dad. However, this is actually another example of “Remember the Titans” exaggerating things to make the movie more emotional.
Sheryl Yoast was not an only child. In fact, she had three sisters. The cherry on top? Sheryl lived with her mother. Bill Yoast wasn’t a fan of the creative decision. “I have four daughters,” he said. “I don’t like to look like I only have one daughter.” Sheryl Yoast passed away from an undetected heart condition in 1996, well before the movie was even made.
10. Was Gerry Bertier the star football player he was made out to be?
In “Remember the Titans,” Bertier is the heart and soul of a persistent Titans team that never quit. But though he was considered a star on the team in the movie, Bertier was much more than that in real life. The linebacker may have been the heart of his team, but he was actually one of the most skilled players in the country.
Bertier was a nationally-ranked defensive player and the first All-American football player in the history of Alexandria, Virginia. After completing his senior year, Bertier received awards for First Team All-Region, All-State and All-American honors. He was also approached by elite football programs, such as Notre Dame and Alabama.
11. Did Coach Boone really toss a banana at a rival coach at the end of a game?
By this point, it should be clear that “Remember the Titans” exaggerates the racial component of the movie’s plot a lot. One of the movie’s most memorable scenes involves coach Herman Boone tossing a banana to a rival coach after his Titans won a heated game.
Earlier in the movie, the opposing coach says he’s not going to do anything to help that monkey, referring to Coach Boone. After the two coaches face off and Boone comes out on top, he tosses a banana to the other coach. It’s a great scene in the movie, but it was fictionalized. In fact, even the opposing coach in the movie is a made-up character.
12. Were the Titans always viewed as the underdogs, like the movie implies?
The Titans may have been viewed as underdogs at the beginning of their dominant run, but most teams in sports gradually shift from underdogs to favorites as they continue to win games. This was almost certainly the case with T.C. Williams High School, despite their portrayal as underdogs in “The Blind Side.”
The Titans were dominant throughout 1971, and that’s putting it lightly. Not only did the team win every game of the season, but nine of their 13 victories were shutouts. T.C. Williams High School ranked second in the nation at the end of the year, after outscoring their opponents by a margin of 338-38. That’s a stark contrast from how they were seen in the film.
13. Did the Titans have a trademark song and dance they’d come out to before games?
As the team becomes a more cohesive unit throughout the movie, players start to sing and dance to a variety of tunes. Signature music and dancing seemed to become a part of the Titans as the movie progressed, with several iconic scenes involving locker room songs or choreographed dances.
Hollywood’s interpretation of the Titans in this instance was a bit off. The team would occasionally sing during pregame warm-ups, and they even did some pad-slapping and rhythmic clapping when they were introduced. But none of it was to the extent it was made out to be on the big screen.
14. Did protesters stand outside of T.C. Williams High School on the first day of classes?
Here’s another inaccuracy with “Remember the Titans.” In the movie, protesters stood outside the Titans’ high school on the first day to oppose the team. Parents and fans couldn’t stand the idea that the team was integrated, or that a black coach was instructing their white kids on how to play football.
In reality, there were no protesters outside of the high school on its first day. The school had been integrated for years. While some prejudiced individuals may have had problems with integration, they were likely a minority by 1971. However, nearby George Washington Junior High School did have some fights and a rock-throwing incident.
15. Were the Titans the only integrated team in their conference?
Before the first game of the season, coach Boone tells his players, “like all the other schools in the conference, [the other team is] all white. They don’t have to worry about race. We do.” This quote sounds good in his inspirational pre-game speech, but it isn’t accurate.
T.C. Williams High School isn’t the only school in the conference that had been integrated by 1971. In fact, all the other schools the Titans faced in 1971 were integrated by that point. The concept of being the only integrated team in the conference makes “Remember the Titans” a more powerful movie, but the movie heavily embellishes the truth in order to make a point.
16. Did referees try to fix a game against the Titans?
One memorable scene from “Remember the Titans” involves the referees making several calls against the Titans, almost as if they’re trying to make them lose. Coach Yoast believes the referees are trying to make his team lose so Coach Boone is fired and Yoast becomes the head coach. He confronts the referee and threatens to expose their plot to make the Titans lose.
Though it’s a great scene, the scenario described in the movie is fabricated. Sure, the Titans got bad calls like any other team. And maybe some of the bad calls had something to do with race. “But it was not as overt as appears in the film,” said Coach Boone.
17. Was Coach Yoast’s daughter Sheryl as big of a football fanatic as she appeared in the movie?
In “Remember the Titans,” Sheryl appears to be the biggest football fan in the world. She follows her dad around at practice, yells at players on the field when they don’t make the right play, and cheers louder than any other fan in the stadium when the Titans score. But is the real Sheryl as much of a football fan as the on-screen version of herself?
Coach Yoast admits Sheryl wasn’t as big a fan as the movie makes her out to be. “She was not quite the football fanatic they show here,” Yoast said. “[But] she was at all the ball games, watched them, and was always the first on the field after the ball game.”
18. Were Titans players actually refused service in a restaurant?
One emotional scene in “Remember the Titans” depicts two Titans players being refused service when they entered a restaurant, on the basis of race. Black running back Petey Jones and white quarterback Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass enter the restaurant, but they’re shooed out by a racist restaurant owner who refuses to serve African-Americans.
It’s possible other restaurants in the area could have had similar attitudes at the time, but this specific incident is a fictional device the movie used to emphasize racial tensions that were building up throughout the city. Petey Jones and “Sunshine” Bass were not refused service in a restaurant during the Titans’ winning streak.
19. Did someone throw a brick through Coach Boone’s window?
No, someone did not throw a brick through Coach Boone’s window. Actually, it was was much worse than a brick. But likely because Disney is a family movie production company, the film does not display the item that was actually thrown through Coach Boone’s window.
The object that flew through Coach Boone’s window? It was a toilet commode. Herman Boone still remembers the incident, saying it was something far more devastating than a brick. “I’ve never gotten over that incident that particular night,” he said. “I could never understand how anybody could feel so bad about another human being as to throw a toilet commode through a window.”
20. Was Gerry Bertier really paralyzed in a car accident before the championship game?
Yes and no. Gerry Bertier was unfortunately paralyzed in a car accident — both in the movie and in real life — but it actually happened after the Titans’ championship game. In “Remember the Titans,” the superstar linebacker was paralyzed before the championship, giving the team inspiration to play harder and win for their captain.
The accident happened on December 11, 1971. Bertier was coming home from high school’s football banquet, where he was honored with the MVP award. Just six blocks away from his house, Bertier lost control of his mother’s new Camaro, tearing across the road into a ditch. It was later determined a mechanical failure in the motor mount of the Camaro’s engine caused the accident.
21. Did Gerry Bertier tell a nurse Julius Campbell was his brother so he could visit in the hospital?
One of the most memorable scenes of “Remember the Titans” involved Julius Campbell visiting Gerry Bertier in the hospital after his car accident. When Gerry’s nurse initially tells Julius only family could visit at the moment, Gerry says “he [Julius] is my brother — don’t you see the family resemblance?”
Though it’s one of the sweetest scenes from the movie, it’s not entirely accurate. Julius wasn’t the only teammate who was stopped by the hospital nurses while trying to visit Bertier. In fact, several teammates visited the star linebacker, and all the teammates who visited Gerry told the nurses they were immediate family.
22. Did Gerry Bertier really die 10 years after the 1971 season?
Yes, this part of the “Remember the Titans” story is true. Heading home from a business trip in March of 1981, Bertier was struck by a drunk driver who crossed over the center line. Two hours later, the former football star was pronounced dead at the University of Virginia Hospital.
As it happened in the film, many of Gerry’s former teammates and coaches attended his funeral. Prior to his death, Bertier was working as a sales manager for Abbey Medical, which is a company that manufactures walking braces for people with disabilities. He was also working toward a business degree at Northern Virginia Community College.
23. Did Sheryl go to Coach Boone’s house to watch film and play with his daughter?
Sheryl’s relationship with Coach Boone gets off to a rocky start in the movie, after he accepts a job she had hoped her dad would receive. But over time, she eventually comes around and grows to become a huge fan of the coach. In fact, she even visits his house to watch game film and play with his daughter.
But in real life, things were different. Sheryl wasn’t a frequent guest at the coach’s house, and she never became close friends with his daughter. In fact, Coach Boone says Sheryl never visited his home. “I wish she had,” he said. “I wish she had spent any time with my children. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
24. Was Coach Boone a disciplinarian coach who was always in his players’ faces?
In “Remember the Titans,” Coach Boone is a fiery, intense competitor whose focus is on winning and nothing else. He comes across as a coach who almost only thinks about football, whether he’s on the field or back at home. Is he really so devoid of warmth or humor in real life?
Coach Boone willingly admits he had a disciplinarian style of coaching, but that’s not to say his character wasn’t exaggerated in “Remember the Titans.” As a coach, Boone was a perfectionist — and he had a temper as well. But the coach’s players say there’s a warm side to him that doesn’t come across in the film.
25. Did Coach Yoast really get passed over for the Virginia High School Hall of Fame?
Yes and no. It’s true Coach Yoast was not selected to the Virginia High School Hall of Fame. The coach was certainly more than deserving — he had a long track record of success as a coach, and his players loved him. However, there was one major reason why the coach was not selected.
The reason: the Virginia High School Hall of Fame did not exist when Coach Yoach was coaching! Had there been one, Yoast would have almost certainly been selected. The narrative surrounding Yoast’s Hall of Fame hopes goes to show the lengths “Remember the Titans” went to add more compelling story-lines into the movie.
26. Did Coach Boone take out a gun to confront the people who threw a brick through his window?
We’ve learned that it was a toilet commode, and not a brick, thrown through Coach Boone’s window. But in the movie, the coach responded by grabbing a gun to confront the vandals. Was this scene accurate, or was it yet another Hollywood attempt to add more drama to the movie?
As it turns out, this was another scene that was played up for the big screen. Coach Boone didn’t pick up a rifle, walk outside and confront the attackers — because Coach Boone did not actually own a gun. In the end, it’s just another attempt to make “The Blind Side” a more emotional movie through dramatic effect.
27. Did Coach Yoast really send Petey in to replace Alan at linebacker?
In one of the most inspiring scenes of “Remember the Titans,” Coach Yoast makes the controversial decision to replace Alan — played by Ryan Gosling — at linebacker, with a running back. Alan’s father yells at Coach Yoast for his decision, saying “don’t you take out my son.” The parent later chews out the coaches at Coach Boone’s office.
The way the benching transpired in the movie isn’t too far off from the truth, but it’s not completely accurate. Coach Yoast says the replacement was actually made between games, not during the middle of a game. The parent didn’t stand up in the stands like he did in the movie, but he did get into an argument in Coach Boone’s office.
28. Did Coach Boone only run six different plays on offense?
As the coaches boarded the bus to Gettysburg in “Remember the Titans,” Coach Boone handed them their playbooks. “I run six plays,” he says. “Split V.” To casual and die-hard football fans alike, six plays doesn’t seem like that many. Did the Titans really go undefeated running just six different plays on offense?
Rather than claiming he only runs six plays, Boone could have clarified those plays have many variations. His “triple option veer” playbook implies that there a lot of options to work out of. In fact, the Titans run a variety of plays throughout the movie. This is more of a case of semantics than dishonesty, but it’s still worth pointing out.
29. Despite his coaching style, was Coach Boone beloved by all of his players?
The success of the Titans — both on the field and on the big screen — leads many to believe that Coach Boone is highly regarded by everyone he’s spent time with. That’s largely true, but there is an exception. One individual has actually made it his mission to tell the world about his terrible experiences with the celebrated coach.
Greg Paspatis was a kicker on the Titans, six years after Boone led them to a championship. But contrary to others who have praised Boone as a man who brought a community together, Paspatis views Boone as an abuser who should not have coached at T.C. Williams High School. The accusations he’s made are shocking.
30. Was Coach Boone highly regarded for the rest of his coaching career?
Paspatis’ time with Boone was brief, because the coach was fired at the end of the season. Boone left his coaching job in disgrace, after what has been described as a player mutiny. Three assistant coaches made complaints against Boone, and there were allegations of player abuse against the head coach.
Though the controversy drew public attention, Disney made the decision to film “Remember the Titans,” which went on to become a blockbuster hit. To this day, Paspatis has collected and copied old newspaper clips and sent them to any journalists or publications who have taken the Hollywood script as scripture. Was Boone a hero or an abuser? That’s for you to decide.