On Friday Night Lights

Why We Love . . . Vince Howard

By Jen Chaney

Vince Howard became Coach Eric Taylor’s most daunting challenge. A kid with a criminal record, a drug-addicted mother, a dad in jail, and a tendency to hang with some super-shady dudes, young Vince had little genuine interest in playing football, much less becoming leader of his high school team.

But become its leader, and its state championship—winning quarterback, is exactly what Vince Howard did. A wiry teen with a perpetually determined look on his face and a world of problems on his shoulders, Vince, while occasionally cocky, didn’t display the kind of joyful arrogance we saw in Smash Williams. He wasn’t as quotable as the pithy Tim Riggins. And while, like Matt Saracen, he had responsibilities at home that forced him to become a man before he finished being a boy, Vince wasn’t the kind of character who made us yearn to give him a hug.

Vince was all toughness and hard lessons, promising athlete and beyond-loyal son, the kid who squeaked out of going to juvie and soared like a well-thrown football in flight once he became an East Dillon Panther. We loved him because he overcame his surroundings.

And we also loved him because:

  • When Coach Taylor gave Vince’s strung-out mom $20 and looked every inch the patronizing, postracism-era white male while doing it, Vince returned the cash. From minute one, the kid had his pride.
  • While complaining about Coach Taylor’s aggressive coaching, Vince once referred to him as a “white boy.” As in, “That white boy sucks.” Coach Taylor is many things,  …

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