The Coach of Friday Night Lights diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

Gary Gaines Friday Night LightsLegendary Permian High School football coach Gary Gaines photographed on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Lubbock, Texas. Photo Courtesy of Mark Rogers - AJ Media - Avalanche Journal.

Gary Gaines, the head coach at the center of Permian Panthers (Odessa, TX) and MOJO in Buzz Bissinger’s book Friday Night Lights about the 1988 season in west Texas, is hoping that his diagnosis of early on-set Alzheimer’s disease will help raise money for an Amarillo charity football game.

Late last week, the 68-year old Gaines, who was played by Billy Bob Thornton in the film that was based on the book, revealed his diagnosis, saying he is teaming-up with Blondes vs. Brunettes, a charity flag football game that will raise funds and awareness to help fight Alzheimer’s. Gaines will be an honorary coach for the game that will be played June 10 at Falcon Stadium in Bushland, just west of Amarillo.

Gaines had two stints at Permian — 1986 through 1989 and 2009 through 2012.  His overall record was 69-28-1 with a Class 5A state championship in 1989.

 

 

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Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.