Coach Taylor’s Best Advice from Friday Night Lights

Critics were quick to note that Friday Night Lights was about a whole lot more than just high school football. The painfully realistic hit drama was also about small town politics, marriage, parenthood, race, friendship, and much more. But the thread that held the show together across five seasons was Coach Eric Taylor and his endless fount of genuinely inspiring wisdom. Taylor’s advice to his players, wife, daughter, and friends was always the perfect blend of tough love and compassion. Here’s a look at the best Eric Taylor quotes from all five seasons of FNL.

Winning Isn’t Everything

“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

Coach Taylor’s famous mantra was more than just an empty pep talk catchphrase. He led his players onto the field with a battle cry that let them know that if they have a clear conscience and good intentions, they will always be winners in life, even if the scoreboard says otherwise.

Boys Only Think About Food and Sex

“If you’re wondering if a boy is thinking about you, he’s not. He’s thinking about sex or he’s hungry. Those are the only two options.”

Coach Taylor rarely minced words with his daughter, Julie, especially where boys were concerned. His many years in locker rooms with rowdy teenage boys taught him that, by and large, teenage boys are just barelymore than single-minded in their pursuits.

Character = Not Giving Up

“Listen to me, I said you need to strive to be better. I didn’t say you needed to be better than everyone else. But you gotta try. That’s what character is. It’s in the trying.”

East Dillon’s QB Vince was going through a very tough time when Coach doled out this bit of much-needed wisdom. Vince’s  dad just got out of prison, and Vince’s mom wanted Vince to forgive him and “be better.” The trouble? Vince says: “He never taught me how to be better. He’s not around.” Coach is simply asking Vince to try.

Don’t Play Dirty
“Listen to me. This is exactly what I meant about playing with revenge. That team out there is not a better team. They are not a better team. You take away the mental mistakes, and we are back in this thing. Otherwise, they’re gonna keep playing us for a bunch of fools. Stay away from dumb, gentlemen.”

The “dumb” here is a rival team with a nasty racist streak. They’ve been playing dirty and pushing Taylor’s team to sink to their level. Coach advises his boys to get the “dumb” out of their minds and to simply focus on the game.
Marriage Is All About Compromise

“Marriage requires maturity. Marriage requires two people that will listen, really listen to each other. Marriage most of all requires compromise.”

Eric and Tami Taylor are one of the ’s all-time greatest couples, and the secret to their success is outlined in this awesome piece of wisdom from Coach T. Listening to these two listen to each other over five seasons is one of the great joys of FNL.

Seize the Day

“You get one chance in life, fellas. You can either take advantage of it, or you can piss it away. You do the latter, and you’re gonna regret it the rest of your lives.”

Coach Taylor’s YOLO moment, this gem reminded his players to make the most of their time on the field, because for most of them, the glory days of football end after senior year.

To Thine Own Self Be True

“You listen to people that love you and you listen to people that you trust. Most of all, you listen to yourself.”

This advice to Smash Williams echoes Hamlet‘s Polonius and his famous admonishment, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” Taylor is telling Williams to not only listen to his wise (and always awesome) mama, but also to listen to his heart and to do what he knows is right.

Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy

“In my gut, I think there’s only one thing standing between us and the playoffs. And it’s not our opponents. It’s ourselves.”

Football is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Coach needs his team to realize that unless they can overcome their own mental obstacles, they’ll never be able to face the rivals that stand in the way of the Dillon Panthers and their playoff hopes.

Football Isn’t Everything

“There are more important things than football.”

The residents of the fictional town of Dillon, TX, love football more than anything in the world, but Coach Taylor knows that there’s a great big world outside of their little football bubble waiting for most of his players (not everyone is getting a big football scholarship). They had better be ready.

If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Well

“If you give a hundred percent of yourself tonight, people are gonna look at you differently. People are gonna think of you differently. And I promise you, you’re gonna look and think differently about yourselves.”

Dillon football fans can be brutal in their criticisms of Coach Taylor and his players, but Taylor knows that the town can tell when his team is genuinely giving it 100%. And he also knows that his players will feel better and play better when they know they’ve given it their all.

Have Some Respect

“Y’all want to fight, go ahead and fight. But not on my field and not in my colors! You got me? Is that understood? … You don’t fight in my house!”

A football field is sacred ground in Dillon, and Coach won’t let anyone besmirch it. Simply put: There’s no fighting in football. What is this, hockey?

Always Be Honest with Your Spouse

“Everything I know about women you can stick in this damn coffee cup here. But I do know you have to have trust and honesty. Without trust and honesty, it is not gonna work.”

Watching Eric and Tami navigate through the rockiest parts of their marriage is a master class in storytelling as well as in maintaining a healthy relationship. The trust they had in each other got them through trials such as Eric leaving town for a few months to coach college football.

Fight for the People Who Believe in You

“There are a few out there who still do believe in you. A few who will never give up on you. You go back out on the field, those are the people I want, in your minds. Those are the people I want, in your hearts.”

Here Taylor is telling his team to remember the special people out there in the stands that still have hope for them. It’s those diehard fans, friends, and family members that the team needs to remember when they’re fighting for a big win.

Never Cheat on Your Spouse

“You want some advice? … Number one, you should tell this woman, whoever the hell it is and I don’t want to know, that under no certain terms, that it’s over. Number two, you need to go home and take care of your wife and think about those kids of yours. That’s all I got to say.”

Coach Taylor also has advice for the likes of Buddy Garrity, a local car dealer and booster club president (for a time) who loves to stick his nose in Dillon Panther business. Taylor’s advice is spot-on here, putting the philandering Garrity in his place and reminding him what is most important.

Don’t Be Racist

“What I’m telling you is, it’s not too damn smart to be making generalizations about people’s abilities based on their color, think about that. That’s what I’m saying.”

Assistant Coach Mac McGill needed to hear this after his controversial statements regarding the black players on the Dillon Panthers. Like most of Taylor’s advice, it’s simply put, to the point, and incredibly hard to argue with without looking like a jerk.

Make Adversity an Asset
“This is about more than just football, gentlemen. It’s about adversity and how we stand up to it. No one said they were gonna hand us the playoffs. What we’re gonna do is we’re gonna work, we’re gonna adjust, and we’re gonna work some more. We’re gonna take adversity and turn it into an asset and we’re gonna ride that asset all the way to the damn playoffs.”

Everyone loves an underdog story, and there are no better underdog stories on TV than the ones on FNL. None of their state championship titles came easily – Taylor’s boys always had to turn adversity into an asset in order to win (which also made for pretty dramatic TV).
Your Kids Are the Most Important Thing in Your Life

“Money – comes and goes. These kids of ours – that’s a one time deal.”

Football, fame, wealth – Coach Taylor knows these things are fleeting. His family will be a major part of his life long after his football career is over.

Don’t Be a Quitter

“You quit this team you’re gonna hate yourself. You wanna be pissed? Fine, you go ahead, you be pissed. I don’t give a damn. But you are not quitting this team.”

Taylor just wants his boys to follow through with their commitments, a lesson that will help them greatly in their post-football lives. Taylor’s track record of getting troubled boys back on track is basically spotless over five seasons, so when he tells you to stick it out, you stick it out. 

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