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Still Punching

Sept. 12, 2011
Sept. 12, 2011

Table of Contents
Sept. 12, 2011

LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
TEN YEARS
  • The games we watched played a substantial role in fostering a return to normalcy after 9/11. In the decade since the attack, with two wars still raging, sports still provide comfort—but they have also inspired, united and reminded

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
BASEBALL
  • The Braves' three-headed relief monster—two parts lefty, one part Rookie of the Year front-runner, 100% filthy—has made life historically brutish and short for hitters. Now all the trio needs is a worthy nickname

TRACK AND FIELD
PRO BASKETBALL
  • No one loves the game more than the Mercury guard, a leading contender for WNBA MVP, but even she didn't understand what hoops meant to her until a string of harrowing events threatened to derail her career

TCU Coach GARY PATTERSON
  • Twenty-five years ago TCU coach Gary Patterson was a tumbleweed assistant clinging to a Division II job. No one expected he would rise to the top of his profession—not even the author, who lived with him then

POINT AFTER
Departments

Still Punching

Nick Nolte rubs life into the old fight trainer's role in The Warrior

This is an article from the Sept. 12, 2011 issue

The broken-down old coach called upon in the winter of his life to rise to the occasion is a venerable device in sports films. You know him: lonely, sometimes gruff, sometimes repentant, more often than not drunk. Epitomized by Burgess Meredith's Mickey in Rocky, and made hilarious by Rip Torn's Patches O'Houlihan in Dodgeball, the archetype gets its latest embodiment in the gravelly voiced form of Nick Nolte in Warrior, which opens Friday.

Nolte plays Paddy Conlon, a recovering alcoholic who's enlisted by estranged son Tommy (Tom Hardy) to help him train for an MMA tournament to determine the world's top fighter. Paddy's other son, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), ends up a contender out of financial necessity, and Paddy must face his failures as a parent. Nolte (above, right) evokes equal parts sympathy and pity while clearly drawing upon his own struggles with addiction. The film is directed by Gavin O'Connor, who also did Miracle, and like that hockey-themed sports weeper, Warrior tugs on all the right heartstrings. But also like Miracle, it has its clichés, and its PG-13 rating keeps things too clean (not a drop of blood hits the octagon floor). But by the end, even the gruffest of Morris Buttermakers may be disarmed.

PHOTOCHUCK ZLOTNICK/©LIONSGATE/EVERETT COLLECTION (NOLTE)