This review contains spoilers.
Without a rather moving and effective scene at the 1:03 mark of the film, this might have been a complete loss.
There were so many things that didn't make sense, and in the end the moral of the story, frankly, really ticked me off. "Just go and play football, son, use the gifts that God has given you, or I will throw you behind bars."
We're given hints that Ricky, played in sporadic bursts of hokey and endearing by Ryan Kwatsen, might be gay. At a young age he was in his mother's hair salon with his mother and her employees, and his older brother - a cliché of clichés of ignorance - stormed in and told him to stop what he was doing. The problem was, Ricky was just sitting in a chair surrounded by women. We don't know what he was doing. But his brother called him a sissy, and we assume this scarred him.
Yet when Ricky gets to New York he finds himself taken by the first woman he bumps into - literally. And she is no prize (all apologies to the actress). What he sees in her was invisible to me. She was crass and unattractive, and it's difficult to believe that Ricky, a very handsome and charming young man, would fall for her. I think the people casting the film made a mistake. The two, together, were as mismatched as any couple I've seen on the screen, and more mismatched than almost any couple I've seen in real life.
We learn, later, about the possibility of his homosexuality, so his reaction when he first meets Vera puzzles us more. He's instantly delighted, and follows her - stalks her, really - for many, many, many blocks. It's a bit creepy.
I said there were things that didn't make sense. The film twisted them around before tying them together. I'm just going to tie them together. Here's what happened.
Ricky wanted to quit football. We don't really know why, though he did say that he wanted to "work with Mama". Ostensibly in her hair salon. Which ostensibly signals to us that he's gay. What else would that tell us? Sure, there are straight male hair dressers. A former partner was a gay hair dresser, and through him I met a few straight male hair dressers. That's not the point. The point is that the stereotype exists, so to introduce Ricky wanting to be a hair dresser (surely he didn't want to sweep floors or shampoo hair), especially when juxtaposed against him being one of the best high school quarterbacks to ever come out of Texas, can really mean only one thing.
So, Ricky wants to quit football and work with Mama. His brother doesn't like this. They get into a fight in front of their home and Ricky wins. But his brother drops dead. His brother died of a heart attack. Not because of anything Ricky did, he died, as their mother tells us, because his heart was broken by football. Huh?
Ricky flees to New York. Why? To connect with a priest who used to play football for his high school, and who used to be great. Why does he do this? I have no idea. They didn't have any conversations worthy of mention. In fact, the priest himself had very few conversations worthy of mention. We do discover that he's fathered an illegitimate child - wait. What? A plot twist? No. Plot twists come out of the organic nature of the story. This came out of nowhere.
Ricky messes around with the girl he's met, though we don't know how far it's gone. Then he goes back home. Why? I don't know. He had a crying fit at the 1:03 mark, and he hugged the priest. Apparently that was cathartic. He went back home and played football. He told his mama that he'd met a girl, and his mama cried.
What? Are we now to assume that the message of this film is that proper men, and especially proper men who play football can't be gay?
And that about sums it up.