-- by Matt Hurst
The movie ends with the belief that all is good. Jerry and Dorothy live happily ever after, Rod Tidwell got his contract and little Ray has a great arm … for a five-year old. But this is sports. Mom and Pop operations never work in sports. Small receivers aren’t stars. Nerdy kids don’t succeed on a field unless they have an instrument in their hands at halftime.
Jerry Maguire: He went through his highs and lows both professionally and personally in the film and seemed to finally figure everything out and how to make it work in perfect harmony by the time the credits rolled. His struggles made him a better man, a better husband and a good father to Ray. But his career suicide still allowed other agents at bigger corporations to undercut him. He didn’t mind because he had Rod Tidwell’s contract and friendship. Word got out and a few athletes began to come Jerry’s way. With the possibility of forming his own big-time agency, Jerry decided to re-read his manifesto and keeps his production small. Just him and Dorothy and a few NFL players. Nothing more than that. He is happy with his life, even if it isn’t as glamorous as it once was.
Dorothy Boyd: She works from home where she can raise her son and isn’t swallowed up in the whole backstabbing sports agent industry. Her heart is too big for that, anyway. She and Jerry made amends (the whole “You complete me” scene) and their love is too strong to break. She doesn’t travel to games with Jerry and only goes to a handful of conventions and events with him since his business is so pared down. Most of her time is spent raising Ray to be a good man and not fall into the pitfalls that once besieged Jerry.
Rod Tidwell: He got his contract – four years and $11 million – to stay in Arizona which is what he wanted all along. His relationship with Jerry calmed down his demeanor from spoiled athlete to sincere athlete and he started becoming a leader in the locker room. The problem was that Tidwell was always too small for receiver but “I go over the middle” and he had decent enough hands. Think Hines Ward here. A solid receiver who won’t overwhelm you but will have five or six catches for 80-90 yards a game. Tidwell signs a one-year deal after his contract is up and retires as a Cardinal. He acts as a buffer for Jerry, making sure to send over only the ones who “get it” to Maguire’s small agency to ensure the player is taken care of by the agent who cares.
Ray: When four-eyed Ray picks up a ball at the end of the movie and throws it over the fence and back onto the field, the idea is that this kid could turn into some kind of athlete. Look, not much is expected from a five-year-old, so of course everyone is amazed that he can even throw. But, really, what kind of athlete would Ray be? This kid has such a thirst for knowledge (“The human head weighs eight pounds!”) and desire to go to the zoo, that he ends up going to veterinary school because his mother encourages him to follow his dreams and is there for him at all times. Jerry had hoped Ray could take over for him, but loves this dorky kid so much, he is just proud of whatever he does. Even if he is a bastard.
Frank Cushman: No. 1 overall draft picks are never a lock in the NFL (see: Russell, JaMarcus and Mandarich, Tony) and Cushman had a lot of growing up to do. He was never told “No” by anyone and made a few missteps in the press and with his teammates. After he is traded, this country boy realizes he’s on his last leg in the league when he is in a training camp competition for the starting quarterback job. His impressive physical skills win out, but he never lives up to his promise and potential. He bounces around to a few teams in his final years but never wins a Super Bowl and ends up with only three more touchdown passes than interceptions.
Bob Sugar: There are far too many stories about sleazyagents and what they do to make a buck to think it was just a few rogue individuals. Bob Sugar was on his way to opening a mega-agency in the movie, doing whatever was needed to work his way up the ladder. From stealing Cushman, to helping sabotage Jerry with all the phone calls, to trying to give a player a hug at the end of the movie, Sugar had no qualms about faking his way to more money and a better agent’s status. He ended up opening his own huge agency, but drinking, drugs, sex parties and the like eventually dragged him down. A DUI finally forced Sugar to declare bankruptcy and close his super-agency. He is trying to get back on his feet but his sordid reputation needs a lot of rebuilding.
Laurel: You want to think that Jerry’s moment with Dorothy in the living room during the anti-male discussion changed the minds of all the women there … even Dorothy’s older sister. But, no. One “You had me at hello” moment is not going to affect Laurel or change her mind, even if everything has turned out well between Jerry and Dorothy. Laurel has turned away many potential suitors because of her strong stance on feminism and still regularly holds and attends living room meetings.
Tidwell family: Spending more than Rod can bring in, they end up living a modest life, not that of someone who made over $15 million in the course of a career. They never really loved Rod (except his wife) they loved the allure of having a famous family member. No one was even at his home games, rather watching Monday Night Football at their own house. Rod eventually becomes a television analyst because he can’t stand the majority of his family and wants to stay away from them as much as possible.
Avery Bishop: After she decks Jerry, her reputation soars. But she has no heart, no soul. She will sleep with anyone to get to the top, and she does. She becomes a CEO of a major company but is never happy. That’s fine with her, because she’s in good shape, has a ton of money and lives a very superficial life. She goes through two marriages but neither work out. She dies alone.