The Bleachers: Top Ten Quotes

“Every Spartan remembered two numbers—the one on his jersey, and the number of laps he finished in the Spartan Marathon” (Tuesday, p. 38).Coach Rake employs torturous training methods for his Spartan football team. Every August the boys have to run the “Marathon” to see how many laps they can run around the field before they fall down from exhaustion.

 “When Rake dies, the lights go out” (Tuesday, p. 45).Eddie Rake’s former players keep a death vigil for him on the bleachers of the football field, telling stories about the games. The field lights are kept on all night, but when the coach dies, they are turned off. This also refers metaphorically to the influence Rake has on the town of Messina.

 “You got a lot of friends around here. Ain’t right to run away” (Tuesday, p. 57).Sheriff Mal Brown, a former player under Rake, questions Neely Crenshaw, another former player, about why he has deliberately stayed away from his hometown of Messina for fifteen years.

“According to the predawn gossip, Rake was still clinging to life. And the town was still clinging to him” (Wednesday, p. 66).Though a figure of controversy, Coach Rake put the town of Messina on the map, and for forty-four years his winning football team and their games are the only focus of the townspeople. His passing is the passing of an era.

“He loved the sound of fifty players stomping up and down the bleachers” (Wednesday, p. 78).Running up and down the bleachers is the second most grueling exercise in Spartan training. It is during this exercise that a young player, Scotty Reardon, dies of heatstroke.

 “Rake was a great actor” (Wednesday, p. 81).Rake is a charismatic figure whom no one can fully understand. He uses dramatic moods to control his players and the town.

“Another year, another team, another season” (Wednesday, p. 108)Neely, a former star quarterback, comes back fifteen years later to see the current team practicing. He knows nothing has changed because Rake’s legacy continues even with him gone. Neely’s own moment of glory was brief, but the tradition of Spartan football goes on.

“Crenshaw is calling his own plays now, nothing from the sideline because there are no coaches over there” (Wednesday, p. 116).The players listen to the radio broadcast of the famous 1987 championship game, a mystery that remains unsolved until Rake dies. Why did the coaches disappear at the most crucial moment?”

“When you’re famous at eighteen, you spend the rest of your life fading away” (Thursday, p. 188).Neely Crenshaw reflects that the highlight of his life as a football hero has passed, though he is still a young man. His early fame was intense but short, and now he is mediocre, with a disabled knee.

“I felt the irresistible call to come home. And to come back to this field where we once owned the world” (Friday, p. 231).Neely Crenshaw, who has not been able to forgive Rake all these years, finally makes his peace with the past as he gives one of the eulogies for his beloved coach.