http://espn.go.com/page2/s/closer/021101.html "North Dallas Forty," the movie version of an autobiographical novel written by former Dallas Cowboy receiver Pete Gent, came to the silver screen in 1979. The book had received much attention because it was excellent and because many thought the unflattering portrait of pro football, Dallas Cowboys-style, was fairly accurate. The film reached many more people than the book, and was, in many ways, a simplified version of the novel. But did it portray the NFL accurately? In the Sept. 16, 1979, Washington Post, offensive tackle George Starke wrote, "Most of what you see is close to what happens, or at least did happen when Pete Gent played." Others disagreed. What do you think? In Reel Life: The movie's title is "North Dallas Forty," and the featured team is the North Dallas Bulls. In Real Life: Why North Dallas? Gent, a rookie in 1964, explains in an e-mail interview: "I was shocked that in 1964 America, Dallas could have an NFL franchise and the black players could not live near the practice field in North Dallas -- which was one of the reasons I titled the book 'North Dallas Forty.' I kept asking why the white players put up with their black teammates being forced to live in segregated south Dallas, a long drive to the practice field. The situation was not changed until Mel Renfro filed a 'Fair Housing Suit' in 1969." In Reel Life: In the opening scene, Phil Elliott (Nick Nolte) is having trouble breathing after he wakes up; his left shoulder's in pain. He struggles to the bathtub, in obvious agony. In Real Life: Jim Boeke, one of Gent's Cowboy teammates (who also plays Stallings in the film), said this scene rings true. "I can't say it happens to every player every morning after every game," he told the Washington Post in 1979, "but the older you get, the more it happens to you." In Reel Life: As we see in the film, and as Elliott says near the end, he can't sleep for more than three hours at a stretch because he's in so much pain. In Real Life: Elliott is, obviously, a fictional version of Gent. "When I was younger, the pain reached that level during the season and it usually took a couple months for the pain and stiffness to recede," says Gent. "Usually by February, I was able to sleep a good eight hours. As I got older, the pain took longer and longer to recede after the season." In Reel Life: Mac Davis plays Seth Maxwell, the Cowboys QB and Elliott's close friend. In Real Life: Maxwell is a thinly disguised version of Gent's close friend, 1960s Cowboys QB Don Meredith. According to Gent, Meredith was offered the role of Seth Maxwell. "Don was at Elaine's one night talking with Bud Sharke, [Frank] Gifford, and several others, and Don said, 'I just don't want others to think that's me.' And Gifford said, 'Well, it is you.' " "Gent would become Meredith's primary confidant and amateur psychologist as the Cowboys quarterback's life would become more and more topsy-turvy as the years went on,' writes Peter Golenbock in the oral history, "Cowboys Have Always Been My Heroes." In Reel Life: Throughout the film, there's a battle of wits going on between Elliott and head coach B.A. Strothers (G.D. Spradlin). In Real Life: B.A. bears some resemblance to Tom Landry, who coached Gent on the Cowboys. "The only way I kept up with Landry, I read a lot of psychology -- abnormal psychology," says Gent in "Heroes." Though sometimes confused by Landry, Gent says he admired the man: "Over the course of a high school, college and pro career, an athlete is exposed to all sorts of coaches, (including) great ones who are geniuses breaking new ground in their game. Tom Landry was like that ... When you are young, you think you are going to meet men like this your whole life. You think the world is full of genius, and it isn't until you leave the game that you found out you may have met the greatest men you will ever meet." In Reel Life: Jo Bob Priddy (Bo Svenson) and O. W. Shaddock (John Matuszak) interrupt Elliott's relaxing bath, entering the bathroom with rifles blazing. Along with Maxwell, off-a-hunting they go. In Real Life: Former Cowboys Ralph Neely (a tackle) and Larry Cole (defensive end) told Washington Post reporter Jane Leavy that the trip was real. "Football players have only one day off a week and if they go hunting, they're sure as hell going to shoot something," Cole said in 1979. "We shot butterflies, field larks ..." And, Neely added, a mailbox. In Reel Life: Everyone's drinking during the hunting trip, and one series of shots comes dangerously close to Elliott and Maxwell. In Real Life: "In Texas, they all drank when they hunted," says Gent in "Heroes." "That story in 'North Dallas Forty' of being in a duck blind and getting sprayed by shot was a true story. (Don) Talbert and (Bob) Lilly, or somebody else, started shooting at us from across the lake!" In Reel Life: As he talks with Elliott in the car during the hunting trip, Maxwell refers to his member as "John Henry." saying, "John Henry, the man is just like you, he's never satisfied." In Real Life: The use of the term "John Henry" to refer to this critical section of the male anatomy dates to the late 19th century, according to "Partridge's Concise Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English." It's a variation of the older "John Thomas," which is probably of British origin.