The video clips used to show Dallas Carter playing the "Hays Rams" was actually a playoff game between the 02-03 Richardson Berkner Rams. One of the players captured from the Berkner highlights was Aqib Talib, who went on to become an All-American at Kansas and a first-round NFL Draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Texan experimental post-rock band Explosions in the Sky scored the movie. The producer used small pieces of older songs by Explosions in the Sky as placeholders, but eventually grew so fond of the pieces that he licensed them along with the original score produced by the band.
The real-life Brian Chavez did go to Harvard and got a law degree. But then he moved back to Odessa and started going to Permian football games with one of his old teammates, longing for his old glory days on the field. One day, angered by a historic Permian loss in a heated rivalry game, Chavez rounded up a posse, broke into a house party and started brawling with the attendants. His motivation: His girlfriend's ex-husband was at the party, and had been fighting with her over the phone while Chavez was trying to watch the game. Chavez was eventually forced to plead guilty to "burglary with intent to commit assault", and had to settle lawsuits with the victims. Although he avoided jail time, he did have his law license invalidated by the Texas State Bar. He has since turned his life around, but this incident had ultimately proved that the pull of Permian high school football was too much for even the smartest and most grounded player to escape.
The book displays several instances of racism and use of racial slurs to black players. When the makers of the movie asked Permian HighSchool to use all of their facilities for authenticity the school agreed only on the terms that all racism from the book not be included in the film to avoid a negative image on the school and town.
Garrett Hedlund (Don Billingsley) gained about an additional twenty pounds for this movie, on top of the thirty pounds that he had gained for Troy (2004). He was up to two hundred pounds when he'd usually been one hundred fifty-five.
Connie Britton and Brad Leland played similar characters on Friday Night Lights (2006). Connie played the wife in both the movie and television show. Brad played a character who was close with the coach and the team in both as well.
Live-action game sequences from the 2003 Permian High School football season are interspersed throughout the film. Director Peter Berg matched the uniforms and on-field jersey numbers for acted sequences so that the live clips would blend. Game sequences were shot on-location at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa and the Astrodome in Houston.
There are only two title cards at the beginning of the movie. The first is "The following story is based on the 1988 West Texas football season." The second is the movie title. The cast and crew are not shown until the end of the movie.
The state trooper who pulls up next to Chavez and Billingsley outside of the 7-11 is driving a special police package Ford Mustang that was made from the early 1980s to 1993, and Texas DPS did indeed use these cars at the time.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In reality, the 1988 Permian High School Panthers lost to Dallas-Carter in the state semi-finals, not the state finals. Carter did go on to win the state championship, but was later forced to forfeit its entire season when it was discovered that an academically ineligible player had been allowed to play after his grades were changed.