Gridiron Gang was a 2006 sports drama movie, based on a documentary of the same name, which told a fictionalized account of the creation, and first season, of the Kilpatrick Mustangs; a football team made up of inmates from the Camp Kilpatrick juvenile detention camp in California.

In the movie, Dwayne Johnson plays a version of one of the team’s founders and coaches, Sean Porter, who attempts to motivate the kids in his care to use the skills found in football to change their lives for the better so they don’t fall back into gang culture when they’re released. Here are his eight most inspirational quotes.

“Right now, you’re losers. Mustangs are winners.”

“On the Gridiron, we do it my way. Not your way, my way. Your way got you here and you’re here ‘cus you lost. Right now, you’re losers. Mustangs are winners.”

Sean Porter’s program for the Mustangs is no joke, and he doesn’t go easy on the kids. He tells it like it is, like any good coach would do, and rules with an iron hand. But it’s all to get the kids to look at the choices that lead them to their current situation so that they can take the first steps into bettering themselves and their prospects going forwards.

“Then let’s try the impossible because the possible just ain’t working.”

The main motivation behind Sean Porter’s creation of the Kilpatrick Mustangs football team is to try and curb the reincarceration rate of the overwhelming amount of the kids who find themselves at the juvenile detention camp.

Spurred on by the gang-related tragic end of a recently released inmate that he was close to, Sean proposes the idea of the football team to create a new social structure for the kids when they’re released. It’s met with skepticism by his colleagues, who consider his goals admirable but impossible. But, as Sean says, some outside-the-box thinking is clearly required.

“Boys, it’s a whole new world out there when you earn things.”

So much of the tough work that Sean Porter puts the team through is to show them that the things that are truly worth having in life don’t come easily and that they have to be earned through hard work and determination. A lot of the kids give up, several times, and Sean faces his own set of challenges.

But their collective belief in one another pulls them through and shows all of them a new way of living and dealing with gang violence targeted at young people.

“You don’t have to be an athlete to be a Mustang… You’ve just gotta have heart.”

The Mustangs aren’t so much about finding physical power so much as they are about finding a psychological, emotional, power. Sean Porter doesn’t want the kids to win games so much as he wants to foster a winning attitude, one that can be applied to all situations and walks of life.

When he tells the kids that their heart matters more than their athleticism, he genuinely means it and the sentiment helps the kids to understand their worth beyond trying to be the toughest.

“…you’re somebody and you are worthy of something…”

“Now is the time to prove to yourselves, and prove to everyone out there, that, even though you’re locked up, you’re somebody and you are worthy of something and you’re able to do something special that no one else in the world can do.”

As you can imagine, Dwayne Johnson comes off as the perfect casting choice for Sean Porter purely on his strength for giving rousing speeches. It’s not the only side to Sean that Johnson displays, by any means, but nobody can rile people up for a fight quite like The Rock himself.

“You got nobody but yourself but, god damn it, that’s all you need. Believe in yourself…”

“You got no homeboys, you got no help, you damn sure ain’t got no gun and you can’t run away. You got nobody but yourself but, god damn it, that’s all you need. Believe in yourself…”

A big part of what Sean Porter attempts to teach the kids is that people from different backgrounds can come together to achieve something more worthwhile than any gang could accomplish but it’s mostly about teaching them to respect themselves as individuals. 

“If we wanna win, we gotta let ‘em go. Forgive ‘em and move on.”

Of all the relationships that Sean Porter has with the kids in the movie, the most significant is with Willie Weathers. When it looks as if Willie is on the verge of giving up for good, the two begin to have a conversation about their fathers and how their denigrating words when they were young shaped their self-esteem, or lack thereof. 

Sean admits to Willie to he, himself, had not forgiven his own father for his lack of belief in him until the very moment that he asked Willie to do the same. They both accept that the only way to be stronger and happier in the future is to let go of the hate in their past.

“You’re gonna go out there, you’re gonna put your helmets on, buckle your chin straps and hand out 38 (butt) whoopings.”

Facing a team that destroyed them by 38 points in their last match, the Mustangs are understandably fearful of going up against them again. The team is from a wealthy school that puts a lot of time into its football team and the contrast to the lives of the Mustang players really brings out the feelings of inadequacy in the kids.

Sean recognizes these feelings as one of the main hurdles to overcome, so he never lets the team succumb to those feelings and pumps them up in a typically Rock-like fashion. When Dwayne Johnson tells you to kick some butt, you do it.