Jerry Maguire (1996) What's Your Word?


Jerry Maguire might be one of the most beloved movies that combines melodramatic monologues and football. Directed by Cameron Crowe, the film is about sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) who sends a company-wide mission statement (not a memo) encouraging everyone to sign fewer clients, give more personal attention to them, and make less money. He is promptly fired by his arrogant protege.

Trying to carry over as many of his clients to a solo-practice, Maguire is caught on the phone with Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr) - a disgruntled boisterous quarterback who forces a promise from Maguire to show him the money shouting it over and over again. Cue one of the most memorable scenes in film history; the "Show Me The Money" sequence. (Surely, you've seen it?)

The only other employee at SMI that joins Maguire in his new practice is Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger). A blond haired idealistic single mother who is completely inspired by his refreshing philosophy. Only two football players out of dozens stay with Jerry; the number one draft pick (who Maguire loses a night before the official draft), and Tidwell. It's the beginning of a bumpy yet beautiful friendship.


When Maguire is first introduced, he is on the move to fame, success, and money. He's not particularly arrogant or chauvanisitc so it may not come across at first, but in the daily humdrums of his business, seeing clients suffer debilitating concussions it's not anything new. Then experiencing an evening of a regrown conscious he remembers why he became a sports agent: personal relationships.

It just so happens the only client he signs over is a passionate family who has forgotten how playing football wasn't at one time all about the money.

Together, Maguire and Tidwell are back to square one. The coaches Maguire used to rake over the coals for  top salaries and draft picks hang him out to the dry. Tidwell doesn't help score points to contract signings when he's considered a misfit in the locker room and on the field. Their friendship is a rough patch both professionally and personally.

Following a brutal break-up with his wickedly and brutally honest fiance (Kelly Preston), Maguire finds himself falling in love with Boyd and her young son. He practically goes to live with them, and through Boyd's strong feelings towards Maguire, they later briefly get married. Maguire comes to be haunted by a motto of his previous relationships; good at friendship, horrible at intimacy.

But, Maguire forges connections. He might not be able to sign Tidwell to the big commercial promos or higher salaries, but he's in the press box at every game. Maguire even passionately pleas to Tidwell in the locker room following one game to "help me, help you". Tidwell vows never to suck up to the big coaches, but Maguire keeps trying to be the best agent he can be and Tidwell keeps playing games on what's left of his unimpressive and unfullfilling contract.

Tidwell has it all when it comes to his family. A loving passionate wife Marcee (Regina King), a son Tyson, a baby girl on the way, and a spoiled brother Teepee who constantly rags on him. He is the poster boy for family and love. What he doesn't have is the security of a salary for today. Even in his initial conversation with Maguire to stay signed with him, he makes the famous plea for Maguire to show him the money(!!!). He hunts for the big bucks but has forgotten his love of the game before the dollar signs. Tidwell wants the kwan.

That's his one word: Kwan. It means means love, respect, community, and the dollars too. The entire package, the kwan.


Maguire grows more of the image of success he wanted to be. Suffering on the road in unison to reach every Monday Night Football to be there when he suffers his worst injury, to make a meaning of life without the big money and with family, Maguire becomes Tidwell's ambassador of kwan.

Eventually, Tidwell gets the dollars too with an emotional major signing bonus to his hometown team, and other football players are attracted to Maguire's different style of business of personal attention.

The world is cynical and filled with tough competitors, but what I love about the sentimentality of Jerry Maguire is that you can follow your own image or inspiration for success. Without the cash, Maguire was a stooge in the game of chasing big bucks. By experiencing that one night of eating a slice of bad pizza and growing a conscious, Maguire comes to love his family, love the game, love his job, love his personal relationships. Tidwell and Maguire have the success of a supportive family and a good career without having to throw their morals aside. We don't know what one word Maguire would choose to live by but to me "heart" comes to mind.

Which lead me to think about my one life word:

I had to dig through a lot of online dictionaries to find my one word and was even close to creating my own like Tidwell. Then, quaintrelle popped up in front of my eyes and I couldn't help but love the way it seemed to fit what I strive for.

Ever since I was a little girl I admired people who were explorers in life. By adventurous, I'm not singling out the physical image and risks of people bungee-jumping or legendary aviators; i.e. Amelia Earhart.

My image of quaintrelles are women who go after everything with their full hearts and aren't afraid to stand out. Like writing books even though they didn't think it would amount to anything phenomenal (J.K. Rowling), cooking because they had a passion for French cuisine (Julia Child), and even the six tables of comic book kids and video game players at my lunchroom who are just having fun doing what they love. It's not about the money but basking in the glow of cultivating it all.

What's your word? If you don't have one right now, it's an interesting thing to think about. Try to ruminate all the personal qualities you admire or how you most like to spend your time; kindness, balance, peace, fulfillment, content, happiness. Look through the dictionary, rummage through other languages, discover a definition that may lead you to experience the type of success you'd like to attain. Then take your word, go all the way, and let people follow.

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