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The Blind Leading The Blind
Steve Rushin
December 06, 1999
What with the mugging, maiming and mouthing off, NFL '99 has been tough to watch
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December 06, 1999

The Blind Leading The Blind

What with the mugging, maiming and mouthing off, NFL '99 has been tough to watch

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"The Federal Communications Commission has proposed that broadcasters be required to adopt technology allowing the blind to follow the action on television by listening to a narrator describe it...on a secondary audio channel."
—THE NEW YORK TIMES

No vision? No problem! No sight? No sweat! Now, for the first time, you can "watch" the NFL, with audio closed-captioning for the visually impaired! See B.S.! Next, on CBS!

You are "looking" live at a football warrior. Ever been to a petting zoo and felt the armor of an armadillo? The man on your screen has a similar carapace encasing his cranium—a protective, rain-repellent shell constructed of shiny space-age polymers. Helmet? Hell no! You are looking at Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson!

His placekicker is teeing up the controversial K ball. Ever held a wiener dog? The long and narrow K ball resembles a dachshund. Only you can't kick it as far. Think of every shoddy product ever preceded by a K and roll them into one: K-Tel records, Army K rations, the NFL K ball. Get the picture? It's K-rrrap!

Touchdown, Jets! Keyshawn Johnson celebrates by pretending to slash his own throat. Simulated self-decapitation will hereafter cost him $2,500. Other players pretending to give themselves a Colombian Necktie include Dolphins defensive back Sam Madison. His troubled teammate, Dimitrius Underwood, slashed his own throat for real in September. So how tasteless is this Madison? Try the Chinese chicken salad served on U.S. Airways!

Relax! The shot you just heard was the halftime gun. Really! When last we looked, Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth—charged last week in the drive-by shooting of his pregnant girlfriend—was still being held on $3 million bond. (Say what? There is no halftime gun? They use a whistle? Be afraid. Be very afraid!)

Let's check highlights from around the league! Wait, there are none! Every skill player in the NFL is sidelined with a concussion. Here you see unsuspecting Packers receiver Antonio Freeman—who is nowhere near a football—brutally coldcocked by Lions free safety Mark Carrier. Ever ski into a tree at 100 miles an hour? It's like that, only the tree is also skiing at you!

In four short hours, the game is over. But the action is just beginning! After the euphoria of, say, Jacksonville's 6-3 victory over Baltimore—ever listen to paint dry, hear grass grow?—players link hands, bow heads and kneel at midfield. Prayer circle? Guess again! They're huddled in self-defense against missile-throwing fans! Ever been caught in softball-sized hail? Had frozen airplane waste fall on you from 12,000 feet? Been cussed, then concussed, while leaving the office? That's Mile High Stadium after spectators have hurled battery-laden snowballs on Monday Night Football. "See" what you've been missing?

At least the Broncos won't three-peat as champions. Good news! Because their uniforms resemble—how to put this?—double-knit vomit. Instead, the Super Bowl is looking a lot like Rams vs. Jaguars! Though the Titans or Colts may yet prevail! Whatever happens, you'll "see" all the action from St. Louis and Jacksonville, from Nashville and Indianapolis, leaving only one mystery unrevealed, one question to be answered: Haven't you suffered enough?

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