The Blind Quarterback: How I became a KC Chiefs fan

Kansas City Chiefs Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

New AA contributing writer Cameron Black writes about his blindness and his journey to becoming a passionate KC Chiefs fan.

Having grown up in Norman, Oklahoma for the first 16 years of my life, there are two facts that I remember as absolute certainties.

The first is that whether it was fast food or not, Braums had the best cheeseburgers, crinkle fries, and ice cream in town. The second held even less debate, which is that the fall is strictly reserved for Oklahoma Sooners football and nothing else. “BOOMER SOONER BABY!”

I spent the first 16 years of my life, living fifteen minutes away from one of the Meccas of college football: the campus of Oklahoma University—or just simply referred to as “OU”—and Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium.

Despite my close proximity to the school, the fact that life outside of football ceased to exist from September to January, and my father’s own obsession, I could not have possibly cared less about the Oklahoma Sooners—or indeed football as a whole. How is this possible you ask? As a young, totally blind boy, I considered something as visual as football to be permanently out of my reach.

I would willingly remain “blind” (pun intended) to the majesty of America’s sport for the first 28 years of my life, preferring the worlds that had been concocted in the imaginations of others over something with such a visual nature as sports. I spent much of my time in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy. I knew and cared nothing about the action that took place on the gridiron every Saturday and Sunday.

While my father was a permanent fixture in his armchair every Saturday in the fall from 8:00 a.m. to roughly 11:00 p.m., I remained in my room reading books, playing video games, or outside lost in my own imaginary worlds.

Things began to change at the age of 28 upon our move to a new locale: Kansas City, Missouri. The main reason for our move was so I could take a job while my young wife gave birth to and took care of our first child.

Coping with the pressure of the future of my small family resting entirely on my shoulders, not to mention the apprehension of moving to a new city and taking a new job, I decided to seek refuge in a new hobby. I was hoping to possibly find a way to adapt to a new city at the same time.

It was known even to me, someone who knew little to nothing about sports, that Kansas City is a football town. I figured that learning about football and the Chiefs would allow me to speak the lingo of the city, which would make my transition into a new life a little easier. To achieve this goal, I called upon the best person I knew to teach me about the sport.

For weeks, my father taught me absolutely everything he could about football. Through three-hour phone conversations and long emails, he would describe offensive and defensive formations, rushing formations and receiving routes, describing them in ways that even without having seen them, I could still understand and visualize what was going on on the field.

My father taught me all the workings of football (both on and off the field), but by far the best advice he gave me—and the advice that would change how I view sports forever—was this. “You shouldn’t watch football on TV. Football on TV is for people who can see it. What you need to do is find out who does the radio play-by-play for the Chiefs and listen to the game on the radio.”

On that fateful night, which happened to be a Chiefs preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, I settled down in my ratty old armchair with the Chiefs app downloaded onto my phone. I tuned into the radio feed and yelled over my shoulder to my wife who was unpacking in the next room, “I’m only going to listen to about 15 minutes of this. I can’t imagine me ever listening to a full game.” But I did listen to that entire game, and I haven’t missed one since—a streak that goes back to August, 2016.

During that 2016 season, I turned into a man obsessed. I absolutely devoured everything I could about football. Not only did I catch every Chiefs game, but I listened to the games of other teams as well. It was all an effort to learn more about football. Whenever the Voice of the Chiefs Mitch Holthus would describe a formation or a play I was uncertain of, I would immediately call, text, or email my father. He would provide me with an incredibly detailed description.

Of course, my newfound passion rapidly spread to college football, where much to the joy of my father, I became a huge fan of college football and OU Sooners football in particular.

Not only did I find comfort in this new interest, but I also received something else as well, something which I had never before experienced in my 28 years: a sense of community and belonging.

All of a sudden, for the very first time, I was part of something that was living and breathing—an always-changing entity—something that an entire city rallied behind and got incredibly excited about every Sunday in the fall.

It was not long at all before I would become completely addicted to football, and no team more so than the Chiefs for the NFL and OU for college.

Over the next six years, my fandom would blossom into a full-blown obsession and passion, like my father before me.  I would be incredibly blessed in my fandom, getting to do some amazing activities that some fans only dream of. I would appear in multiple newspapers for my fandom and my very unique way of experiencing the games.

I would also meet the Mitch Holthus and be a guest star on his weekly radio show several times. I would also go on to start a blog of my own where I talked about Chiefs football (and football in general) called “The Blind Quarterback.”

During the 2018 season, I would be selected as the “Blue Cross Blue Shield Chiefs Kingdom Champion.” I was blessed enough to throw out the ceremonial first pass, observe the game from the sidelines and the radio booth, and sat right next to Mitch Holthus as he called the game. I would also get to meet Patrick Mahomes all-too-briefly.

The years of my feverish Chiefs fandom would pass in a haze of red and gold. My finished basement which became my man cave, a room covered in signed footballs, jerseys, posters, and other memorabilia.

“The Blind Quarterback” blog would go dormant, for my writing talents were being utilized elsewhere, as I became a paid contributor for KC Kingdom, a website of FanSided, and I am now extremely honored to say that I am writing this piece for Arrowhead Addict, the very website that I religiously followed myself as an early Chiefs fan.

I cannot believe I have gone my entire life without experiencing football, but now that I have, I am just as avid a fan as someone who is sighted and has been following the sport their whole lives. So I say unto you, with all of my heart, Boomer Sooner baby, and GO CHIEFS!

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