Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Blind Brother Helps Her See What's Important Sharon Randall

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Blind Brother Helps Her See What's Important Sharon Randall

Article excerpt

On the opening day of Clemson's football season, I woke early, thinking about my brother and pondering one of life's more baffling questions:

What's the big deal with some people and college football?

I mean, seriously. Have you ever noticed how giddy some fans get when it's time for another season?

If you didn't know better, you might think they'd just found a cure for every disease under the sun and gotten a deal for free cable TV. I'm just saying.

Take my brother. If there exists on this planet a truer fan of Clemson football, I for one don't want to meet him. Or her.

Joe loves to pull for the Tigers the way some people love to eat and drink and breathe. He does all those other things, too, but pulling for Clemson comes first.

Totally blind since birth, he has never seen a football, let alone, watched a game. But as with other hurdles in his life, he doesn't let that stop him.

He listens faithfully to every game on the radio, sitting on his porch on the edge of his seat, hanging on every word of every description of every play.

He feels the shape of a football someone gave him years ago, running his fingers along the seams as if trying to imagine how it feels to intercept a pass.

He jumps up and dances to the Tiger Rag (despite braces that keep his knees from buckling) when Clemson scores, and hangs his head in agony if they lose.

But win or lose, in good years and bad, he's always ready, always looking forward to the next game, the next season.

Especially on opening day.

I phoned him just before the game. He didn't answer. Never does. Can't move fast enough to get the phone before it goes to voicemail. So I left a message.

"Hey, Cheever." (That's short for mischievous, which is what he is.) "Good luck today. Don't forget who you're pulling for."

He never forgets who he's pulling for. Sometimes I say stuff just to mess with him. …

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