The words echo through Cameron Black’s phone every Sunday, painting a picture of what’s playing out on the field.
It’s a ritual in which many fans of the Kansas City Chiefs are familiar – tuning to the Chiefs Radio Network to hear play-by-play broadcaster Mitch Holthus bring the game to life.
But for Black, it goes beyond just an afternoon of football.
“Once a week, Mitch helps blind people see,” Black explained. “The way he describes it - his emotions, his level of excitement, his passion and his deep knowledge of the game…it’s just as good as seeing it with my own two eyes.”
Black has dealt with a condition known as congenital glaucoma since birth, rendering him almost completely blind. It’s something that made following sports an afterthought for much of his life – that is until he moved to Kansas City to take a job at Alphapointe, a leader in employing the blind, just under two years ago.
“When we were moving, I told my wife that I’d really like to get into football, just enough to have a conversation with people on the bus or at work,” Black said. “I knew this was Chiefs country and I needed to be able to talk about it.”
That led to long phone calls with his father, a devout Oklahoma Sooners fan, on the ins and outs of the game before it was time to put his newfound knowledge to the test.
“I sat down for one of the Chiefs’ first preseason games, but figured I’d only last 15 minutes or so because I wasn’t going to understand enough to listen to the whole thing,” Black recalled. “Thanks to Mitch, I listened to all three and a half hours and haven’t missed a game since.”
Black immersed himself in all things football, reading everything he could find online through a specialized program that vocalizes the text on the page. He began to chime in whenever he overheard fellow fans talking about the game coming up and even discovered how to maneuver the Chiefs Mobile App without the luxury of sight.
But it was Holthus’ narration that tied everything together.
“I can tell when something good is happening or about to happen because he just gets so animated…he gets so excited,” Black said. “It’s just the way he describes the plays. He says exactly what is happening, and if you understand football and how football works - which is where my dad came in - then Mitch is the second piece of that puzzle.
“He fits everything together with his flawless description of what’s happening.”
And for the first time in his brief tenure as a fan, Black had a chance to meet the man behind the microphone on Tuesday at a weekly rendition of the Chiefs Kingdom Show.
Black sat with Holthus and Chiefs’ punter Dustin Colquitt as the three talked football on air.
He was sitting there, side-by-side, with the man that brings a game he otherwise couldn’t enjoy to life.
“It meant the world to me,” Black said. “He was exactly what I thought he was going to be like. When he’s broadcasting, he’s very laid back with a great sense of humor and he connects with his fans, which kind of gave me the impression of how he’d be when I met him and that’s exactly how he was.”
For Holthus, it’s stories like Black’s that make the hours of preparation required for a single broadcast all the more worthwhile.
“We have over three million listeners in a three-hour time period, but there’s times I’ll narrow that down if I know somebody is listening, and now I’m thinking of Cameron every time I go on the air,” Holthus said. “I feel an obligation to think of it as more than a game. It’s really about the essence of life and life’s experiences and if I can enhance that positively, then it makes it beyond worth it.”
It’s certainly done that for Black, as the broadcasts are more than just a few hours on the radio each week.
It’s changed how he lives his life.
“For me, personally, I had never really felt like I was seriously a part of something,” Black said. “I had other hobbies before I got into football - I read novels a lot and a few other things like that - but I never felt a part of something as real as a whole city following and getting excited about something, and thanks to Mitch…I get to do that now.”