Joe Buck, top FOX NFL broadcaster and the proud host of THREE episodes of an HBO talk show, dropped an interesting nugget earlier this week when he revealed the network was planning on digitally inserting virtual fans into the stands of NFL stadiums if the COVID-19 pandemic kept real fans out.
Quite honestly, it’s an awful idea and one that would rival the folly of Fox’s worst sports broadcasting “innovation” with its glowing puck fiasco of the late 90s. Instead of embracing the historic moment of hosting professional sports in front of no fans, one we’ll hopefully never see again in our lifetimes, Fox executives are basically going to fill the stands with Madden avatars to make everything seem more normal IN THESE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES.
It’s just an awful idea… but if the producers are smart they’ll tailor each “fan” in different stadiums to closely mimic the real life fan base of each franchise. Make the virtual fans as close to reality as the fans who will be huffing paint thinner in the comfort of their own homes this fall instead of tailgate lots each Sunday morning.
Take note, Fox, and if you insist on this nonsense here are some tips to make the virtual NFC fans as “real” as possible:
Eagles – Fans are programmed to chant “fuck Troy Aikman” and “Cowboys suck” four to five times each quarter. Virtual beer sales will be cut off at halftime.
Cowboys – An algorithm will be created to give each fan a unique backstory to cover up the fact that they’re frontrunners when their virtual friends ask why they’re fans of the Cowboys when they grew up in Toledo, Ohio.
Redskins – To give FedExField a uniquely true-to-life game day experience, virtual fans will only fill 55% of the seats and most will leave by halftime.
Giants – All fans will be coded with a deep yearning for the “good old days” of Eli Manning throwing for 174 yards, 1 touchdown, and three interceptions.
Packers – Virtual models of Aaron Rodgers family will be barred from attending games.
Vikings – Using state of the art artificial intelligence, each fan will have a broken spirit installed in their programming that won’t let them enjoy the Vikings’ inevitable 5-1 start because deep down they know the team will let them down in the most heart-breaking and hilarious fashion.
Lions – The ratio of fans wearing garbage bags over their heads will be programmed to increase exponentially after each game.
Bears – Each fan’s mustache will be digitally created with millions of perfectly rendered hairs and beautifully animated vomit will be guaranteed to drip as lifelike as possible down the double-chins of Chicago’s finest during each excruciatingly tedious 10-3 loss.
Saints – After each loss, fans will automatically register a class-action lawsuit against the NFL for “cheating” or some other conspiracy bullshit and will be the laughing stock of all virtual NFL fandoms.
Buccaneers – Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski avatars will be used for each fan model after seeing the initial mockups of “regular” Tampa Bay sports fans.
Panthers – Each fan will have several canned excuses coded into their personalities as to why the team had to drop Cam Newton when Teddy Bridgewater is benched by week four.
Falcons – God, I don’t know… does anyone even know a Falcons fan? Do they exist in the wild? Do they have any defining characteristics outside of half-heartedly following a team whose biggest highlight in the last 30 years is blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super bowl?
Rams – Fans will be designed wearing old Rams jerseys during games because not even fake fans want to wear those new gross monstrosities.
Cardinals – Shocked expressions will be programmed into each fans’ face when they find out Kurt Warner is no longer the team’s quarterback.
Seahawks – All the crowd noise is fake anyways so there won’t be much of a difference with the virtual fans.
49ers – Fans will be programmed to automatically groan each time Jimmy Garoppolo drops back to pass.