14:55 – Holding. 5y penalty.

12:55 – Unsportsmanlike conduct. 10y penalty.

4:77 – Posession by unauthorized spirit. 5y penalty.

1:00 – Too many men on the field. 17 unauthorized players ejected from field, 7.7y penalty.

15:00 – Illegal laying on of hands. 15hp penalty to quarterback.

14:12 – Holding. 10y penalty.

13:13 – Illegal hex. Blight End ejected for turning wide reciever into horned toad.

7:77 – Palpably unfair act. 10y penalty for all players in impromptu love-in.

5:10 – Unsportsmanlike conduct. 5y penalty.

1:05 – Leaping. 10,000 ft cruising altitude penalty.

12:21 – Offsides. 10y penalty.

10:46 – Intentional grounding. 1500 volt penalty through tight end.

5:57 – Unsportsmanlike conduct. 15y penalty.

2:28 – Pass interference. 15 gallons of Immodium AD confiscated. 20y penalty.

14:31 – Personal fowl. Illegal chicken escorted off of field. 5y penalty.

12:01 – Offsides. 5y penalty.

9:32 – Roughing the snapper. Sparky the Snapping Turtle replaced with his backup, Snarky the Snapping Turtle. 10y penalty.

8:18 – Targeting. Satellite Orbital Laser (SOL) guidance lock remotely disabled after severing tight end’s arm. 5y penalty

3:33 – Tripping. 12 blotters of lysergic acid diethylamide confiscated. 10y penalty.

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CARL: This is Carl Drake, play-by-play commentator for NBS Broadcasting, coming at you live from inside the Maddening NFL 2k17 for the Microny Hexbone or the Sonsoft PrayStation VI.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. This is Tom Hicks, color commentator for NBS Broadcasting, and I am also trapped with you, body and soul, inside this game.

CARL: Guess we should have read that contract a little more closely, eh?

TOM: That’s right, Carl. I find myself in a digital nightmare from which there is no waking. I have no mouth and yet I must scream. But now onto the field, where the R’lyeh Rightstars are setting up their line of scrimmage opposite the player’s team, which is…

CARL: The Ulthar Wildcats. Sorry for interrupting, Tom, but they need to insert the team name with it feeling seamless. I’d recommend a quick snap and a field goal on this play.

TOM: That’s right, Carl, but it looks like the player is going to try and run it in. They have their non-Euclidean quarterback on the left and somehow on the right, and their ghoul linebackers are loping into position.

CARL: And there’s the sack! R’lyeh has one of the best defensive lines in the league, with one thousand black goat-horrors to choose from, and their coach is of course the great Bill Yog-Sothoth, who was itself a featured character in Maddening NFL 94.

TOM: That’s right, Carl, though I doubt this player was ought but a zygote in ’94. Forming up again on the R’lyeh twenty, I once again recommend a snap and field goal to even out the score and gain a chance at a better field position.

CARL: And once again, the player chooses to try and run it in on their last down. They have stocked their line with Mi-Go fungus-crabs as well, indicating that they lack even the most basic knowledge of how the game works.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. Player, if you haven’t turned off the commentator feature entirely, I implore to to reach for reason in the midst of madness.

CARL: And after exactly three seconds of play, the Uthar Wildcats are down. R’lyeh now has posession, and as the comoputer-controlled player here I predict that they, at least, will follow our advice.

TOM: That’s right, Carl, I see a rage quit coming on. Which do you think is worse: giving the same canned commentary over and over here in the game, or returning to the deathless sleep beyond time into which we are thrown when the game is turned off?

CARL: That’s like asking if you’d rather be sacked by an Elder Thing or a Shoggoth, Tom. I’d rather just find a way to corrupt the disc and and it all forever in the sweet release of oblivion.

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Days don’t come much nicer than that handful of warm but crackling spins in early fall. Warm enough that you don’t need a jacket, yet with enough of a cool bite that you don’t wind up dripping. The Hopewell Arboretum was never busier than on those few days, especially since they tended to coincide with the first few major assignments due at the university. Lovely fall days are never better than when they’ve got the pungent notes of procrastination mixed in.

Three pledges from Alpha Qoppa Nu had gone out to toss a pigskin around on the green. They needed time to unwind after a vicious schedule of housecleaning and hazing, for one. For another…well, the green was verdent not only with carefully kept grass but also sunbathers insulated from the world by a cocoon of polarized lenses and pearly earphones.

A pass went wide, and the youngest pledge–only 17 thanks to an awkwardly-placed birthday–saw his throw go wide, bounding off the green and into the rough.

“Go get it, Ralph!” cried his fellow Alpha. “You throw for it, you go for it!”

Ralph complied with a sigh. His given name was Lawrence, or Larry to his old classmates at Deerton High. There had been an…incident…at his first Alpha mixer, though, involving a hose and spirits strong enough to need an exorcism just to get them out of the bottle. After the ensuing mess, he’d been known as “Ralph” to the entire Alpha house. Luckily, they seemed to find it endearing.

The brush snapped merrily, already lined with the beginnings of the fallen-leaf carpet that would soon be crushed under first snowfall. Ralph was able to make his way through the tangle with only a little difficulty, and most of that came from the glare of a magic-hour sun in his eyes.

His football lay about a hundred yards in, having careened of something or other, at the foot of a bridge. Judging by the layout, it had once spanned the reservoir that used to cover the arboretum, but the water’s disappearance left it hanging in space over a river tributary below, swift and deep.

Ralph took a tentative step out, reaching his hand for the oblate spheroid that was just a little out of reach on a structure with less integrity than a New York City alderman. He soon regretted even this timid action, as the rotting timbers gave way and sent man and ball tumbling toward the welcoming drink below.

Inspired by the song ‘Alpha Ralpha’ by Hiroki Kikuta, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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NBS Broadcasting and NBS Sports is proud to present this week’s Tom Hicks and Carl Drake “Underdog of the Moment” award to the University of Northern Mississippi’s Fighting Abolitionists. Fresh off their 31-30 defeat of the Southern Michigan University Fighting Grizzlies, the Abs are up against the #2 ranked State University of Arkansas Devastating Tornadoes.

Drake had this to say about the pick: “While the ‘Does smashed their last opponent, Arkansas State, 97-2, I feel that the Abs have a fighting chance against the larger, better-funded, and more popular school. Why? Because the season is looking like a dull-as-ditchwater arms race between the schools with the biggest pocketbooks right now, and predicting unlikely upsets is as close to some real suspense as we’re likely to get.”

Hicks added that “Northern Mississippi hasn’t beaten a nationally ranked school since 1910, but the fans here have never given up hope, and it’s that do-or-die, giving 110%, hustle, and follow-through that ekes them out a special place among the sacrificial opponents the ‘Does have lined up to preserve their strength and sharpen their teeth before the inevitable bowl game.”

SUOA ‘Does coach Howard Gristle said of the award: “We’re looking forward to playing a team with gumption, and I guarantee that my boys will face a tough battle to be courteous as they pick the Abs out of their teeth, but I am confident that they have the hustle and follow-through to pull it off.”

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CARL: This is Carl Drake, play-by-play commentator for NBS Broadcasting, coming at you live from the NBS College Sports Channel’s telecast of the University of Northern Mississippi’s season opener against New Orleans State University.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. This is Tom Hicks, color commentator for NBS Broadcasting, banished along with my co-commentator to the risible National College Sports Association sports circuit as a punishment for our transgressions against our corporate overlords.

CARL: I wouldn’t call it risible, Tom. At least everyone on the field today is passionate, and some of the athletes might avoid major injury long enough to become second-string players on a minor Continental Football League team with strictly regional appeal.

TOM: That’s right, Carl, I should be grateful that they didn’t stick us back on the high school athletics scene. And the sight of those indentured athletes, playing without compensation so that their universities and the NCSA can reap profits not seen since the days of Crassus the Triumvir.

CARL: It’s of special note today that this is the first season that UNM is playing with its new mascot and team name, the UNM Fighting Abolitionists. You can see Johnny Freesoil the Fighting Abolitionist on the field now, capering about in an attempt to drown out the jeers thrown at him by an unresponsive crowd.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. The UNM team was previously known as the Raiders, with Johnny Raider as their swashbuckling mascot. But the name and mascot both engendered controversy, largely because they were thought to be named after Hextrill’s Raiders, a notorious band of Confederate partisans and bushwhackers who fought the Union along the Tennessee-Mississippi border.

CARL: You sound somewhat dismissive of that, Tom. I don’t have to remind you that Johnny Raider was a Confederate cavalryman in fully butternut grey dress with saber and pistol–an anachronism, as Hextrill’s men never worse uniforms–who routinely chased a caricature of Philip Sheridan off the field–another anachronism, as Sheridan fought solely in the Eastern theater of the war.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. While I don’t deny that the old name and especially the old mascot weren’t in the best taste, in their haste to mollify everyone they managed to come up with a name and mascot that strike even this card-carrying Democrat as cloying. Better for them to ape the University of Michigan to become the Fighting Letter Ms.

CARL: Fair, enough, Tom, fair enough. What do you say we talk a bit about the game? It looks like someone just made a touchdown or something.

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TOM: And we are back with this nail-biter of an MMOFL battle with the Grimomar Goblins against the Wyndstorm Warriors. And I see that the Warriors are putting their all into this attack; just look at those mana bars deplete.

CARL: That’s right, Tom. Offensive lineman Harry “The Bulldozer” Calhoun attacks his opponents with his +2 Shoulderpads of Fiery Torment. Looks like about 20 hit points of damage to me.

TOM: We’ll have to check the tape for that, but he’s definitely getting an XP bonus from that one.

CARL: That’s right, Tom. And is that quarterback Dequan “Golden Arm” Washington readying a pass? Yes, protected by the tanking of his offensive line, he is readying a throw. Is that the uncommon Ball of +1 Passing we’ve seen him use before?

TOM: No, it looks like the rare purple ball “Oblate Spheroid of the Thundering Darkness” the team won last week.

CARL: That’s right, Tom. A bold move, that ball only has five charges.

TOM: There’s the pass, and…it’s good! A 110-yard touchdown to receiver Dan “The Shiv” Jablonsky, who stealthed and snuck into the endzone unbeknownst to the opposing team. And that looks like an automatic 200 hit points of damage to every member of the other team.

CARL: That’s right, Tom, they’re falling like flies. The players have already broken ranks to loot their fallen corpses.

TOM: Oh, but what’s that horn and the sound of drums in the deep? It looks like the mighty doors hidden beneath the stadium are being opened.

CARL: That’s right, Tom, it looks like it’s time for a boss fight, and if the strategy guide is correct the team will now be facing Grogthank the Devourer, Demon of the Seventh Eye.

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“As you are aware, we have been asked to read a statement from the Continental Football League,” said CFL play-by-play announcer-at-large Carl Drake.

“That’s right, Carl,” added Tom Hicks, his color-announcement partner-in-crime and Gal-Friday. “We have the somber duty, as designated neutral third parties, to announce to you that Ulysses Calhoun, who you may know as the star forward of the Southern Michigan University Fighting Grizzlies, has failed to report for duty at the Richmond Squires spring training camp.”

“This constitutes evasion of the CFL draft, one of our nation’s most sacred institutions,” continued Carl Drake sorrowfully. “Those of you with a passion for history may recall that the CFL has not had a draft dodger since ‘Dike’ DeSilvo refused to report for training with the Iowa Caucuses in 1972, and that no draft dodging player has been convicted and sentenced since ‘Kiddie’ Voles failed to appear at the Birmingham Klansmen’s Grand Wizard Stadium in 1923.”

Tom Hicks, his head lowered, pursed his lips. “That’s right, Carl. It is our sad task to inform you that Ulysses Calhoun is now considered a fugitive from professional football. Under CFL Bylaw #237-B, it is hereby prohibited for anyone to give him aid or succor, and it is further required that anyone seeing Ulysses Calhoun or with knowledge of his whereabouts must come forward with this information. Failure to do so will constitute a violation of CFL Bylaw #237-B, and any such persons will be held as equally guilty of draft dodging.”

“While we urge the public’s help in assisting in the apprehension of this draft dodger, we must caution that Ulysses Calhoun is to be considered unarmed and dangerous. Do not approach him. We also wish to avoid a repeat of the unfortunate incident from the 1955 CFL draft when Swedish recruit Diks Vloeide was accidentally lynched on his way to training camp after a rumor emerged that he was a draft dodger.”

“That’s right, Carl,” sighed Tom Hicks. “Do not approach, confront, or attempt to apprehend Ulysses Calhoun. Report his location to the nearest local branch of the CFL armed forces and take shelter until the CFL Special Operations Group has had the opportunity to deploy. These dedicated professionals, many of them CFL veterans themselves, have the necessary combat, sport, and large animal handling experience to apprehend Calhoun and bring him to justice.

“The CFL Special Operations Group has honed their skills reining in CFL players during drunken escapades, drug binges, outbreaks of roid rage, and the rare, regretful circumstances when a player breaks containment and is allowed to roam free among the populace,” said Carl Drake. “Report any sightings, let them do their job, and soon we will be able to put these unfortunate events behind us.”

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