Our buddies over at Kissing Suzy Kolber (HI MATT!) have been fascinated by Cleatus, FOX NFL Sunday’s guitar-thursting, Iron Man-fighting party robot, since before it was cool. He now has an action figure, Twitter account*, and spin-off. But Cleatus, who has been dancing like Ray Lewis next to Bud Light bottles since 2005, was missing one crucial element of fame: fan fiction. Until now.
(* Cleatus’ Twitter wisdom includes: “What’s going on with The Fins? Never trust a man in sunglasses” and “I set my clock for Day Lights savings but I forgot to set it for @timtebow TIME!”)
Recently, in a post for WBEZ, writer/A.V. Club TV critic Claire Zulkey wrote an article entitled, “The Secret Life of Cleatus the FOX Sports Robot.” Like so many others before her, she became fascinated by Cleatus, and noticed that the robot looked more menacing and had been dancing less this season. Was he not computing? Was he not doing other robot things, like gradually becoming more sentient? Naturally, she and a friend wondered if there was any Cleatus fan fiction out there, and when they saw there wasn’t, she asked readers to send their stories to her.
All of the submissions Zulkey received are pretty great, but here are some of my favorite excerpts:
I imagine he actually grew up as a nerd robot. He once worked in a library as a card catalog system or as an early beta version of Google, but he was eventually marked obsolete and discarded. Now he has hit the gym and ever since he started his job at FOX, he gets all the robot ladies with his big shoulders and piercing blue eyes. I believe he is pointing at all the nay-sayers out there who said he couldn’t do it and there was no way he could reinvent himself.
After graduating high school, Cleatus yearned to attend the University of Iowa to get his degree in poetry, but unfortunately, he was built to promote football, and went straight to the pros. Like Lady Gaga proclaims, he was born (or rather, built) this way, but he cries out in zeros and ones, was he meant to be built this way?…The next time you compose a haiku, dedicate it to poor Cleatus, because while you may not be as famous or invulnerable as he is, at least you have your own free will.
The team had grown to love Cleatus as a son and was beyond distraught. In order to keep him alive and not sent off to some robot farm up north, they made a few adjustments to his programming and he became the cold, menacing Cleatus you know today.
(Hat tip to The Awl.)