Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and confirmed cadaver John Denver will be re-animated from beyond the grave to introduce West Virginia's starting offense in the Mountaineers' season finale against Pittsburgh this weekend, ESPN officials announced Thursday.
The move marks the first time a human corpse has been revived from the icy, eternal grip of death to announce a starting lineup since Lazarus was miraculously risen from his tomb by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ of Nazareth in 31 A.D. to introduce the defense of his alma mater, the Cyprus 49ers.
Though an New Mexico native, Denver is the writer of the 1971 hit "Take Me Home, Country Roads," an ode to West Virginia and an unidentified "mountain momma" whose folk-tinged sweetness reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is the theme song of West Virginia University and has been performed before every home game since 1972, including a live performance by Denver in 1980, in front of first-time WVU head coach Don Nehlen and thankful fans with no inkling of the grisly death the artist would suffer
alone in the mountains when his plane pluned into the churning Pacific two and a half decades later.
"We're always trying to up the ante for our increasingly sophisticated viewers, who demand cutting edge sportstainment. They've quickly grown tired of coaches, players, alumni and even cartoon characters introducing instantly forgettable lineups. We have to keep upping the ante," said ESPN producer Fred Gaudelli, whose crew will produce the game and administer drugs to keep the mop-haired zombie from becoming too aware of the state of his rapidly decomposing body. "When we saw West Virginia on the schedule, we immediately thought of the song, and it hit us simultaneously, 'John Denver.' Then it was like, Jinx! We had to dig him up."
The introductions will be taped before the game, if Denver's rigor mortis-racked, decaying remains can be positioned in front of a camera and brought to life in a terrible storm of elictricity that claimed the lives of commentator Mark Jones and a half dozen Disney make-up artists in trial runs. An attempt at an on-field concert after the game is rumored to employ an Egyptian-style sarcophogous, according to Gaudelli, depending on how well the frigid Morgantown air can preserve the singer's stinking, rotting flesh.
"It's always a crazy, fun show, and I can't wait to be right in the middle of the action," the deceased singer-songwriter said from the afterlife through a spokesman. "I always hoped to get back to sing for those great kind West Virginians again, and possibly feast on their dellightful mountain brains. You know, I suggested to Coach Nehlen back in 1980 that he try a `spread option' that I saw once being run by the Northern Paiute tribe in Idaho, when my functioning brain still had the capacity for memory and critical thought. But he just said 'sing yer song, hippie.' Those were heady days.
"But a Mexican coach, I didn't see that coming."
Denver's career has flatlined since his untimely demise, though his agent was in reanimation talks with the musical "Almost Heaven," based on Denver's songs, until negotiations hit a snag when producers refused to let the singer's cadaver croon on "Calypso/I'm Sorry."
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Huge thanks to Joel at Rocky Top Talk for the screenshot.