The story of the music video begins well before a single frame was shot. It begins before Brian Guendling was even born, actually.
Guendling is the son of Mike Guendling, a former linebacker at Northwestern and the San Diego Chargers. He is also the brother to Billy and Tom, mentally challenged brothers born before and after Mike. Each is blind and does not possess the ability to feed or care for himself.
As Mike's football career exploded, Mike kept close contact with his brothers. "They are never far from my mind," he told the newsletter for The Hope School, a school for the mentally challenged in Springfield, Ill., in 1986.
In addition to his physical ability, Guendling passed along a love for the mentally challenged to his son, Brian. "I met them at a very young age and I used to help take care of them when I would go out and visit," Brian told FootballScoop. "When I was born the doctors told my parents that they were almost positive I was going to be just like my dad's brothers due to the test results. I've been enrolled in special education and just growing up around special needs my whole life."
That proximity to the special needs community lead Guendling to take a sign language class at Poway High School in southern California, which led to him coaching a deaf baseball team, which, after stops at Nevada and Palomar Community College, led him to Texas State. That led to a chance meeting in line at Chipotle.
"I was in line at Chipotle after tubing on the San Marcos river and my roommate tapped me on the shoulder since I did not have my 'ears on' she said there’s a guy behind us waving trying to get our attention," Guendling's friend Karlie Franke told me over email. "He started signing to us and his excitement was funny. We exchanged numbers then later met up to get to know each and I learned he had a passion for sign language. It didn’t take long before we became good friends."
Guendling, who appeared in four games and registered a pair of tackles as a first-year defensive end in 2014, then started driving to San Antonio "every two or three days, probably," and continued ground-floor research he began in California on deaf people's experience with concerts, or, more precisely, lack thereof. "I asked my friends from California and here, 'Have you guys ever experienced concert life?' I asked 70-to-75 of them and every single one of them said no," Guendling said. "But every single one of them said they wanted to attend one, just like the hearing. Deaf people are no different than we are. Just because they can't hear, that doesn't mean anything. The fact that they don't get to enjoy night life like we do, it's unfair."
Guendling worked with Franke and the San Antonio deaf community to sign Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk," then created choreography, bought costumes and recruited his teammates to join him.
Guendling sees the video, up over 38,000 views since going live Monday, as just the first act in what he call his "life's work." "I've had deaf people and hard of hearing people blowing me up, saying thank you," he said. "This means so much to my community. Since last night I've had deaf people contacting me, telling me what their dreams are. I had one deaf kid in Dallas contact me telling me, 'I want to be the first deaf kid in history to run 200 miles in 48 hours.'"
"I think it is a great thing for him to sign songs so the deaf and hard of hearing can understand the words and be apart of the joy that music can bring," Franke said.
"Brian is a very passionate guy. He cares very deeply for his teammates, he wears his feelings on his sleeves. If I walked by the weight room right now, he'd be jumping on one of his teammates' backs," said Texas State defensive line coach Rick Hudson. "This is something that comes strictly from his heart. He worked extremely hard on the video. This comes from his heart, plain and simple."
The plan from here, Guendling says, is a live concert. "Every person signs differently. There's a lot of different ways to sign each word, so I'll be posting my exact signs on my YouTube channel so the deaf community can sign along just like you and I can sing along. There will be costumes provided. It'll be a show."