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Pity the Fool: A Requiem For Mr. T Ate My Balls

By Alex Gordon   June 25, 1997

Once and a great while a Web site is built that is so striking in its originality and creativity that even in these corporate-clogged days, it proves that the Internet is not just hype, but truly a revolutionary medium.

Mr. T Ate My Balls was one such site.

Today the world -- not just the World Wide Web -- is a little bit poorer, for the Mr. T Ate My Balls Web site is no more.

Fabled Web sites come and go all the time; last year's "cool" site is this year's relic. But perhaps no site in the short history of the Web has enjoyed a more meteoric rise and fall than Mr. T Ate My Balls.

For the uninitiated, Mr. T Ate My Balls was the brainchild of Nehal Patel, an engineering student and arguably the most innovative Internet figure to hail from the University of Illinois since Marc Andreessen. Based on an inside joke between him and his friends, Patel imagined a world in which Mr. T, the mohawked and bejeweled star of the A-Team, had an insatiable appetite for balls. Patel doctored some Mr. T GIFs with dialogue bubbles expressing this desire and the rest is history.

The Mr. T Ate My Balls page captured the collective fancy of amateur Webmasters everywhere. Soon "Ate My Balls" pages were popping up everywhere on the Web. Do a Yahoo! search for your favorite celeb or icon and more often than not, one of the sites found will be "(Fill in the blank) Ate My Balls."

But while today you can access Ate My Balls sites featuring everyone from Alf to Xena, click on the original Mr. T site and all you'll find is the somber message:

"This page is no longer up."

In the end, the Mr. T page was a victim of the trend it spearheaded. Patel, in an exclusive interview, explains that a couple of weeks ago he got e-mail bombed from someone who apparently was upset by a Kurt Cobain Ate My Balls page. "Prior to that, I had also been receiving mail about other peoples' pages, but I did not really mind it until the hate mail started to grow to ridiculous numbers."

Patel is a somewhat reluctant pioneer. He never sought out the spotlight. In fact, of the hundreds of sites influenced by his site he says most of them are not memorable.

"Actually, I think it has gotten almost out of hand. I never expected everyone and their mother to create their own page from an idea that came from an inside joke with some of my friends at college my freshman year."

Bruised by the sudden deluge of hate mail, Patel says the world has probably seen the last of his Mr. T page (and its sequel, the underrated "Chewbacca Ate My Balls"). Luckily, the Web is a fountain of creativity, and just as one trend seems to be running its course, another one rushes into fill the void.

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