The lights are on
EA Sports' slogan "if it's in the game it's in the game" apparently doesn't apply to special teams long snappers. Though Madden NFL 11 supports full 53-man rosters, they often exclude the less glamorous specialists in favor of practice squad skill players. One NFL team has taken notice, and it doesn't sit well with many of the players.
Minnesota Vikings long snapper Cullen Loeffler has been on the team for seven years, but he has yet to appear in a Madden game. "I'm very disappointed that they overlooked one of the best players on the team," said Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson. "He's invaluable."
Loeffler isn't the only long snapper left out in the cold by developer EA Tiburon. Only one true long snapper is included in Madden NFL 11, Zak DeOssie of the New York Giants, but he'd probably rather not be. His long snapping rating? A slanderous 0 out of 100. The player currently listed as the Vikings long snapper in Madden is center John Sullivan, who said "I did long snap that one day at practice, but I did terrible." Apparently Madden ratings czar Donny Moore, who determines each team's depth chart in the game, thinks he can handle the job.
Vikings public relations director Bog Hagen believes something must be done to recognize these overlooked players. "I think it's a slap in the face to the profession of long snappers," he said.
"How can long snappers get in the Pro Bowl, yet not be in one of the top
video games in America?"
When reached for comment, Loeffler said he doesn't even bother checking out Madden anymore. "I don't even play it, mainly for the reason I'm not in it," he admitted. "I feel disrespected." With 31 of 32 long snappers missing from the game, they've created a quasi-support group to deal with the pain of being left out. "It's brought us together, we've kind of formed a band of brothers since we've been disrespected for so long," Loeffler joked.
EA Tiburon's exclusionary policy toward long snappers has created yet
another schism in the Vikings locker room, which is no stranger
to controversy. While some teammates have come to Loeffler's defense, other have
used it as yet another tool to alienate the special teamers. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Pat Williams loves to give Loeffler a hard time about it. "[He] was laughing at me all day long yesterday for not being
in the game," Loeffler admits. "He said I don't even exist."
The team's grey bearded gunslinger Brett Favre, who worked with EA Tiburon when he appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 09, may be in on the conspiracy. "I think it probably makes the game better," said the all-time NFL leader in touchdowns/interceptions. "Who the f*** is Cullen Loeffler?"
With the help of punter Chris Kluwe, who calls himself "Chris Warcraft" in the third person, we polled the Vikings, and the controversy has the team split down the middle. Here's what they had to say:
Set The Long Snappers Free CampKevin Williams – "I think it's a travesty, you should always have the snapper in the game."
Sidney Rice – "That's messed up.
Madden's supposed to be for everyone in the league; it's not right to
be missing a person. Handle that!"
Percy Harvin – "It's a total disrespect to long snappers."
E.J. Henderson – "Tragedy."
Antoine Winfield – "That's disappointing and disrespectful."
Visanthe Shiancoe – "Why the hell isn't he in there? ...for real, why not?"
Ray Edwards – "That's f***ed up!"
Ryan Longwell – "I actually returned the game once I got home and found out, that's how much [Cullen] means to me."
Chris Kluwe – "As an avid gamer, it wrenches my heartstrings to see
this unfortunate lack of respect for one of the best snappers in the
business. Also, [EA] should bump my stats up."
Rhys Lloyd – "I think it's a disgrace, when we
talk about realism in the game, that we don't have the real snapper and
holder (Tarvaris Jackson is currently the holder) in the game. Cullen
Loeffler is a fantastic human being. Boom."Who Cares CampJared Allen – "I do NOT care."
Steve Hutchinson – "I DO not CARE."
Pat Williams – "I feel good about that, that's the greatest thing I've heard all day."
Greenway – "I feel like, as a snapper, he should be grateful to be in
an NFL organization, so he should shut his mouth and not worry about a
Ben Leber – "I think it's appropriate. I don't think he deserves to be in there. I'm not even sure he's a human being."
Jim Kleinsasser – "Awesome!"
Cullen Loeffler – "Seems like just another day at the office."
Will EA Sports do the right thing and start including the the long-overlooked long snappers in future roster updates? We've reached out to them for comment and will update the story when they respond.
[UPDATE] EA Sports has responded, but apparently Cullen Loeffler's pleas have fallen on deaf ears. EA Tiburon public relations director Rob Semsey answered our line of query with a curt "We don't have a comment." Don't give up hope yet long snappers – because your cause is just, if you keep fighting the good fight one day you will earn your emancipation from the shackles of irrelevancy. Or you could send E.J. Henderson down to Florida to straighten them out. He's a badass mofo with a 92 hit rating who probably won't take no for an answer.
Content manager Matt Bertz contributed to this report.
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