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Madden's Little Guy: The Smallest Player in NFL History

That little player you see is actually in the most recent football game from Electronic Arts—Madden NFL 15. The player appears to be based on 6-foot-2 Cleveland Browns rookie Christian Kirksey, even though in the game he’s wearing a Titans jersey and is listed at 14 inches tall. The little guy can miraculously hold on to a fumble but is unable to reach up for a high-five with his teammates or make a tackle.

If we go to the data on this, we’ll see that, at 1-foot-2, the little guy would be—by far—the shortest in the history of the NFL, and also ever. (Most newborn babies are at least 18 inches long.) In player statistics compiled by Aragorn Technologies, we found a list of the shortest players by position since the data were available almost a century ago, even predating the 1966 merger.

The little guy in the game—also referred to as Ant Man—is a glitch, and it’s not the only one. There are many in this current release, including several variations of players who fly completely off the screen, levitate a few feet, or get thrown into the sky or tossed 10 feet when trying to recover a fumble.

The problems are legend in the history of Madden, so much so that by 2009, fans had started to compile lists of the worst glitches in the game’s history. More arrived in 20102011, and 2012.

It is possible Madden’s tiny guy is the extreme embodiment of a real-life NFL trend: In the past generation, teams have preferred shorter linebackers to keep up with a faster style of play.

Chemi is head of research for Businessweek and Bloomberg TV.
Glassman is a writer and data journalist for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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