Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Despite being 6 feet 5 with a shock of red hair, Ethan Albright is rather invisible around the Washington Redskins. It's probably fair to say most fans would not recognize the team's long snapper. But in the world of Madden NFL, Albright has something of a cult following.
His player rating of 53 is the lowest in the popular video game.
And in the NFL, where many players spend hours at home playing the game, teasing each other about their rankings, that number can be the most important statistic in their lives. Several lobby the manufacturer Electronic Arts to complain.
Not Albright. "I don't care," he says. "It's a video game."
Even with the rating he probably would have remained anonymous were it not for a profanity-filled letter to NBC Sports analyst John Madden, who helped EA Sports develop the game. The letter carried Albright's name on the bottom with the signature line "Rot in Hell" that made its way around the Internet. He did not write the letter and admits that when he first saw it, "I laughed my butt off."
He says he has never called EA Sports and does not play the game. He did come across a story where EA's people said they just stick long snappers at the bottom of their ratings because there is no real way to rate a long snapper.
"When I'm at home I have four little ones," he says of his children, ages 7, 5, 3 and 1. "I'm busy trying to help raise them."
As for his career, Albright is in his 12th NFL season, far longer than probably two-thirds of the players with a better rating. He must be doing something right.
-- Les Carpenter