These people have all etched their place in history for standing up against a wrong and, to varying degrees, going to the mat for their beliefs. Vikings long snapper Cullen Loeffler also has a dream – a much less significant dream.
Loeffler is spearheading an ill-conceived, yet somehow compelling, boycott of the Madden 11 video game. Despite the massive advancements in the technology of the Madden game over the years and the recent inclusion of such bells and whistles as "Swagger Ratings" for players, the role of the long snapper remains separate and unequal.
On Friday, Loeffler appeared by phone on ESPN2's "First Take," the less-snarky spawn of "Cold Pizza," to plead the case of long snappers everywhere. They have been ignored in the game. To his dismay, when Ryan Longwell attempts a field goal or Chris Kluwe has to punt in the Madden game, John Sullivan is doing the snapping. In an attempt to find video of Loeffler, the show had footage of him snapping a practice field goal – to Morten Andersen – as well as what appeared to be footage from the same game of Loeffler belly-flopping on a punt to down the ball. Not necessarily exciting footage, but it put his plight into perspective and showed that he, like other long snappers, actually are NFL players and worthy of the respect and dignity of their NFL brethren.
Loeffler is hoping to raise awareness to the discrimination of long snappers leaguewide, from the stench of the smelting plants of Pittsburgh to the pre-blackened shrimp now available in New Orleans to streets paved with gold shell casings in Oakland. He brings a message of harmony and understanding seeking acknowledgement of the contributions made by long-suffering long snappers, who, at times, appear in as many as 10 to 12 plays a game. He hopes to overcome the prejudice that has kept long snappers as second-class citizens and not the specialists they've convinced themselves they are. His struggle is going largely unnoticed, something he hopes to rectify one appearance at a time.
Is Loeffler a patriot or just a pissy, misguided crackpot? We're leaning toward patriot. Fight the power!
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.