World of Sport

New German NFL star learnt sport by playing Madden games

World of Sport

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A screenshot from Madden 2003

Bjoern Werner is one of many new NFL draftees who comes to the league via a somewhat unconventional route. Bjoern was born in Berlin and only played two years of high school football, but nonetheless established himself as a beast of a defensive end in three years at Florida State.

But there aren't many options to play football in Germany, so as a lad, Werner had to educate himself. As he told Indianapolis radio station 1070 The Fan, he learned football by playing Madden. "I knew every NFL star probably when I was 12, 13 or 14," he said. "I learned every team, every player in the game and I always created my little All-Star games, All-Star teams."

And given that the early teen years weren't that long ago, Werner will be lining up against and alongside some of the same players he once controlled: "When I was 12, 13, 14, I played with [defenders] Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. They were like the dynamic duo for years. Now I’m going to play with Robert Mathis. He’s going to be my veteran. I can ask questions, I can look up to him." Good plan; a four-time Pro Bowler is the closest thing you're going to get to a cheat code in the NFL.

This is reminiscent of the time that onetime prodigy and now golf superstar Rory McIlroy first visited Sawgrass, the home of The Players Championship, and realised that playing the actual course was quite different from schooling it on the PlayStation version. Werner, similarly, will probably wish at some point that he could "accidentally" kick out the plug (you've done it, don't lie) but, alas, the league doesn't work that way. Unless you're Bill Belichick.

Football video games are so realistic now that you can take "exams" in "college" and "negotiate" your "salary" in the pros while "working out" to put yourself in position to be "drafted." You see where this is headed, don't you? Pretty soon your virtual avatar within the video game will be playing a video game to learn how to play the "real" game that's really just a video game. Man, this is like "Inception" with more tackling.

Jay BusbeeShutdown Corner

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