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I’m Better Than 245 NFL Players At Catching Footballs

“Madden NFL 16” came out Tuesday, and with it a suite of new NFL player evaluations. The folks at Madden have a difficult job: finding a way to quantify hundreds of athletes on a range of skills to accurately represent a complicated game. But earlier this year, the Madden ratings team at EA Sports took a stab at something a little harder: quantifying the NFL readiness of a normal schlub.

That normal schlub was me.

I completed a bunch of drills, got my head scanned into the game, got a record-low Madden rating in essentially every possible category (all the ratings are between 0 and 100, with the best players in the game getting a coveted 99; I got an overall rating of 12). I watched as my inept avatar was mercilessly pounded into the turf by players at the extreme end of the athletic bell curve.

Lesson learned: Normal people can’t hack it in the NFL.

Evidently, though, I didn’t fully learn that lesson. Knowing the 2016 ratings would be released this month, I held on to a speck of hope that I would beat an NFL player — that some player would fall below my 12 overall rating. They still have preseason scrubs on the rosters, right?

But there was never any hope. I am still worse than everyone. I am still far worse than everyone. Joe Cardona, a long snapper for the New England Patriots, has the lowest overall rating. His is 47, about 4 times my rating.

Moreover, in the five major attributes that Madden rates — speed, acceleration, strength, agility and awareness — I was thoroughly crushed by every single person in the league. (Want to test this out in Madden 2016? I’ve provided my ratings at the bottom of this post. Make a player with my skill set, and if Madden isn’t hard enough for you already, give it a shot with me under center.)

The closest I got to victory in the five main categories was in strength. My strength rating — 15 — isn’t anything special, but Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski beat me by just 1 point.

But here’s the thing: There are dozens of other, less important player ratings — jumping, consistency, route running, etc. — and I was vetted in all of them. EA can’t scientifically rate every real NFL player in every single skill; the game designers have to make some assumptions in the absence of real data. What data does EA have to rate a rookie linebacker’s catching and throwing ability? Basically none. So for less important ratings, the game makers essentially guess.

That being said: I earned a catching rating of 29. There are 245 players who have a catching rating of 28 or less. Some are really good in other categories — linemen, quarterbacks and so on — but all of them have a sub-29 rating in catching.

I am not great at receiving.

walt_catch copy

But because this whole process has been such a blow to my ego, I’m going to claw back some self-regard. Below is an alphabetically sorted list of active NFL players who, according to Madden 2016, are worse than me at catching footballs.

Tony Romo, come at me bro.

Oday Aboushi (Jets, RT); Jared Allen (Bears, ROLB); Josh Allen (Buccaneers, C); Ryan Allen (Patriots, P); Tyson Alualu (Jaguars, LE); Derek Anderson (Panthers, QB); Geno Atkins (Bengals, DT); Jason Babin (Jets, ROLB); Chris Baker (Redskins, DT); Connor Barth (Broncos, K); Zane Beadles (Jaguars, LG); Will Beatty (Giants, LT); Nick Becton (Saints, RT); Tony Bergstrom (Raiders, LG); Joel Bitonio (Browns, LG); Conor Boffeli (Bears, RG); Taylor Boggs (Lions, C); Clint Boling (Bengals, LG); Alex Boone (49ers, RG); Alan Branch (Patriots, DT); Michael Brockers (Rams, DT); Josh Brown (Giants, K); Matt Bryant (Falcons, K); Bryan Bulaga (Packers, RT); Jermon Bushrod (Bears, LT); Marcus Cannon (Patriots, LT); Chris Canty (Ravens, RE); Shane Carden (Bears, QB); Alex Carrington (Bills, LE); Jurrell Casey (Titans, RE); Matt Cassel (Bills, QB); Josh Chapman (Colts, DT); Chris Clark (Broncos, RT); Chris Clemons (Jaguars, RE); Colin Cole (Panthers, DT); Willie Colon (Jets, LG); Britton Colquitt (Broncos, P); Dustin Colquitt (Chiefs, P); Matt Conrath (Steelers, LE); Kirk Cousins (Redskins, QB); Jermelle Cudjo (Lions, DT); Phil Dawson (49ers, K); David DeCastro (Steelers, RG); Mike DeVito (Chiefs, RE); Glenn Dorsey (49ers, DT); Demar Dotson (Buccaneers, LT); Vladimir Ducasse (Bears, RG); Dwan Edwards (Panthers, DT); Jahri Evans (Saints, RG); Tayo Fabuluje (Bears, RT); James Ferentz (Texans, C); D’Brickashaw Ferguson (Jets, LT); Ryan Fitzpatrick (Jets, QB); D.J. Fluker (Chargers, RT); Nick Foles (Rams, QB); Orlando Franklin (Chargers, LG); Zach Fulton (Chiefs, RG); Brandon Fusco (Vikings, RG); Blaine Gabbert (49ers, QB); Max Garcia (Broncos, C); Clifton Geathers (Steelers, RE); Adam Gettis (Giants, RG); Garrett Gilbert (Lions, QB); Marcus Gilbert (Steelers, RT); Garry Gilliam (Seahawks, RT); Mike Glennon (Buccaneers, QB); Mark Glowinski (Seahawks, LG); Eddie Goldman (Bears, DT); Kedric Golston (Redskins, LE); Robbie Gould (Bears, K); Kevin Graf (Eagles, RT); Hroniss Grasu (Bears, C); Garrett Grayson (Saints, QB); Tyronne Green (Panthers, RG); Ryan Groy (Bears, LG); Harland Gunn (Falcons, LG); Matt Hasselbeck (Colts, QB); Rob Havenstein (Rams, RT); Donald Hawkins (Dolphins, RT); Eric Herman (Giants, RG); Todd Herremans (Colts, RG); Sammie Hill (Titans, DT); Shaun Hill (Vikings, QB); Ziggy Hood (Jaguars, DT); Austin Howard (Raiders, RT); Jaye Howard (Chiefs, LE); Brian Hoyer (Texans, QB); John Hughes (Browns, RE); Tyson Jackson (Falcons, LE); Ja’Wuan James (Dolphins, RT); Sebastian Janikowski (Raiders, K); Ricky Jean Francois (Redskins, LE); Cullen Jenkins (Giants, LE); Antonio Johnson (Patriots, DT); Charles Johnson (Panthers, LE); Arthur Jones (Colts, RE); Chris Jones (Cowboys, P); Donnie Jones (Eagles, P); Jason Jones (Lions, LE); Marcel Jones (Ravens, RT); Linval Joseph (Vikings, DT); Mike Kafka (Vikings, QB); Ryan Kalil (Panthers, C); Senio Kelemete (Saints, LG); Darren Keyton (Lions, C); Daniel Kilgore (49ers, C); Sam Koch (Ravens, P); Michael Koenen (Buccaneers, P); Peter Konz (Falcons, C); Arie Kouandjio (Redskins, LG); T.J. Lang (Packers, RG); Spencer Lanning (Buccaneers, P); Ted Larsen (Cardinals, C); Shawn Lauvao (Redskins, LG); Shane Lechler (Texans, P); Andy Lee (Browns, P); Charles Leno (Bears, LT); Andy Levitre (Titans, LG); Patrick Lewis (Seahawks, C); Jeff Linkenbach (Dolphins, RG); Phil Loadholt (Vikings, RT); Cornelius Lucas (Lions, LT); Ryan Mallett (Texans, QB); Nick Mangold (Jets, C); Logan Mankins (Buccaneers, LG); Eli Manning (Giants, QB); Peyton Manning (Broncos, QB); Sean Mannion (Rams, QB); Jonathan Martin (Panthers, LT); Vaughn Martin (Chiefs, LE); Terrell McClain (Cowboys, DT); Jacques McClendon (Dolphins, C); Luke McCown (Saints, QB); Justin McCray (Titans, LG); Tony McDaniel (Seahawks, DT); Brandon Mebane (Seahawks, DT); Zach Mettenberger (Titans, QB); Roy Miller (Jaguars, DT); David Molk (Eagles, C); Eugene Monroe (Ravens, LT); Will Montgomery (Bears, C); C.J. Mosley (Dolphins, DT); Marshall Newhouse (Giants, LT); Derek Newton (Texans, RT); Nick Novak (Chargers, K); Mike Nugent (Bengals, K); Jared Odrick (Jaguars, DT); Cedric Ogbuehi (Bengals, LT); Michael Oher (Panthers, LT); Russell Okung (Seahawks, LT); Michael Ola (Bears, LG); Dan Orlovsky (Lions, QB); Kelechi Osemele (Ravens, LG); Brock Osweiler (Broncos, QB); Stephen Paea (Redskins, LE); Vinston Painter (Browns, LG); Tenny Palepoi (Chargers, RE); Carson Palmer (Cardinals, QB); Kevin Pamphile (Buccaneers, RT); Matt Paradis (Broncos, C); Jermey Parnell (Jaguars, RT); David Parry (Colts, DT); Erik Pears (49ers, RT); Domata Peko (Bengals, DT); Jeremiah Poutasi (Titans, RT); Manny Ramirez (Lions, LG); Jah Reid (Ravens, LG); Austin Reiter (Redskins, C); Joe Reitz (Colts, LT); Garrett Reynolds (Rams, RT); Philip Rivers (Chargers, QB); Travian Robertson (Redskins, RE); Corey Robinson (Lions, LT); Trevor Robinson (Chargers, C); Tony Romo (Cowboys, QB); Cairo Santos (Chiefs, K); Tom Savage (Texans, QB); Matt Schaub (Ravens, QB); Ryan Schraeder (Falcons, RT); Mitchell Schwartz (Browns, RT); Josh Scobee (Jaguars, K); George Selvie (Giants, RE); Tyler Shatley (Jaguars, RG); Danny Shelton (Browns, DT); Derek Sherrod (Chiefs, RT); A.Q. Shipley (Cardinals, C); Matt Simms (Bills, QB); Pat Sims (Bengals, DT); Matt Slauson (Bears, LG); Andre Smith (Bengals, RT); Antonio Smith (Broncos, RE); D’Anthony Smith (Seahawks, DT); Donovan Smith (Buccaneers, LT); Shelley Smith (Broncos, LG); Paul Soliai (Falcons, DT); Matthew Stafford (Lions, QB); Ricky Stanzi (Giants, QB); Donald Stephenson (Chiefs, RT); Devon Still (Bengals, DT); Byron Stingily (Titans, RT); Bryan Stork (Patriots, C); Zach Strief (Saints, RT); Caleb Sturgis (Dolphins, K); Ryan Succop (Titans, K); Darryl Tapp (Lions, RE); Lane Taylor (Packers, RG); Phil Taylor (Browns, DT); Cam Thomas (Steelers, LE); Robert Thomas (Redskins, DT); Brandon Thompson (Bengals, DT); Tyrus Thompson (Vikings, LT); Laken Tomlinson (Lions, LG); Justin Tuck (Raiders, LE); DeAngelo Tyson (Ravens, RE); Mitch Unrein (Chargers, DT); Bobby Vardaro (Vikings, RG); Dustin Vaughan (Cowboys, QB); Jared Veldheer (Cardinals, LT); Vance Walker (Broncos, LE); J.D. Walton (Dolphins, C); Greg Warren (Steelers, C); Brandon Washington (Rams, RT); Steve Weatherford (Giants, P); Jason Weaver (Bears, RT); J’Marcus Webb (Raiders, LT); Darrion Weems (Cowboys, LT); Ryan Wendell (Patriots, RG); Cody White (Texans, C); Andrew Whitworth (Bengals, LT); Daryl Williams (Panthers, RT); Kevin Williams (Saints, LE); Nick Williams (Chiefs, LE); Sylvester Williams (Broncos, DT); Trent Williams (Redskins, LT); C.J. Wilson (Raiders, RE); Brad Wing (Steelers, P); Brian Winters (Jets, LG); Stefen Wisniewski (Jaguars, C); Eric Wood (Bills, C); Al Woods (Titans, DT); Jarius Wynn (Bills, LE); T.J. Yates (Falcons, QB); Sam Young (Jaguars, LT); Dave Zastudil (Cardinals, P); Kevin Zeitler (Bengals, RG).

Well, that felt good.

Here were my individual ratings:

Overall 12
Speed 33
Strength 14
Agility 23
Acceleration 35
Awareness 10
Trucking 9
Elusiveness 10
Ball Carrier Vision 8
Stiff Arm 9
Spin Move 24
Juke Move 28
Carrying 15
Catching 29
Route Running 8
Catch in Traffic 14
Spectacular Catch 22
Release 7
Jumping 29
Throw Power 17
Short Accuracy 20
Mid Accuracy 13
Deep Accuracy 3
Throw on Run 15
Play Action 5
Kick Power 20
Kick Accuracy 10
Stamina 69
Injury 75
Toughness 40
Consistency 0
Tuck and Run trait Sometimes
Throw Ball Away trait Yes
Sense Pressure trait Paranoid
Force Pass trait Conservative
Tight Spiral trait No

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.