Last night, as was to be expected, Jon Gruden and the rest of the Monday Night Football gang talked about fun-sized pigment curio Danny Woodhead with the sort of insight and gravitas one finds on the cover of Bop Magazine.
Here's what Gruden said, amid general murmuring and sighing in the broadcast booth:
This guy — this guy represents hope for all of the kids back home that want to play pro football. This guy's 5-foot-7. He comes from a small college. He's 180 pounds. And he's starting for the New England Patriots. Keep lifting weights back home, kids.
Woodhead is actually listed at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, which, yes, is on the small side for a modern running back, but not so small that, in anointing him the Rudy Ruettiger of our day, we should ignore his manifest athletic abilities and the fact that he briefly held the NCAA's all-divisions career rushing record. (Squint and you might see a little bit of Warrick Dunn to his game, though no one, that I can remember, went around calling the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Dunn "the little engine that could.")
There are certainly smaller guys around, in any case. I went through the 146 backs listed here. Twelve are lighter than Woodhead; 14 are shorter, including Kevin Faulk, the guy Woodhead replaced on the depth chart. If Body Mass Index is your thing, there are 30 running backs with a lower BMI than Woodhead (29.53), among them Chris Johnson (26.64), Darren McFadden (26.96), Matt Forte (27.99), Adrian Peterson (28.63), and Brian Westbrook (29.12). Woodhead is a "small," super-fast running back in a league with no great shortage of them. The difference is that little Danny is blessed with sufficient amounts of Vitamin D to get called scrappy over and over in the national media and inspire grown men to talk like cooing nitwits in front of a bunny cage. The real lesson? Stay out of the sun, kids.