American football is often associated with the age of Roman Gladiators. Football players have always been recognized for their huge physiques and strong bodies. There is absolutely no doubt that American football is not meant for the physically weak, but that does not mean that short men cannot be excellent NFL players. There have been men who have defied the conventional norms of physical requisites in order to play this game, through the sheer power of their will and talent. To name a few, here are three such NFL players who managed to excel in this game despite being much shorter than their teammates and competitors.
#1 - Jack Shapiro - 5 Feet 1 Inches (1.55 m)
Jack Emanuel Shapiro or 'Soupy' was the shortest NFL player in history. He was the first shortest professional player to play for the National Football League in 1929. Shapiro's Army discharge papers said that he was 5 feet ½ inches tall and he weighed 122 pounds or 55 kg. However, he always preferred to say that he was 5 feet 1 inch, as it just sounded better. Shapiro attended New York University and regularly played college football. During the Staten Islands Stapletons game, Shapiro played as the blocking back. His team enjoyed a 34-0 victory against the Minneapolis Red Jackets, thereby, making Jack Shapiro a one-game wonder! He was a part of the team's roster and played in 2 regular game seasons as well as 1 friendly exhibition game.
In 1995, Jack Shapiro was honored with the Norm Van Brocklin Award for Outstanding Achievement from the NFL Alumni. In 1999, he was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records, for being the shortest NFL player ever to have played professional football. In a game dominated by big burly men, he was an obvious exception and is considered among the famous NFL players of all time. Though, for Shapiro it was about achieving what his heart set out for. He didn't have much growing up, his father and his two brothers made a total of about $9.00 a week and the family had to manage with that much. His father severely detested Jack playing high school football as his other two older sons had fractured their legs while playing the game. Nonetheless, Jack went ahead with his dream and proved all those who doubted him wrong.
#2 - Trindon Holliday - 5 Feet 5 Inches (1.65 m)
Trindon Holliday (born on April 27, 1986) is currently the shortest player in NFL. He is 5 feet 5 inches tall and began playing in 2010 for the Houston Texas as their wide receiver. He is also ranked among the fastest top 100 meter times list by NFL players. In 2005, he posted the nation's fastest indoor time in a record 55 and 60 meter dash. He reached the 100 meter semi-finals in the 2008 United Stated Olympic Trials. He currently plays as the return specialist and wide receiver for the New York Giants.
#3 - Darren Sproles - 5 Feet 6 Inches (1.68 m)
Also fondly called the 'Lightening Bug', Darren Sproles is currently the second shortest player in the NFL and is 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) tall. He was born on June 20, 1983 and weighs 86 kg. He played for the San Diego Chargers as a running back and is currently the running back and return specialist for Philadelphia Eagles. He was inducted into the NFL draft in 2005 and named as the 'Kick Returner' for his team. In 2007 Sproles made history during the Chargers 23-21 win over Indianapolis Colts game, by becoming the second player ever to have returned a kickoff as well as a punt while doing two touchdowns in the same game. This feat was achieved by Dante Hall in 2003. In the same year, Sproles completed his 100+ yard run.
In September 2008, Sproles made history again against the Denver Broncos Team, by becoming the second player ever in NFL history to have completed 50 rushing yards, the same number of receiving yards, and 100 return yards in one single game. The first player to do so was Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears in 1966 and 1969. During this game Sproles logged 317 all-purpose yards and a 103 yard touchdown. In January 2009, Darren Sproles etched his name in American history once again by becoming the third ever player to log 328 all purpose yards. In February 2009, Sproles signed his franchise with the Chargers for $6.621 million. Thereafter, he played for New Orleans Saints (2011-2013).
These men are proof of the fact that if you try hard enough and give your best, you can and will achieve what you set out for.