Is Giants QB Eli Manning Elite

Right in the middle there instead of just

The sounds and looks of a football computer game like "Madden" are so lifelike that millions of fans on their XBox or PlayStation consoles have the feeling that they are right in the middle of it. Markus Kuhn also used this method to get his dose of NFL .

"" My team has always been the Giants. I've always played with the Giants and their defense line because they have such good players. And Justin Tuck, I practically always controlled him. ”"

It must have been something of an omen. 32 NFL clubs could have signed him in the draft. But the New York Giants wanted him. In this way, the 26-year-old defensive tackle from Weinheim himself became one of the more than a thousand characters who face each other in the tough battle for the egg in the latest edition of "Madden".

Wednesday started the season against the Dallas Cowboys. And Kuhn, the man with the number 78 on his back, realized once again that virtual reality had become real.

"" In the field, Osi Umenyiora was next to me. And then I just said to him shortly before it started: Come on, let's really step on the gas. I remember years ago, I was still playing with you on "Madden". Now I'm standing next to you, and we're about to play. I really said that to him. And he just laughed and said: Okay, Markus . Now we're stepping on the gas. It was a really great moment. ”"

A special moment for fans of American football in his home country. Kuhn is - next to Sebastian Vollmer from the New England Patriots - the only German in the league. The two are even similar. They are big and heavy. And they're mainly there to block and tackle. Kuhn on the defensive line. Vollmer on the offensive, where he has been selling his body for three years.

German NFL professionals were and are a rarity. The first was Horst Mühlmann from Dortmund. After his time as a football goalkeeper at Schalke 04, he went to America in 1968 and developed into a pioneer in the field of kicks in the NFL. Then came Uwe von Schamann from Berlin, also a kicker who was able to reach the season finale - the Super Bowl - twice with the Miami Dolphins in the early 1980s. In between, Constantin Ritzmann from the Black Forest tried it. Then Vollmer. And now Kuhn.

The coaches think highly of him. And that although someone who only discovered the bone-cracking sport at the age of 15 at the Weinheim Longhorns has a lot to learn compared to American professionals. Kuhn's strengths: the sheer strength and the speed of reaction. His greatest weakness: To correctly "read" the developing moves of the opposing line of attack, as it is called in the language of football players. "An interesting, albeit raw aspirant," was the first assessment in the New York leafy forest.

On his way to the elite class of the sport, Kuhn has always compensated for his deficits with a healthy piece of self-confidence. For example, after graduating from high school, he drove past colleges on the American east coast with his father without prior registration and handed in his DVD with scenes from the game. That worked. He received a scholarship from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. It was the stepping stone for the NFL.

Because one thing was clear from the start: He liked the hard sport:

"" This incredible effort. This close cohesion with the team. And this simply being there for one another. Fight together. Sweat. Blossoms. To vomit. It's a brutal sport, but also a very emotional sport. ”"

And one for whom Kuhn has to eat copiously four times a day. There is no other way to maintain his weight of 140 kilograms. These are the minimum for a player in his position, which is filled with real colossi.

"" Yes, you have to eat at least 5000 calories a day. That can be a bit annoying. But if that's the only evil to play here: I think you can overlook that. ”"