When it comes to football, you might say Cullen Little is in a league of his own.
The Guilford youth was 8 when he first watched his father, Stephen, play in an online fantasy football league in 2010, and thought to himself, "Whoa! What's this?"
At 12, the Calvert School sixth-grader is football-obsessed and a huge fan of the National Football League's TV show, "Red Zone."
He knows even the most obscure NFL statistics and can offer opinions far beyond his years about team strategies and which players strike fear into opponents' hearts. He even calls plays while watching games, his dad said.
Now, Cullen has taken his obsession to a higher level. He co-hosts the Booker Corrigan show Thursdays from 5 to 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Radio 1300 WJZ-AM. He is also a member of five fantasy football leagues, including the Guilford Kids league, which he founded, and the Little League, a pun on his last name. A third league, started by a Calvert School teacher, is run by 20 classmates.
"Cullen knows a whole lot about football," said Stephen, a real estate attorney. "He knows much more about football than I do. He remembers everything"
Cullen, though undersized for sports at 4-foot-9 and less than 75 pounds, plays on the Calvert School football, lacrosse and squash teams, and is ranked 19th in the nation among middle school squash players under 13. He was headed to Connecticut with Calvert School's squash team this weekend to compete in the National Middle School Squash Championships.
Cullen has picked a fine time to come of age as a football analyst, commentator and prognosticator. His home team, the Baltimore Ravens, is in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 against the San Francisco 49ers. As the media hunts high and low for Super Bowl stories, Cullen has been interviewed by media outlets ranging from the New York Times to Time Magazine for Kids.
"We've been riding the Ravens wave," said his mother, Emily Little, a nurse at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
"Yesterday, he did a podcast for NFL.com," his father said.
More than a novelty
Although Cullen is an avowed Ravens fan, the truth is more complicated.
"The truth is, he's a fan of the NFL — every team in the NFL," his dad said.
And Cullen was not shy about telling the show's 40,000 listeners earlier this month that he thought the New England Patriots would beat the Ravens in the American Football League championship game, denying them a trip to the Super Bowl.
One angry fan called in to lambaste Cullen for that comment, then hung up.
Corrigan, 47, of Mays Chapel, said he first heard about Cullen from his ex-wife's fiance, Jim Little, who is Cullen's uncle and told Corrigan, "My nephew's really into sports. He'd be funny to have on your show."
On a pre-arranged call into the show late last fall, Cullen proved to be engaging and knowledgeable.
"He knew his stuff and spoke well," said Corrigan, who asked Cullen to be his co-host, because, "I thought it would be a unique opportunity to set us apart" in the competitive sports talk radio market.
Cullen, who is not paid, proved to be more than a gimmick in his first appearance on the live show.
"He brought zero notes; didn't have a paper, didn't have a laptop," Corrigan said.
Not backing down
Confident but not cocky, the sandy-haired Cullen came with his dad to the CBS studios on Clarkview Road in Bare Hills on Thursday, wearing an Under Armour sweat shirt and Calvert School sweat pants.
"You were wrong," said CBS receptionist Lisa Kittrell teasingly, reminding Cullen of his Ravens-Patriots prediction.
"Yeah, I was," Cullen said sheepishly.
He stopped for a drink at the free soda machine and donned headphones for the hour-long show, which was heavy on commentary and analysis about the Ravens' chances in the Super Bowl. But Cullen still wasn't shy about predicting the Ravens would end up on the wrong side of the final Super Bowl score.
His prediction? 27-24, 49ers.
His reasoning was simply that the Ravens would be overmatched offensively and rely too much on big plays. He believes quarterback Joe Flacco should be traded or cut, because other players are more responsible for the Ravens' success.
And with so many obvious 49ers to worry about, from running back Frank Gore to wide receiver Michael Crabtree to tight end Vernon Davis, his biggest fear was about the lesser known tight end Delanie Walker, who can play fullback, too.
Corrigan defended Cullen and predicted a more lopsided score — San Francisco 42, Baltimore 10.
During a commercial break, Cullen made it clear he had plenty more to say.
"I really want to talk about the 49ers' defense," he said.
Time of his life
Cullen said one of his favorite NFL announcers is Joe Buck ("He knows so much and he's articulate").
But he doesn't necessarily aspire to be an announcer and said he's just as interested in being an offensive or defensive coordinator.
For now, he's having the time of his young life pontificating about the merits of the Pro Bowl, announcer Jon Gruden's hair, and where Flacco fits in the Ravens' future plans.
"This is fun," he said. "I just go where life takes me."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun