It may be the only position on the field that seems like you can only fail. Very underrated and certainly taken for granted. Their names are rarely called even when they do their job flawlessly. I am referring to nobody’s favorite player, the long snapper.
Always an Important Play
These guys play in the trenches. The defensive lineman are literally breathing down their necks. The importance of the position cannot be taken lightly. Game winning field goals, punts from deep in their own end or extra points to tie or win the game. They have to make sure the ball gets in the holders or the punter’s hands on time. And in the perfect spot with a perfect spiral. If they miss by a fraction, the game can be won or lost in, excuse the pun, the snap of your fingers.
On average there are a few field goals, extra points and six or seven punts in each game, per team. A single error and it can change the tone of the game, and many times the result. Yet no one knows who they are. I ask you, can you name a single long snapper in the NFL? My answer is no. And I am guessing that would be most fans answer, regardless of how avid a fan they are. Talk about an under appreciated roster spot.
With the Next Pick in the Draft..
Since 2015 there have been eight, count ’em eight, long snappers drafted. That’s one per year. Comparatively, there have been 18 punters, 20 place-kickers, 118 quarterbacks and 323 linebackers selected in the eight drafts from 2015 to 2022. The Cleveland Browns Charley Hughlett signed the largest contract ever for a long snapper in 2022 and received the largest signing bonus in long snapper history, $865,000. In total a 1.9 million dollar deal. That doesn’t sound too bad. But seeing Matt Ryan get a 46.5 million dollar signing bonus, 100 million guaranteed and a total of a 267 million dollar contract sure brings the perception of long snappers more into focus.
It’s your Job to Lose, not Win
The average career length of the long snapper in the NFL is 6 years. That is twice the average of guys playing in the league. But that doesn’t mean their job is easier. Or that teams aren’t as concerned with the position. The reason is that if you have a guy who can do the job the way it needs to be done, then keep him. But heaven forbid they make a mistake or worse yet, two in a single season. They will most likely be sent packing. Where is the loyalty? The forgiveness? You’ll have to look to other positions for those sentiments. These guys live on the edge with every snap. And most are very good at what they do.
Teams typically only carry one. The teams second string long snapper is usually another position player. The Kansas City Chiefs for instance, have All Pro tight end Travis Kelce as their back up. If the teams long snapper happens to get hurt during the game, all of a sudden their importance is more evident. I am pretty sure no Chiefs fans want to see Kelce – as great an athlete as he is – having to snap the ball for a field goal or extra point when the game is on the line.
Anonymity is Key on Super Bowl Sunday
The long snapper does not want the limelight. Any mention of their name most likely there has been an errant snap. As I mentioned their role on the gridiron is most definitely taken for granted. I hope for their sake that they both go about their business on Super Bowl Sunday with the usual lack of fanfare. The long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles is Rick Lovato. The Kansas City Chiefs employ James Winchester to handle their distant hikes of the pigskin. But you didn’t hear that from me.
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