What might be the best job in the NFL is also a position you may not be familiar with: Long snapper. The long snapper is about as specialized of a position as you get in the league.
This is not the center, but the guy who does the center’s job on punts and field goals. His job is to hike the ball to a very specific spot over an extended distance. The center hikes it to the quarterback, who is anywhere from five yards away to right up against his backside. The long snapper hikes the ball usually 10-15 yards to either the punter, who has to grab it and kick it away immediately, or the holder, who is kneeling on the ground and has to grab it and place it for the kicker. If the ball isn’t in a very specific range, it can throw off the whole process.
There has to be a lot of pressure to launch a ball between your legs and into a tight window. But the rest of the time you’re on the bench, drinking Gatorade, and cheering for your fellow teammates.
Teams averaged from three to six punts per game last year, depending on how good the offense was. And most teams averaged between one and two field goals per game. Meaning that on most game days, you have to go out and do your job five or six times. You hike the ball, block for about three seconds, and then go back over to the bench. Worst case scenario, either there’s a penalty and you have to do it over, or it’s a strange game and your team goes for five field goals.
Now the best parts: The money and the longevity. A good long snapper will be around for years. Teams don’t change them unless the guy isn’t doing the job right. A long snapper makes $465,000 per year on the low end, and that’s for rookies and players with a year or two under their belt. The top end is $1,465,000 which is the salary of Cleveland Browns long snapper Craig Hughlett. As for longevity, John Denny of the Miami Dolphins and Greg Warren of the Pittsburgh Steelers just finished their 12th seasons. Warren is currently a free agent after failing a physical.
If I’d known this 30 years ago, I would’ve spent my summers vacation with a trash can turned sideways and wedged into a lawn chair about 15 yards behind me, and I’d be launching footballs between my legs from sunup to sundown. Accuracy and speed are the key, and if you’re a big enough guy to block an opponent for three seconds…you could have a long and lucrative career in the NFL.
Check out the video below of the Long Snapping Showcase for 2017, hosted by Kohl’s.