Kapolei, Hawaii When you're a long snapper, anonymity is a good thing -- until the Pro Bowl ballots are printed. That's why Brian Jennings believes the best performers in their unique profession deserve more attention.
"We've just got to figure out how to get us on the ballot," said Jennings, the San Francisco 49ers' near-flawless snapper for punts and kicks. "We deserve it. We're the 'need' players on the roster this year, but you would think you would need us every year. I think it's only right that there's a long snapper voted to the Pro Bowl."
Jennings and Kansas City's Kendall Gammon are standouts in a job where nobody wants to stand out, but thanks to coaches Bill Cowher and Jim Mora, they're making their first trips to Hawaii this week. Gammon and Jennings received special Pro Bowl invitations from the coaches, who are allowed to choose one "need" player for any spot on the roster.
Usually, a regular center or a tight end handles the long snaps for the Pro Bowl teams. Jennings and Gammon are the least famous players at the Pro Bowl -- and that's just fine with them.
"You can't be a deep snapper and have an ego," Gammon said. "The only way you get your name in the paper is if you mess up."
But almost nobody can remember the last time either of these two veterans made a snap that was anything less than perfect. Gammon has turned long snapping into an art form, even producing an instructional video on the subject, while Jennings is among the best of the next generation -- but because their position isn't on the all-star ballot, they can't be elected to the Pro Bowl.
Gammon played 13 seasons before getting his first trip to the all-star game -- the second-longest wait in NFL history.
"It's been really nice to see the reaction we've got from other players," Gammon said. "A couple of guys have said to me, 'It's about time you got over here.' It's great to know guys appreciate what you do. If you ask any player, they'll tell you how important a deep snapper can be to a team."