Some might think that “long snapper” is a fishing term. “Long snapper” could refer to an especially lengthy specimen of a species of fish popular with Australian sports fishermen and fisherwomen that is known for its tastiness and fighting abilities. Snapper are caught at off-shore reefs, in estuaries, in bays or in open water and are characterized by their silver and red scales… and having a rather odd looking bump on their snout. Snapper have an unfortunate likeness to Rugby Union front row forwards and hookers who have broken noses.
Nuthin’ to do with fishin’
Well that would be very interesting and informative if “long snapper” were a fishing term, but it is not. A “long snapper” is an important role in the game of American Football (gridiron).
The “snap”, in American Football, is the process by which the Centre (a bloke about the same size as two of me strapped together) restarts play. The Centre, who, surprisingly enough, stands in the centre of the offensive line of scrimmage, snaps the ball between his legs (by either handing or passing) to the Quarterback waiting behind him. From that point the Quarterback either passes to a receiver, hands-off to a running back or runs with the ball himself to progress the ball. Snapping is not an easy job. It is technically quite complex.
Just don’t fluff a “snap!”
Fluffed snaps can be among the costliest errors that an attacking team can make. Doing a good snap is made even more difficult by the fact that one, two or three tacklers (approximately the size of black rhinos) from the opposition team are trying to smash and trample the Centre to death to spoil the snap and to get to the Quarterback.
That is how the standard snap works. It gets more complex if the team wants to attempt a field goal or punt (kick) the football way down field. In such cases the snapper needs to snap the ball as much as seven or eight meters back. The Quarterback, who is usually positioned only just behind the Centre, does not usually involve himself in such plays. The ball needs to go much further. It needs to go all the way to the punter of field goal ball-setter many meters further back. Such a task is way beyond the technical competence of a regular Centre who is responsible for snapping, at the most, two or three meters.
Bring on the “long snapper”
So, when a team wants to take a punt or have a crack at a field goal, the regular Centre shuffles off the field and on comes the… “long snapper”. The “long snapper” needs to be able to flick the ball with great accuracy into the waiting arms of the punter or field goal ball-setter. As with the regular snap, if this goes wrong, the team are in big trouble! A “long snapper” is a highly specialized and difficult job.