It's true. Brian Jennings possesses super human strength, but only when he's in the long snapping position. If he were to throw you a pass standing up, it would be the most pathetic limp duck you've ever seen. But if Jennings gets down into that position, a position that looks mightily impressive and might break my bones if I ever were to try it, the resulting snap (listen hard when he does it, just above the dull roar of the crowd, you can hear the snap like a thunderclap) has all the force of a knockout left leg head kick from MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop. Not doing it for you? Just insert anything ridiculously powerful right there.
This is all 100% factual information. He's only gotten better, too. There's a reason why Andy Lee is the punter, who receives this snap, and also the holder on field goals and extra point attempts. A lesser man would shatter into a pile of glass and dust receiving a long snap from Brian Jennings at this point in his career. Scientists theorize that if Brian Jennings long snapped a ball and Andy Lee kicked it without doing the drop, that the big bang would effectively be recreated. It's a good thing they're both very responsible. Well.. for the most part. Make the jump for the bulk of my profile.
So how do I gather stats for a long snapper? Well, in high school, he had a fair bit of action at tight end and lettered in football, basketball and track. In college, he played in 32 games as a tight end and a long snapper. He finished with four receptions, one touchdown and nine tackles. I'd imagine there wasn't a single botched snap in his college career.
So these mind blowing stats were enough to make Jennings the 240th overall pick in the 2000 draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, Jennings has been one of the premier long snappers in the NFL. He's widely considered to be, if not the best, one of the best at his position, not just by 49ers fans, but by just about everyone who knows the position exists. In 2004, Jennings made the pro bowl. I'm going to quote his blog as he reflects on the selection.
It turns out, AZ Golf Works was closed so I headed home when I realized the Pro Bowl is this weekend.I was nominated to the 2004 Pro Bowl as the "need player." After the regular season, I received a phone call from Jason Jenkins (49ers PR guy) as I was headed to my class at ASU. I could not believe it because a Long Snapper had not been selected to the Pro Bowl since the 70's. I quickly contacted my family and we all headed to Hawaii. The 2004 Pro Bowl was one of the greatest times of my life during one of the worst times of my life. It truly made me believe that anything is possible.
When I was introduced before the game I laughed because I had not been introduced at a game since my Senior Day at ASU. I was an un-recruited walk on and never started a game in college. In high school I spent most of my time as a menace to society not a star athlete. When I was 17, I was on house arrest for kids....the next thing I know I'm playing in the Pro Bowl. Miracles happen.
Jennings references being a menace to society. He did have a mildly troubled childhood, hanging out with his older brother, getting beat up by him and his friends. It taught him how to get used to taking a beating. Here's another gem from Jennings in reference to getting bullrushed by defensive lineman after snapping the ball, taken from an old article from the Chronicle:
"It honestly surprises me every single time," he says. "All of a sudden some big guy is whaling on me! Where'd he come from? It's a shock to me, like if someone runs up and hits you with a pillow while you're sleeping."
One reason it surprises him so much is how much he focuses on the actual snap. Jennings has said that he gets paid for about "four minutes of work" each year. He also says he likely gets paid per snap he makes in bad weather more than anything, that's why he's here. But I urge you all to seriously watch him on game days. So often does he get the ball snapped (flawlessly, mind you), then turns upfield and is the first person near the player fielding the punt. He's a great all-around player and for once we need to tip our hats to the long snappers!
It's a shame that the most recognition a long snapper will ever get is generally on the one snap that he'll ever botch. Him making the pro bowl was something very cool, how often did he ever get recognition before? But if he botched a snap, every fan in the NFL would know the name of Brian Jennings, and how he needs to get his head right and learn how to snap! Right?
Speaking of that, Jennings isn't much for practice. He perfected his snapping motion and technique in college. As the writer from the Chronicle says "Do you practice brushing your teeth?" Jennings comes out, and does his job--no stretching, no practicing, nothing of that nature. Goes out there, completely confident and ready to snap his ball, is slightly surprised by the beast of a man trying to put him on the ground, and then makes his way downfield to try and make a play. Everything after the snap is extracurricular, he's likely have a paycheck and a spot on the roster regardless.
Jennings is a guy who is very level-headed. He has his unique approach to football, in that, he provides a service, he does it. There's not a whole lot of "taking things for granted". He snaps the ball, and he gets to be a pro football player, that's about it. To go back to that article one last time (which is here):
"You get to run around, smash into guys, it's (bleeping) awesome," Jennings said. "We stay in nice hotels, eat great, we get to fight, laugh, hang out in the locker room. Everything about it kicks ass!" He smiles as he watches exhausted teammates trudge in from the practice field. "Everyone talks about practice. I call it recess."
His perspective on life and football has changes to an extent since the pro bowl. Were it not for being elected to the pro bowl, we may not know the Brian Jennings we know today. He may not even be in the NFL anymore. One last quote, this one from Jennings' blog:
The spring of 2005 was the lowest and most challenging times of my life, as the Pro Bowl happened amid a series of personal tragedies that began on April 22, 2004 and continued through August 20,2005. The first date may sound familiar--the day Pat Tillman was killed. The second date is the day that Thomas Herrion died after one of our preseason games. During this year and a half misfortune hit my life like a freight train. Including a 2-14 season, a pair of family crisises, and the death of a couple more of my friends including Brandon Falkner (March 26, 2005) who was killed while leaving a night club in Scottsdale. The cumulative effects of these events forever changed the direction of my life. Yet some how, some way, I was selected to the Pro Bowl--the one bright spot or ray of hope during some dark days. A little encouragement to keep going and the knowledge that each day could contain a miracle.
In February 2004 I needed some help, today my man William Car needed some help. It took a few minutes out of my day and William made it home safely. When I was named to the Pro Bowl, Coach Mora did not know that I was stuck, floundering, and drifting into depression, but he helped me out when I needed it. I will forever be grateful to the NFL and Coach Mora for taking me to the Pro Bowl that year, and as for Bill, his sincere handshake and thank you was more than I needed.
The man he's referring to, William, is a guy who he helped out that day. At any rate, I know I've jumped around a bit in this look at Brian Jennings but I think I did a good enough job of illustrating some things about this guy. He's child-like in some of his views, and a consummate pro in some of his others. Either way, he's been a great player for us and his years of service to the team aren't going unnoticed, at least to me. Pretty cool guy, I'd like to meet him some day.
And yes, the opening paragraphs were all true. Fear the long snap.