How to perfect the art of the long snap

The unfortunate nationally televised deconstruction of Travis Goethel put the long-snapper position in the spotlight -- and has caused some NFL coaches to rethink their teams' situation at that position.

Goethel, a reserve linebacker, made three bad snaps that directly resulted in nine points for the Chargers in an eventual 22-14 San Diego victory. Goethal took over for Pro Bowl long-snapper Jon Condo after Condo suffered a head injury in the second quarter.

Goethel said Monday night that he hadn’t long-snapped in a game since high school and that he practiced some snaps before the game. Tuesday, after seeing how injury to a long-snapper can dramatically change the outcome of a game, the Chicago Bears had their backup snapper work extensively.

I spoke to former NFL long-snapper and current ESPN college football analyst Trevor Matich about long-snapping and how important practicing the art is.

“There is immense pressure to snapping,” Matich said.

Matich doesn’t know anything about Goethel. But in general terms, he said, snappers, even backups, have to have the ability and mental makeup to do the job.

“A starting snapper has hundreds of snaps a week and the backup should do the same,” Matich said. “They need to be prepared and that is the responsibility of the player and his coaches.”

Matich said once snapping mistakes occur, the situation can snowball.

“A bad snap is mental,” Matich said. “Once they happen, you tell yourself not to mess up. What you are doing is programming yourself to mess up.”

Goethel’s bad night put snappers in the spotlight, which is never a good thing, Matich said.

“A perfect snapper is a guy who you never know what his name is,” Matich said.

Unfortunately for Goethel, plenty of people are family with his name.