IRVING, Texas -- Practice begins and L.P. Ladouceur goes through a series of slides and shuffles in the back of the end zone, one side to the next.
If he needed, he could do this in his sleep. The grass in the end zone is worn out from Ladouceur and the other specialists going over the same spots.
“That’s a grind,” Ladouceur said. “Obviously I’ve been doing this for 12 seasons so honestly it gets routine. But routine is what keeps you going. There’s positives to everything.”
Ladouceur has been doing something like this for more than a decade with the Dallas Cowboys. He joined the Cowboys early in the 2005 season and has been perfect ever since. Perfect. He has had 772 clean snaps on punts, 339 on field goal attempts and 475 on extra points.
He turned 35 in March and is signed through 2017. Only Tony Romo is older on the Cowboys’ roster. Only Jason Witten has played more games on the Cowboys’ current roster.
Ladouceur is up 173 career games. He’s never missed a snap, never missed a game.
While Romo and Witten are asked about how much longer they want to play, Ladouceur is often forgotten because of what he does.
“The time I think about it is in the offseason when you’re not around the guys,” Ladouceur said. “You’re with the family, go on vacation and you just kind of get in that mode. Then you realize after four or five weeks you’re like, ‘I want to go back to work. I kind a like being with the guys, like working out.’ It’s a good unit too. I get along so well with [punter Chris Jones, kicker Dan Bailey and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia]. So for that reason you don’t really think about age. You don’t really think about when retirement will happen. I just think we enjoy the day to day stuff that I don’t think we look that far ahead.”
Long snappers can last and last. Every year the Cowboys bring in a snapper not so much to challenge Ladouceur but to keep his snap-count, so to speak, down in the offseason. This time it's Zach Wood from SMU.
“My offseasons have always been built around flexibility,” said the 6-5, 256-pound Ladouceur. “I do a lot of hot yoga and stuff like that. I just try to stay active, which is the main thing.”
If he is not worried about the perfect snap, he is worried about the perfect house. In 2012, he started Point Claire LLC, a homebuilding company. He built the house he and his wife, Brooke, live in with their two kids. He has added a few more since. They range from 2,700-square feet to 4,500 square feet.
He partnered with Melvin Frysinger, who has built more than 300 homes in Parker County, Texas.
“He designs them, how they them want to look and he communicates that to me,” Frysinger said. “This is how good a team we made: I only met L.P. one or two times when we did his house and we did everything by text. He’d draw a picture on paper and I built it.”
Ladouceur’s parents built the home he grew up in outside Montreal.
“My dad’s really good with his hands, carpentry, trim,” Ladouceur said. “He can put tile down, lay hardwood down. He can do everything, plumbing, electrical, all that stuff. And he’s a teacher. Go figure.”
Ladouceur said he is not as inclined, but he likes to paint most.
“I painted pretty much the whole house we’re in now,” he said. “In the offseason you got to find something.”
Ladouceur sees a similarity between special teams and building a house.
“You’ve got to be on top of it all the time,” Ladouceur said. “You can’t get any slippage. You can’t let things fall through the cracks. You always have to be on top of your game. When you’re building houses you’ve got a lot of people underneath you. You have to make sure they’re getting the job done right. Then for me, obviously what we do [in football] is you pretty much have to be perfect. Perfect snap, perfect kick, perfect punt. So when the house is finished, you want to make sure it’s perfect.
“I have a little OCD, which I think most specialists could tell you they’re all a little bit OCD.”
So true are Ladouceur’s snaps that the laces are almost always facing away from Bailey so Jones does not have to spin the ball. So true are his snaps to Jones that the punter does not have to reach high or low or left or right.
If there is one thing the Cowboys did well in their 4-12 season in 2015 was kick the ball. Ladouceur played a big part in that.
“He’s just a pro,” Bisaccia said. “I admired him before I got here and I admire him even more [since] I’ve been here. He’s a tireless worker. He’s constantly working on his body and his flexibility and his conditioning and understands our system inside and out. He has a great relationship with Dan and Chris. I don’t really believe in security blankets because we all can break a toe in a heartbeat but his personality and the man that he is, the worker that he is, I look forward coming to work with him every day.”