Of all the little things that are taken for granted in the game of football, long snapping may take the cake. No special teams unit succeeds without a successful long snapper and Bears great Patrick Mannelly is one of the all-time greats in that regard.
Patrick Mannelly has once said in an interview with Windy City Gridiron that he believes he has played with eight Hall-of-Famers throughout his career. That number is one too low, however. He sold himself short.
If there was a long snapper Hall Of Fame, Patrick Mannelly would have his statue outside the door right next to Trey Junkin’s. However, that wouldn’t be enough. Patrick Mannelly should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It’s an interesting question to ponder: How good would a long snapper have to be to be in the Hall of Fame? Should long snappers be in the Hall of Fame? To me, the answers to those questions are fairly obvious. A long snapper should be held to the same criteria as a quarterback when it comes to the Hall of Fame. If you are one of the best at your specific position ever, you should be in the Hall of Fame for doing that.
That is the only conceivable argument against Mannelly, somehow believing that long snappers aren’t football players. Bears fans should have a first-hand account into just how valuable long snappers are after seemingly the entire fanbase was calling for John Fox’s head for testing his new one in the last preseason game this year.
Only one true long snapper in the history of the game has played more games than Patrick Mannelly, former Charger David Binn. The only other player who handled long snapping (not solely) with more games played is the aforementioned Trey Junkin. Neither one of them played for one team throughout their entire careers like Mannelly did.
The Bears front office obviously saw something with Mannelly, the 6’5″ lineman from Duke, when they selected him in the 6th round of the 1998 draft solely as a long snapper. And boy, were they right.
Mannelly anchored down one of the league’s best kicking teams throughout the majority of the 2000’s. Per PFF, Kicker Robbie Gould converted on 86% of his field goals with Mannelly snapping him the ball, as opposed to 75% the first year without him. Gould shared his appreciation for Mannelly in his 2006 pro-bowl acceptance speech, calling him one of the league’s “unsung heroes” and stating that he wouldn’t have made the game without Mannelly.
Mannelly had the ultimate respect of his teammates, being named a team captain seven times throughout his career, including for Super Bowl XLI along with Olin Kreutz, Brian Urlacher, and Muhsin Muhammad.
It’s amazing to me that Bears fans don’t appreciate this guy more. Mannelly has blown by the record for most games played in a Bears uniform (245) and most seasons in a Bears uniform (16). Only 11 players in NFL history have played more games for a single team than Mannelly has for the Chicago Bears.
Bears records state that, throughout Mannelly’s 16-year career in the Windy City, Mannelly had 2,282 snaps, none of which were botched. Mannelly, however, does claim he did have one bad snap in his career, one which led to the missed field goal in a 2002 game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Even with that one missed snap, Mannelly’s conversion rate for snaps was a whopping 99.956%, throughout a 16-career. Don’t forget he also did this playing in a city known for brutal weather conditions on a field notorious for just how bad the playing conditions are.
The reality of the situation is, however, that special teamers never get the recognition they deserve. There are currently only three special teamers in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame: Ray Guy, Morten Andersen, and Jan Stenerud. It’s despicable that the hall of fame voters constantly reject the third phase of the game like that.
So, let’s leave them no choice but to at least consider one of the greatest long snappers of all time for the ballot. The Hall Of Fame allows any fan to nominate any player, coach, or contributor for the induction, simply by emailing or mailing a letter to Canton. The only problem with this, however, is that Mannelly is still one year away from eligibility.
So, to combat this, I am doing the due diligence of Bears fans around the world and getting legendary Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly on the 2019 list of nominees. I have emailed the Hall Of Fame requesting Mannelly’s presence on the shortlist of nominees next year.
Like Patrick said, he has played with eight teammates he believes are Hall-of-Famers. So, let’s hope all nine of them are donning gold jackets soon.