When the Indianapolis Colt released legendary quarterback Peyton Manning in March, the move left long snapper Justin Snow as the longest-tenured player on the roster. As the general manager Ryan Grigson continued to blow up and then remake his lineup through the spring and summer, Snow was a rare familiar face that gave fans a link to the Horseshoes' glory days under Manning's watchful eyes. On August 31, though, Snow joined Manning on the list of ex-Colts after the team released him to get to the 53-man roster limit. And so, just days after the 2012 preseason concluded, the longtime Indy rock finds himself looking for work among the league-wide chaos of teams making their final adjustments
This move seems to be as much about money as anything else. Snow, 35, would have made $925,000 with the Colts this season, while his presumptive replacement will haul in just $390,000. That man is Matt Overton, who is 27 and has a resume that features zero regular-season NFL snaps and several seasons spent in knock-off leagues. So, while it can be argued that the team wanted someone younger at long snapper, they got neither a fresh-faced rookie nor an experienced veteran, which could cost them early on.
Long snapper is often an afterthought for most fans, but it really is an important position and requires a very specif skill set. He is the player who must deliver precision scoops backwards through his legs, while hanging upside down from his torso, to the punter or holder waiting far behind the line of scrimmage. The pressure can be intense, because a muffed snap carries with it the likelihood of a recovered fumble and great field position for the opposing team. In other words, the job may look pretty easy, but not just anyone can do it.
For his part, Snow was signed by the Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2000 and appeared in 192 straight games through the end of last season. A full year in 2012 would have seen Snow tie Manning's team record of 208 consecutive starts, and most of us fans just took it for granted that he would hit that mark. A concussion suffered in the finale, though, may have provided the crack for Colts' officials to begin picking at his tenure, and the salary disparity was apparently enough to pull the trigger.
Of course, Snow may have also suffered a bit by association, since the Colts special teams efforts have been widely maligned for years now. The dismal showing of those units, and the team as a whole, in 2011, made just about everyone expendable, and Snow was certainly no exception. Against such a backdrop, it's not too surprising that he's gone, I suppose, but I wonder how much second-guessing there will be if a couple of bobbles cost the Colts a couple of early games.
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.
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