Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo
Extremeskins

Homer: Nick Sundberg loves life as a long snapper (w/ inflatable helmets, getting tasered and Toy Story shower curtains)


themurf

Recommended Posts

sundberg121311.jpg

(photo by Brian Murphy)

[Editor's note: Today's guest post is brought to you by noleafclover, the man behind the pop-culture site HoboTrashcan who also happens to be my brother. Please show him some love so I might be able to convince him to do this again sometime down the road.]

Before the Washington Redskins took on the New England Patriots this past Sunday, long snapper Nick Sundberg rushed out of the entrance tunnel, through the giant inflatable Redskins helmet and out onto the field. No one announced Sundberg’s name over the PA as he took the field. There was no music or pyrotechnics or theatrics of any kind. In fact, hardly anyone in attendance noticed. But that didn’t stop Sundberg from running out of the gate in a crisscross pattern with his arms fully extended out to his sides, enthusiastically mimicking an airplane as he made his grand entrance.

No one becomes a long snapper in the NFL for the glory. And most long snappers are content to sidestep the inflatable helmets and quietly make their entrances onto the field each week. But Nick Sundberg isn’t like most long snappers.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” Sundberg said. “Never got to do it in college because kickers, punters, snappers, we always go out early. In the NFL, it’s the same way — we always run around it. I always thought that was kind of weird. The whole team runs through it except for us. We run around it.”

So Sundberg said that one day he was making his way out to the field with kicker Graham Gano and punter Sav Rocca and he decided to just go for it. He tried to get the other two special teams players to go with him, but they wouldn’t do it.

“You know how kickers are with their stupid routines,” he said.

But Sundberg went for it and he had a blast.

“It was like the best time ever. It really gave me a lot of joy,” Sundberg explained.

From that week on, he makes the most out of his entrance at every home game. He eventually convinced Gano to go through the tunnel with him before the game against the New York Jets, but 38-year-old Rocca has steadfastly refused. Sundberg is hoping to convince the punter to join him in his pregame entrance soon, before it’s too late.

“He’s not going to be able to run very much longer in his old age,” joked Sundberg.

However, convincing the punter to participate appears to be an uphill battle. When asked what the chances are he’d ever make a grand entrance alongside his long snapper, Rocca said it’s “never going to happen.”

While Sundberg likes to have fun off the field, it has taken a lot of hard worked and dedication for him to make it to the NFL. Growing up in Phoenix, Ariz., Sundberg spent a lot of time outside — camping, fishing and exploring the vast land. He also played everything he could, from soccer to basketball to hockey. His mom was adamant that he try his hand at every sport. Every sport except football, that is.

“My mom didn’t actually want me to play football because she thought it was too dangerous,” Sundberg said. “So she held me out of it as long as she could.”

But the summer before he started high school, a letter arrived from the North Canyon High School football team inviting incoming freshmen out to a summer workout. Being bigger than the other kids and having an athletic background, North Canyon’s coach wanted Sundberg to start as the team’s varsity left tackle his freshman year. Reluctantly, his mom let him go out for the team.

Eventually, he was moved to center. Then, a new offensive line coach came to the team after his sophomore year and convinced Sundberg to become the team’s long snapper. Long snapping was a passion of his new coach, Ben Bernard, and Sundberg soon found himself lifting weights four days a week and snapping the ball five days a week, 150 to 200 balls a day. He says by the end of his senior year, he was good, but not great.

The following summer, he attended a kicking and snapping camp in Las Vegas, Nev., where he impressed the scouts for the University of California, Berkeley, who were looking for a new long snapper after their starter tore his ACL. Sundberg was able to leverage interest from other teams into a full scholarship to Cal.

Making the transition to long snapper was the best thing that could have happened to Sundberg in his mother’s eyes. After having her initial reservations about him playing football, having her son end up a long snapper is great.

“From a mother’s point of view it’s a perfect position,” Stacie Sundberg said in an interview with Redskins.com earlier this year. “They’re only in the game — if it’s a high scoring game — maybe twelve to fifteen times. It’s great to come out and see him play and know that he gets to participate at this level and can have longevity at a position that’s not gonna beat him up too quickly.”

In 2009, Sundberg was signed by the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent. However, he didn’t end up making the team. It was a low point for the long snapper and he had to figure out if he wanted to continue pursuing a NFL career.

“Up until that point, I had never been told, ‘Hey, you’re not the guy,’” Sundberg said.

The rejection was difficult for him to handle. He ended up having lengthy discussions with his mom and Ben Bernard to get his head right. But it took a stint playing for the UFL and even a winter spent working a Christmas tree lot to make extra cash before Sundberg was eventually signed to the Baltimore Ravens practice squad.

“Once I got to Baltimore and I got to see what the NFL was really like for a game, even though I was only on the practice squad, it was a lot of fun,” said Sundberg. “And it really taught me a lot about the game, the business, how things works. Being able to watch everything from the sideline before I ever played was very beneficial.”

But even after making it to the big leagues, he hasn’t forgotten his stint as a Christmas tree salesman.

Click here for the full article.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is one of my favorite things I've ever written. I really hope you guys enjoy it. The guy is just fascinating to talk to. He's got a ton of charisma and a very quirky personality.

You did an excellent job, good sir. Thanks for sharing your writing skills with the ES family.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is one of my favorite things I've ever written. I really hope you guys enjoy it. The guy is just fascinating to talk to. He's got a ton of charisma and a very quirky personality.

Nice job NLC, please don't let this be the last time you write for us here. These are the types of reads why I LOVE coming on ES daily, great background piece, loved it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice job NLC, please don't let this be the last time you write for us here. These are the types of reads why I LOVE coming on ES daily, great background piece, loved it.

I definitely hope to do more pieces like this if the opportunities present themselves.

I can't promise they will all be as interesting as Sundberg though. But I'll do my best.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great work.

Now let's interview Rocca and talk him into running out with the team.

I talked to Rocca in the locker room after the Patriots game. That's where I got the "never going to happen" quote from. He's pretty adamant that he won't ever run out of the tunnel.

Frankly, I'm surprised Sundberg got Gano to do it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I talked to Rocca in the locker room after the Patriots game. That's where I got the "never going to happen" quote from. He's pretty adamant that he won't ever run out of the tunnel.

Frankly, I'm surprised Sundberg got Gano to do it.

The question now becomes: will Nick Sundberg continue his shenanigans when he takes the field this weekend in New York or does he only do wacky stuff for home games?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The question now becomes: will Nick Sundberg continue his shenanigans when he takes the field this weekend in New York or does he only do wacky stuff for home games?

So far, he has only done stuff for home games.

So unless you think the PR from this article is going to go to his head and convince him to be even more ridiculous, I think he won't do anything.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...