Saturday, April 8, 2017

All-Time Unsung Heroes of the NFL - Chicago Bears Edition: Patrick Mannelly

Every week or so, I will be delving into each team's franchise history to shine the spotlight on a player who never received the recognition he rightfully deserved. All teams have players who come into the organization, work hard day in an day out, do everything that's asked of them, and ride off into the sunset with little to no fanfare. This series, which will also be posted on my site, if you feel so inclined to visit, is meant to give these players their due diligence.

Up next, Da Bears!

Patrick Mannelly: Iron Man Long Snapper

Special teams is the place to go if you're looking for unsung heroes. I'm sure almost every program has a player on special teams they covet just as much as someone on offense or defense. For nearly two decades, Patrick Mannelly was that guy for the Chicago Bears.

From Blue Devil to Bear

Duke University has long been a pipeline for talent to the NBA, but their football program is not nearly as storied. In fact, since 1990 only 14 players have been drafted from Duke to the NFL. Mannelly had an impressive collegiate career in Durham, starting as well as starting his final two seasons on the offensive line. He impressed the Bears' front office enough for them to use their 189th overall selection on him in the 1998 draft. The pick would pay dividends as Mannelly turned out to last longer in a Bears uniform than anyone in the organizations history.

The Model of Consistency

There aren't many avenues through which a long snapper to make their way into the NFL record books. Pat Mannelly made sure to graffiti his name all over the damned thing. I hate articles that just spout off stats, but the following ones are pretty mind-boggling.

As mentioned above, Mannelly spent more time as a Chicago Bear than anyone ever has (or will?). To be exact, he played in 53 more contests than the man behind him, Steve McMichael. For the foreseeable future, his record of 245 games played as a Bear will be pretty untouchable. Along with that, he also topped McMichael's team record for seasons as a Bear when he retired after finishing his sixteenth campaign.

According to the Chicago Tribune only two long snappers in the history of the NFL have appeared in more games. Trey Junkin holds the record with 281 and David Binn played in 256.

During his 16 seasons, the four head coaches he played under didn't really have to worry about play that involved Mannelly. With him snapping the ball, the Bears set NFL records of 920 punt attempts and 180 games without a blocked punt. That's over a decade, in case your math is bad.

One last stat for you, courtesy of the Bear's website Mannelly "played in all 16 games 12 times in his career while pulling the trigger on 2,156-of-2,232 long-snap attempts during that time." That's crazy. And the guy never once in that time botched a snap. GOAT?

Team Captain and Confidant

For the final five seasons of his career, Mannelly was voted as the special teams captain by his teammates and coaches. Bears chairman George H, McCaskey summed up his leadership shortly after the long snapper announced his retirement.

"He was a captain, someone his teammates looked up to and sought guidance, direction and inspiration, and he provided it." McCaskey said.

In his final season, Mannelly was given one of the team's highest honors when he was presented with the Ed Block Courage Award. The award is given annually to the player who exemplifies professionalism and sportsmanship. By that criteria, it's surprising Mannelly doesn't have a trophy case full of the award.

The Final Verdict

The life of a long snapper is an unheralded one. No long snapper has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and unless the voters change their criteria significantly, one may never get in. But if ever one decided to get in, it's Pat Mannelly.

The guy who sported as manly a mullet as you'll ever see was the consummate professional. When you think of a long snapper, Pat Mannelly should come to mind. Hell, he even owns the rights to where he offers training for all future generations of long snappers to come.

He's certainly missed within the Bears organization, and the league lost a class act when he retired.

Chicago Tribune writer David Hugh said it best, "They don't come any classier than Patrick Mannelly."

/u/Apathi The man, the mullet, the legend.

/u/tehohdeedee123 The heart, the soul, and the backbone of third phase excellence.

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Submitted April 08, 2017 at 10:55AM by patrickwritesgood
via reddit

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