You see him every time the Seahawks score a point. He’s there every time Jon Ryan drops a dime in the coffin corner, yet he’s never scored and never has his named called, unless something bad happens.
He’s Clint Gresham, the Seahawks long-snapper: An ultra-specialist on a team of special athletes.
Every time Steven Hauschka lines up for a kick or Jon Ryan looks to pin the opponent deep, they are staring at Clint Gresham’s backside and expecting a perfect delivery.
This deeply religious 27-year-old Texan likes to joke about his unique skill.
“Well you just close your eyes and hope it goes in the right spot,” he told me. “No! I’m kidding, I’m kidding. There’s way more to it than that.”
But throwing a perfect, tight spiral with the velocity of an All-Pro quarterback while bent over with your head between your legs is not something just anyone can do. It has to get seven yards on a field goal and 14 yards on a punt in fractions of a second.
It’s such a unique skill that it put Gresham through college at TCU and now he’s four years into an NFL career.
He says he first tried long-snapping in high school, when his dad, who is a former University of Texas football player, asked the coaches in Austin about it.
“He was asking them, ‘What’s a way for Clint to beef up his resume?’ And so we ordered this tape and I sort of taught myself how to snap in the backyard. I was pretty good at it and times were just as fast as any of the guys in the NFL when I was in high school. So I kind of figured I would have a chance at some point. I thought I would at least play college football with it.”
When he thinks back at the money he spent on that tape, “That VHS tape was the best investment I ever made.”
And being a long-snapper comes with some other perks. He doesn’t have to be too big. At 6’4″, 240, he’s large but not NFL large, and he really doesn’t get hit all that much either, now that the league has changed the rules to protect snappers.
“They can’t touch the snapper now, I mean, I’m literally not touched at all on field goal or PAT, which is awesome, because the first couple years, which is exactly what I would do. Man, if I was a special teams coach I would hit the snapper every single time, but they can’t do that now,” says Gresham.
He does get some work with the linebackers at practice, but he spends most of his time with the kickers. And as we’ve heard, kickers can be kind of quirky. Gresham has picked that up too: He cuts his fingernails.
It’s just something he started doing each gameday:
“We’ve played games on Thursday nights and they’re not really long enough to get cut,” says Gresham. “It’s very uncomfortable. I do that. And I always get in the hot tub and those are the two things I do every time. But the fingernail thing, that’s kind of a weird thing.”
As long as he’s on the money from between his legs, he can do what he wants.