End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Greg Warren
Position: Long Snapper
Experience: 10 Years
Long snapper Greg Warren is one of few players left on the Steelers roster who has multiple championship rings, having been first signed by Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent in 2005, when the organization got ‘one for the thumb’ to tie for the most Super Bowl trophies in league history.
Of course, it’s debatable as to just how much a good long snapper improves your likelihood of winning a championship, but we did see in the Steelers’ next Super Bowl run that not having one can certainly lose you a game.
When Warren went down with a season-ending injury against the Giants in 2008, James Harrison came in to long snap late in a game that the Steelers were winning 14-12. They were punting from near their own end zone, and Harrison sent the ball out of the end zone for a safety, tying the game and initiating a free kick drive that gave the Giants the go-ahead score.
Warren missed the last nine games of that season, plus the playoffs. He missed two games with another season-ending injury the following year, but he hasn’t missed a game in each of his other eight seasons in the league.
Warren is a reliable long snapper, plain and simple, and that is why he is one of the longest-tenured players at his position in the league. That is also why the Steelers already chose to re-sign him weeks ago to a one-year contract in the year in which he will turn 34 years old.
Long snapper is simply one of those positions where you don’t really appreciate the value of a good one until you don’t have one, which is why it’s so curious to hear people every offseason look to replace him with a younger player, which would save all of a few hundred thousand dollars in salary cap space.
The bottom line is that the veteran long snapper will be a member of the Steelers for as long as his body and his brain tell him that he can play, unless his performance suddenly falls off a cliff. He’s not the most aggressive long snapper in terms of covering punts, but his ability to get the ball to the punter or the holder is where his true value is.