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Old 10-01-2019, 11:29 PM
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Most thankless position in team sports?


Top candidates to me:

Offensive Guard, American Football
Not only rarely touches the ball, the rules expressly dictate that these players are in most cases not allowed to touch the ball. Their role is basically to block oncoming hordes of defenders, and maybe one of the least glorified yet physical positions in American sports. Similar to tackles, except a left tackle is considered one of the most important positions because they protect the quarterbacks blindside. Guards are fairly or not considered the bastard brothers of tackles. Only plus side: very talented linemen tend to have a lot of longevity in the NFL.

Ice Hockey Goalie
Unlike goalies in soccer and lacrosse, the goalie is usually confined to the crease outside the net, with the exception of times when they stray away from there to sweep the puck in the corners. Unlike soccer goalies, after making a save, hockey goalies don't get to slap the puck down the ice, let alone blast a goal kick halfway across the field; if not a whistle as they lay down on a puck, at best they get to make a weak pass to one of the defensemen who get the glory of carrying the puck up the ice. Adding even more is the danger of deflecting 130mph slap shots, the public shame of a mid-game benching, and the general perception by your teammates that you are a weirdo.

Designated hitter, baseball
OK an easy job----3 to 4 times a game, you get up off your ass and bat. But since you dont have a field position, other than those 15-20 minutes dodging 90+ mph fastballs buzzing inches from your body, theres really nothing else to do except hang out in the dugout. On top of that generally, the DH is looked down upon because of the sometimes unfair perception the DH cant field. Kids grow up dreaming of being a outfielder, shortstop, etc . . . . but who grows up saying "I want to be a DH for the Yankees!"?????

What am I missing? Anything in Rugby, Cricket, Aussie Football, Lacrosse, Water Polo etc etc? What is the most thankless position in team sports?
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Old 10-01-2019, 11:39 PM
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I can’t agree at all that the ice hockey goalie is thankless. Goalies can carry a team on their back. Thousands of books have been written about the greatest goalies.

The only thankless position in ice hockey is the defensive defenseman. Hockey fans will understand what he’s doing, but the average person in the crowd won’t.
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by dalej42 View Post
I canít agree at all that the ice hockey goalie is thankless. Goalies can carry a team on their back. Thousands of books have been written about the greatest goalies.

The only thankless position in ice hockey is the defensive defenseman. Hockey fans will understand what heís doing, but the average person in the crowd wonít.
If a defensive defenseman does their job, there is no mention by anybody. If they screw up, everybody knows.
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:41 AM
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I would say middle relief in baseball - people only notice when you screw up; if nothing goes wrong nobody pays any attention.
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:44 AM
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In football: long snapper. The only time you are *ever* noticed by the fans is when you screw up.

On the other hand, like the example of offensive guards, if you're good at your job, you can have a very long career.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:14 AM
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In football: long snapper. The only time you are *ever* noticed by the fans is when you screw up.

On the other hand, like the example of offensive guards, if you're good at your job, you can have a very long career.
Long snapper was going to be my suggestion too. Generally you never even know their name but youíll see them almost every game, and those games won by a field goal couldnít have been won if that long snapper blew it. Itís the definition of an unsung sports hero.

Guards on the other hand arenít ignored, heck the performance and health of them are a big deal on every team. Getting a good guard is a huge deal and they can be the star of a play. Iíve seen highlight reels of good guard play before. I can tell you who the guards are on my team (Iupati who replaced Sweezy in the offseason and Fluker) and even their backup (Pocic). Steve Hutchinson was a guard and is a legend around here, even though he hasnít played here for 15 years. They arenít at all unappreciated, theyíre a huge deal.

I donít know or care who the long snapper is. Sorry Bob or John or Fred or whatever your name is, thanks for not screwing up too much.
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Old 10-02-2019, 06:19 AM
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Long snapper was going to be my suggestion too. Generally you never even know their name but youíll see them almost every game, and those games won by a field goal couldnít have been won if that long snapper blew it. Itís the definition of an unsung sports hero.

Guards on the other hand arenít ignored, heck the performance and health of them are a big deal on every team. Getting a good guard is a huge deal and they can be the star of a play. Iíve seen highlight reels of good guard play before. I can tell you who the guards are on my team (Iupati who replaced Sweezy in the offseason and Fluker) and even their backup (Pocic). Steve Hutchinson was a guard and is a legend around here, even though he hasnít played here for 15 years. They arenít at all unappreciated, theyíre a huge deal.

I donít know or care who the long snapper is. Sorry Bob or John or Fred or whatever your name is, thanks for not screwing up too much.
Iíve watched every pathetic minute of every Washington Redskins game this season and I could not tell you who the long snapper is. The offensive line I could recite like a student who had just crammed for an exam, thankfully one of the Redskins groups Iím part of has more sophisticated fans so we get more chat than just Ďfire Grudení or Ďstart Haskinsí
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:22 AM
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Ok, what the hell is a long snapper?
WK in cricket is one, people only remeber the drops, the missed stumping, the bad byes, no one remebers the dozens of clean takes, receptions of bad throws preventing overthrows, the good batting.

Basically any position in any sport where a player is expected to be perfect at all times and any failure is all what is noted.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by dalej42 View Post
I can’t agree at all that the ice hockey goalie is thankless. Goalies can carry a team on their back. Thousands of books have been written about the greatest goalies.

The only thankless position in ice hockey is the defensive defenseman. Hockey fans will understand what he’s doing, but the average person in the crowd won’t.

russian heel
, have ever watched a hockey game? At the end, the players huddle around the goalie EVERY GAME to thank him after every game, WIN or LOSE. They also thank him multiple times during a game when he has to make a save to cover their mistakes.
I've played and coached hockey a long time, some kids WANT to be goalie for this reason alone.

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Originally Posted by dogbutler View Post
If a defensive defenseman does their job, there is no mention by anybody. If they screw up, everybody knows.
You do realize you just reinforced dalej42's point, right?

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Originally Posted by Tom Scud View Post
I would say middle relief in baseball - people only notice when you screw up; if nothing goes wrong nobody pays any attention.
Agreed.

For American football, most of the special team guys are pretty thankless, especially kick-off or punt coverage. Often, they don't even have to make a tackle, because of touchbacks, fair catches, out of bounds, etc.. When they do make a tackle, their name is barely mentioned and the game just goes on.

Last edited by Sparky812; 10-02-2019 at 07:30 AM.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:35 AM
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Ok, what the hell is a long snapper?....
Probably the position in American Football that is the most specialized. Their unique skill is to be able to fling the ball between their legs to the punter or field goal holder. They are protected from being hit, so are expected to be perfect for the dozen or so snaps they have per game. It doesnít help their case that even a blind guy can do it: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BRttFSTDtJQ
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:41 AM
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....It doesnít help their case that even a blind guy can do it....
After I wrote this comment in the context of this thread, I realized that folks might take it as being insensitive. In reality, it was quite the inspirational moment, and I was literally in tears while watching it when it happened.
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Old 10-02-2019, 08:12 AM
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Australian Rules
Back pocket or mid field tagger.
Get to play against the oppositionís best with the aim to shut them down and just about everyone loves the game more when you fail.

Cricket
2nd change seamer, bat #8. Not good enough to bowl when conditions are most helpful. Aim to keep the opposition restricted until the starters come back or the new ball is due. Is usually expected to bat, often just not get out with more expectation than their ability.

(Field) Hockey
Left wing. Rules and structure of the game make it hard to have an influence on play, often played as a defensive forward while their opponent (right halfback) plays as an attacker.
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Old 10-02-2019, 08:19 AM
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Designated hitter, baseball
Can't agree with this one. You're not a DH (at least not for the Yankees) if you aren't a good hitter. If you're a good hitter, you get hits (and home runs and RBIs), and those are definitely noticed and appreciated.

Most thankless position in baseball is backup catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.
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Old 10-02-2019, 09:32 AM
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Ice Hockey Goalie
Completely wrong. The Goalie is the most important player on the ice. They are the only one who plays the entire game, and other players will protect them at all costs if an opposing player tries messing with them. Plus, they wear the coolest masks.

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Originally Posted by russian heel View Post
Designated hitter, baseball
Yes, David Ortiz was barely noticed by fans or teammates.

My suggestions:
3rd leg on any 4 person relay team, Track, swimming, XC skiing
You're just there to hand it over to the anchor person

Backup Center, Basketball
You're only in there to give the person who can score a rest, and to absorb or give fouls.
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Old 10-02-2019, 09:40 AM
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In baseball, the answer is the catcher. He does far more for the team than the average fan is ever aware of.
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post
Probably the position in American Football that is the most specialized. Their unique skill is to be able to fling the ball between their legs to the punter or field goal holder. They are protected from being hit, so are expected to be perfect for the dozen or so snaps they have per game. It doesnít help their case that even a blind guy can do it: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BRttFSTDtJQ
And, it's only relatively recently (i.e., in the past 20-30 years) that it's become a specific, specialized position. The role (snapping the ball for punts and placekicks) has always been there, but in the past, it was usually done either by one of the team's centers, or a player of another position who happened to be good at doing long snaps.

Here's a video from a few years ago, with Zak DeOssie, the Giants' long snapper, describing the process.
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:11 AM
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Can't agree with this one. You're not a DH (at least not for the Yankees) if you aren't a good hitter. If you're a good hitter, you get hits (and home runs and RBIs), and those are definitely noticed and appreciated.

Most thankless position in baseball is backup catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.
I mostly agree with you. Edgar Martinez was a DH for the Mariners and I used to pull in off the freeway to work on Edgar Martinez Drive.

But at the same time, it took him forever to get a Hall of Fame nod because he was a DH and thereís a feeling that their contributions are limited. On the other hand, he did eventually get in.
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:19 AM
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Goalie is not a thankless position. Goalies is the most important player on team, or second most if they have a really good center.

Good Designated Hitters are appreciated, we don't hold them responsible for the abomination of a rule that created their position.

Guards in football really don't get the credit they deserve. When they do their job there's no reason to look at them at all, they only get noticed when a defender gets past them.

Long Snapper was mentioned and many people don't even know the position exists.
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:28 AM
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Long Snapper was mentioned and many people don't even know the position exists.
Fun trivia: in the 100 year history of the Chicago Bears, the man who has played the most games as a Bear is Patrick Mannelly, their long snapper from 1998 to 2013.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:22 PM
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Can't agree with this one. You're not a DH (at least not for the Yankees) if you aren't a good hitter. If you're a good hitter, you get hits (and home runs and RBIs), and those are definitely noticed and appreciated.

Most thankless position in baseball is backup catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Thats not completely true about DH

Every year about 7-8 teams will have an OPS+ below 100 in the DH position. Overall yes the position will be above league average. But a lot of teams still use the spot to rotate players through.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:23 PM
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I mostly agree with you. Edgar Martinez was a DH for the Mariners and I used to pull in off the freeway to work on Edgar Martinez Drive.

But at the same time, it took him forever to get a Hall of Fame nod because he was a DH and thereís a feeling that their contributions are limited. On the other hand, he did eventually get in.
That was so stupid it took so long. I railed for years "DH is an actual position. Closer isn't."
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:57 PM
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In American football, being on the special teams squad is at the bottom of the ladder. You don't play that often, and in most of the plays nothing interesting happens (especially with recent rule changes). When there is a return of a kick or punt, there are often injuries, because the teams start out far apart and run full speed toward each other.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:59 PM
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Fun trivia: in the 100 year history of the Chicago Bears, the man who has played the most games as a Bear is Patrick Mannelly, their long snapper from 1998 to 2013.
Mannelly was awesome and he was beloved for his mullet, longevity, and personality; he is the exception to the rule in the case of long snappers, I think. I can't remember who the long snapper is now (uh, some big guy with a beard) and I couldn't tell you who did it before the Mann.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:09 PM
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In American football, being on the special teams squad is at the bottom of the ladder. You don't play that often, and in most of the plays nothing interesting happens (especially with recent rule changes). When there is a return of a kick or punt, there are often injuries, because the teams start out far apart and run full speed toward each other.
That's true, especially if you're on the return team, but not the returner. You pretty much only get noticed when the return gets called back because you committed a hold.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:14 PM
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Guards on the other hand arenít ignored, heck the performance and health of them are a big deal on every team. Getting a good guard is a huge deal and they can be the star of a play. Iíve seen highlight reels of good guard play before. I can tell you who the guards are on my team (Iupati who replaced Sweezy in the offseason and Fluker) and even their backup (Pocic). Steve Hutchinson was a guard and is a legend around here, even though he hasnít played here for 15 years. They arenít at all unappreciated, theyíre a huge deal.
In general, offensive line positions are more fungible than you might think- it's not uncommon in college or the pros for guys to shift around when needed.

Guards aren't underappreciated; they are theoretically more mobile than your centers and tackles, and get to pull (pull back and run out to the side) to block on wide run plays. They're also usually involved with counter and trap plays pretty heavily.

Centers generally are the QB of the offensive line since they have the best visibility; they call/adjust the blocking schemes depending on how the defense lines up. So maybe not too visible, but supremely important.

My dream pro football job would be as a long-snapper for a good team; not many downs played, not many chances for injury (more FG/XP than punts), a long career, and league minimum salary (starts at $495 and goes up every year you play, to as much as 1.03 million with 10+ years experience.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:50 PM
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The cricket suggestions for WK and 1st change seam bowler are good, but I'm going to offer up Nightwatchman - a lower-order (ie, worse batter) player sent in late in a days play to prevent an actual batsman from getting out. Almost a no-win situation, Jack Leach's Ashes heroics nonwithstanding, you have to face deliveries that ordinarily you'd be protected from, and if you do manage to survive you're not expected to last long in the morning.
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Old 10-02-2019, 03:37 PM
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...
I donít know or care who the long snapper is. Sorry Bob or John or Fred or whatever your name is, thanks for not screwing up too much.
The 49ers this season are on their FOURTH long snapper, and having only played three games so far. The first is still serving part of a 10-game suspension for performing enhancing drug violation (which is mind-numbing already), the second played two games then released for not being good enough (I guess), the third was a longtime veteran signed off the street who played one game then retired. The fourth is another longtime vet signed off the street that will play the next three games until the suspension is over.

And to the point of this thread, nobody really noticed.

(I kinda pay attention to who our long-snapper is out of nostalgia for Brian Jennings, the 49ers long snapper for about a ten year stretch a few years ago. He was a character, eventually turning into our mascot.)
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Old 10-02-2019, 04:23 PM
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Here's a video from a few years ago, with Zak DeOssie, the Giants' long snapper, describing the process.
Zak's rookie year was 2007; He and Eli Manning are the only two players still on the roster from either of the Giants' Superbowl wins (2007 & 2011) and both were there for both. The only difference is that Zak is still a "starter."

Dan Dierdorf always used to say that if your son wants to play in the NFL, long snapper has the best job security by far.

Zak's father, Steve DeOssie, also won a Superbowl with the Giants in 1990, making them the only father-son duo to win Superbowls with the same team.
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Old 10-02-2019, 04:56 PM
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In football the offensive linemen are pretty much nameless. If they do their jobs correctly they never get the glory. Protect the QB so he can get off a pass then the QB/receiver are the heroes. Open a hole for the running back and the running back is the hero. You can have the best offensive linemen in the league but if the QB/receivers/RBs can't get their jobs done then everyone will say how awful the offense is.
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Old 10-02-2019, 05:28 PM
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I’ll admit I do know one long snapper, Jon Dorenbos, who was a long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and has an honorary Super Bowl ring (he couldn’t play the year the Eagles won due to a heart condition, which is also why he retired).

But I only know him because he’s a stage magician who appeared on America’s Got Talent, and was good enough to come in 3rd in the finals. He also appeared for AGT’s first “Champions” special and made it to the finale again though not making it in the top 5.

So yeah, I know one guy but because he did something else that made him famous.
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Old 10-02-2019, 05:32 PM
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A not-so-thankless, but still relatively thankless position in football might be defensive nose tackle. Your job is to be a big body to stuff the run and occupy as much attention from the offensive linemen as you can. But the defensive glory usually goes to pass rushers or DBs.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:24 PM
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russian heel
, have ever watched a hockey game? At the end, the players huddle around the goalie EVERY GAME to thank him after every game, WIN or LOSE. They also thank him multiple times during a game when he has to make a save to cover their mistakes.
I've played and coached hockey a long time, some kids WANT to be goalie for this reason alone.



You do realize you just reinforced dalej42's point, right?



Agreed.

For American football, most of the special team guys are pretty thankless, especially kick-off or punt coverage. Often, they don't even have to make a tackle, because of touchbacks, fair catches, out of bounds, etc.. When they do make a tackle, their name is barely mentioned and the game just goes on.

Yes I have watched a hockey game and never said it was not an important position.


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Old 10-02-2019, 08:10 PM
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Coxswain?
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Old 10-05-2019, 11:17 PM
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In American football, I think the whole punt team, especially the punter, are underappreciated, because theyíre associated with failure; theyíre only on the field because the offense hasnít doesnít its job.

Itís just my impression, but it seems to me that football commentators and fans are more aware of the importance of the offensive line than in years past; I hear the guys on the sports-talk stations talking about the OL almost as much as the running backs or secondary. When I first started following football in the 80s, the only offensive lineman whose name I knew was Mike Webster.
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Old 10-06-2019, 12:50 AM
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In American football, I think the whole punt team, especially the punter, are underappreciated, because they’re associated with failure; they’re only on the field because the offense hasn’t doesn’t its job.
I don’t think that’s the case. A good punter is very appreciated; if you can pin the other team behind the 5 yard line you’re a hero. Fans don’t hold the punting against the punter; he’s not the guy that failed to convert the first down. Not to mention the punters that engage in trick plays, which isn’t common but isn’t rare either.

Michael “Big Balls” Dickson is a rock star in Seattle, he was a Pro Bowler last year as a rookie and is talked about a lot and featured often in the media. Johnny Hekker is a big deal for the Rams. Punters are well-known and the good ones are celebrated.

Last edited by Atamasama; 10-06-2019 at 12:50 AM.
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Old 10-06-2019, 07:55 AM
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Any position on the 'Special Teams' besides Return men. Miss a kick and your job is on the line, miss a tackle and its replayed endlessly, bad punt...get booed out of the stadium but very few cheers when they get it done.
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Old 10-07-2019, 07:13 AM
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I donít think thatís the case. A good punter is very appreciated; if you can pin the other team behind the 5 yard line youíre a hero. Fans donít hold the punting against the punter; heís not the guy that failed to convert the first down. Not to mention the punters that engage in trick plays, which isnít common but isnít rare either.

Michael ďBig BallsĒ Dickson is a rock star in Seattle, he was a Pro Bowler last year as a rookie and is talked about a lot and featured often in the media. Johnny Hekker is a big deal for the Rams. Punters are well-known and the good ones are celebrated.
How many punters are in the Hall of Fame?* Players, coaches, GMs, and knowledgeable fans know the value of a good punter, yes, but how often do you hear the sports-talk guys on the radio or ESPN discussing which kicker the Giants will start next week?Iím speaking ex cathedra from the seat of my pants, of course, but I donít think Joe Sixpack down at the bar really cares about the punter. Until he screws up.

*The answer is one, by the way: Ray Guy.
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Old 10-07-2019, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
Players, coaches, GMs, and knowledgeable fans know the value of a good punter, yes, but how often do you hear the sports-talk guys on the radio or ESPN discussing which kicker the Giants will start next week?
Since you mention the Giants, Jeff Feagles was well known as the Giants punter for the last 7 years of his 20+ year career because he was the last of the coffin corner punters, and noticeably contributed to their 2007 season and Superbowl win.

During that time Mike Golic used to talk about him relatively often on Mike & Mike in the morning because Golic and Feagles were teammates on the Eagles in the 80s. (!)

But he was the outlier exception that proves your point.

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 10-07-2019 at 07:49 AM.
  #39  
Old 10-07-2019, 08:11 AM
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I agree with offensive guards. They are probably the lowest paid starters on a football team, and they are subject to leg/knee injuries because they are constantly being rolled up on in the tangled mess known as the interior line.
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  #40  
Old 10-07-2019, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
I agree with offensive guards. They are probably the lowest paid starters on a football team, and they are subject to leg/knee injuries because they are constantly being rolled up on in the tangled mess known as the interior line.
Not even close to lowest paid.
https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/positional/

Unfortunately that doesnít differentiate between starters and backups which might explain why the QB salary isnít higher.

On average guards are paid almost the same as a wide receiver. Offensive linemen in general are paid pretty well. Left tackle is the highest paid on the OL, with guard the lowest.

Long snapper is basically the NFL equivalent of minimum wage. It sticks out like a sore thumb on the list.
  #41  
Old 10-13-2019, 12:07 AM
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#2 catcher in baseball. You get to play on day games that follow night games. Otherwise you just sit in the dugout in case the #1 gets hurt.

In four man bobsled, those two guys in the middle who once their in the sled are basically ballast.
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