Chris learns to hike football with Dolphins long snapper

One of the most important players on a football team gets little, if any, glory: the long snapper. But Chris Van Vliet is aiming to change that for the Miami Dolphins’ long snapper, while trying to take his job in the process, in this week’s Keeping Up with Chris.

The Miami Dolphins are right on the bubble of making the playoffs, and I figured, at this point of the season, they might need my help. That’s right: I somehow earned a tryout for a spot on the Dolphins roster.

Chris Van Vliet: “I think you may have the most thankless job on any NFL team, because no one is really looking at you unless you do something wrong.”

John Denney: “We try to fly under the radar.”

John Denney has been the long snapper for the Dolphins for 14 seasons and is second only to Dan Marino in games played. Today, I’m going to try to take his job.

John Denney: “Honestly, the only way you’re going to get this is through reps.”

Chris Van Vliet: “This is second nature to you.”

John Denney: Yeah, to me, because I’ve done it a couple of hundred million times. It’s as easy as walking.”

Sure, it’s as easy as walking … if walking was like throwing a ball upside down between your legs.

John Denney: “OK, so I got my grip, I got my stance.”

(John snaps it)

Chris Van Vliet: “Oh, you make it look so easy.”

And with that, it was my turn…

John Denney: “Look at your target, get a visual.”

Chris Van Vliet: “There he is. OK.”

(I try a long snap)

Chris Van Vliet: “That was really bad. That was so bad.”

John Denney: “It’s going to be bad. Your rotation was bad, your alignment wasn’t horrible.”

So it’s pretty clear we have a long way to go.

Chris Van Vliet: “This really hurts my hamstrings.”

John Denney: “Squat down into it. Does that help at all?”

Chris Van Vliet: “Yeah, that helps a lot.”

Chris Van Vliet: “So it’s like this?”

John Denney: “Yep.”

(I hike it)

Chris Van Vliet: “Oh, my God. That was horrible.”

Chris Van Vliet: “Out of 10 right now, where would you say I’m at?”

John Denney: “We’re at a 1.”

Chris Van Vliet: “Are you ready? I like that they moved him closer for me.”

(I snap football)

Chris Van Vliet: “All right, no spin, but I got it to him.”

I figured maybe I could learn a little something if we switched spots, and I got to catch a few snaps.

John Denney: “Are you ready?”

Chris Van Vliet: “I’m ready!”

(John snaps football)

Chris Van Vliet: “Oh, that is so fast! That’s impressive!”

(Field goal snap to me)

Christ Van Vliet: “Oh, how do you do this? Wow.”

OK, let’s see if any of that helped me.

(Very bad field goal snap by me)

Chris Van Vliet: “Oh, no! We don’t want to do that!”

John Denney: “That was probably your longest snap of any of these.”

Chris Van Vliet: “Yeah, also probably one of my worst.”

There were a lot of snaps that looked like that, but slowly it got better.

(Good field goal snap by me)

Chris Van Vliet: “Ayyy!”

After that, my confidence was through the roof!

Chris Van Vliet: “This is the game winner, John.”

(My best snap yet!)

Chris Van Vliet: “Yeah! Thank you!”

I think it’s pretty clear that John Denney’s job is safe.

Chris Van Vliet: “That wasn’t bad though.”

John Denney: “No, you came a long way. Like I said, you put up that first snap to the last snap and see the improvement you had.”

Not too bad. Maybe I didn’t make the team, but there’s always next season.

Usually we have like two or three hours to shoot one of these segments. For this, we only had 15 minutes total. So when you take that into consideration, that snap was pretty darn good, if I say so myself.

What should I snap, or test, or try out for next? Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers, I’m looking at you. Email me, keepingupwithchris@wsvn.com.

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