More often than not, if people are talking about a long snapper during a football game, it's because something bad happened. In the case of Friday night's preseason opener, however, all five of Nate Boyer's snaps were on the money.
So why bring up something as mundane as five accurate snaps? Because those five routine plays were part of one of the more remarkable stories of the Seahawks' preseason. At 34, Boyer is the oldest player on Seattle's roster, but he's also a rookie. After serving in the Army as a Green Beret, Boyer decided, at age 29, to try to walk on to the football team at Texas despite having never played organized football. After spending a season as a scout-team safety, he saw his chance to actually get on the field in one of the more obscure elements of the game. Texas needed a long-snapper for the 2012 season, so Boyer spent an offseason teaching himself the position while deployed with the National Guard. He won the job, and was able to contribute for three seasons while on scholarship at one of the most storied programs in college football.
For most people, that would be the experience of a lifetime, then it would be time for real life, but Boyer is a dreamer, so he pushed to pursue an NFL career. The Seahawks signed him as an undrafted free agent on the final day of the draft, and while Boyer will have a hard time beating Clint Gresham for the job, he's enjoying every minute of the ride, however far it takes him, while trying to prove to the Seahawks, or some other NFL team, that he can be an NFL long snapper.
"I felt really relaxed," Boyer said. "The first half I didn't play, so the trick there was to try to stay in the flow and not get stiff. When you're 34, you got to keep the wheels greased up. But it was fun. It really was."
Prior to the game, Boyer led the team onto the field carrying an American flag, a moment that meant a lot to him because he knows so many servicemen and servicewomen have been following his story.
"That was cool," he said. "I was actually pretty emotional, just because I always think about my buddies who I fought with, or the ones who are overseas right now. And usually in college you don't stay out there for the National Anthem, so that got to me too. That whole thing. But just knowing how many of those guys were watching, it's really special. It was neat.
Boyer figured there would be nerves when he stood over the ball for the first time after taking over for Gresham in the second half, but instead he felt relaxed. That snap was accurate, as were his next four, and with that, Boyer had made a successful, and importantly for a long snapper, uneventful NFL debut.
"Not really, to be honest," Boyer said when asked if he was nervous. "I thought I would have more nerves. I probably had more nerves just leading up to it. I had more nerves for the first snap of practice than I did for this one. So, less than I thought which is good."