On paper, it might seem like a breeze to play long snapper. On the field for maybe ten plays per game, snap the ball back, and let everyone else do their job. In practice, pal around with the kicker and punter as everyone else crashes into each other. But hearing it from former Pittsburgh Steelers long snapper Kameron Canaday is a tougher job than you think. Not just in the physical act of snapping but the mental pressure of knowing one bad snap can cost your team a game…and you a job.

Joining Cameron Haines on the Keep Hammering Collective podcast in an episode that aired Tuesday, Canaday discussed the anxiety of the job.

“My whole career, it never seemed like it got better as far as my nerves,” he told the show.

Canaday felt first-hand how quickly things can change. Before signing with Pittsburgh, he spent the 2016 season with the Arizona Cardinals. It became a brief stint after a botched snap against the Buffalo Bills led to a touchdown the other way. The margin of error in the NFL is razor-thin, especially for a specialist. Canaday said injuries played a factor in the disaster. He was playing through a cracked shoulder while the holder had a “bum ankle,” hindering his ability to reach up for the high snap.

Still, Pittsburgh gave Kameron Canaday a second chance in 2017. Despite the Steelers drafting Colin Holba in the sixth round, Canaday won the job.

“I get a call from the Steelers saying, ‘Hey, we want to sign you.’ So I went over there, ended up beating a kid out who they drafted. Which was cool. And I had a good career. It was fun.”

Fun to be an NFL player. But Canaday felt the heat. Even in his best moments, that feeling was inescapable.

“It was just a constant battle, mentally, for me, too. I was second-up in the Pro Bowl one of the years. I had a good season. But you look at me, and you’re like, ‘That guy is one of the better long snappers in the league.’ But inside, I was dying. I was like, we’ve got one week out of the way, let’s just keep going. It’s a 16-week season, and by the end, [you’re spent].”

No doubt a feeling furthered by his sudden end in Arizona. Canaday wouldn’t have the same miscues in Pittsburgh, serving as the team’s snapper for four seasons, 2017 through 2020. He was there for some of K Chris Boswell’s best seasons, including a Pro Bowl year in 2017 and a bounce-back 2019 campaign. It also included the occasional crucial tackle, like preventing Jabrill Peppers from running this punt back to the house.

Kameron Canaday would lose his job to Christian Kuntz for the 2021 season, though it was a close battle and tough decision. He briefly spent time with the Chicago Bears before retiring.

While the job’s mental stress was bad enough, it wasn’t a cushy gig from a physical standpoint, either.

“Lot of people are like, it might be nice being a long snapper. You don’t get hit very often. And I’m thinking, these guys have no idea.”

Kameron Canaday shared his battles against Baltimore Ravens DL Derek Wolfe, who micro-dosed on mushrooms pre-game, slamming into him on the field goal team. While the NFL has some protections for the snapper, players still slam and fall into each other over the middle, right onto people like Canaday.

“You can hit people during a punt when you’re a snapper. You get rocked. It’s just like any other position. You gotta snap and then block one-on-one.”

Stressful as it was, Canaday can look back on his career with pride. His mistakes in Arizona only make his time in the NFL more remarkable. Many snappers don’t get a second chance. He did and took advantage, holding down a starting job for multiple seasons before exiting the NFL. It’s a resume to be proud of.

Listen to the whole interview before.


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