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I'm the Long Snapper

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I knew that title would grab your attention.

People often ask me to help them with Airtable projects and I agree to help them from time-to-time, but not always. And I don’t even post much about my work because - well - it’s a bit boring and obscure to most onlookers. Some of my architectures require data in Airtable to magically sync to Google Sheets at the cell level - literally the data in a cell in Airtable must update to a target cell in Google Sheets in near real-time. While possible, not many people require this level of integration let alone in less than 1 second. As such, my work tends to be very behind-the-scenes sort’a like the city waste managers - workers who deal with stuff you need to work reliably but whose names are never known unless something failed. :winking_face:

The title of this post relates to a very specialized role in the NFL (and increasingly College football). The “long snapper” is a specialist whose craft is not really known by even the most ardent football fans. With the Superbowl upon us, there’s a timely Feakonomics episode about the history and data behind the long snapper.

This role is 40% physical and 60% scientific. The “athlete” must pass the football while looking upside-down at the receiver. More specifically, he (or she, but there aren’t any presently) must also rotate the ball at a high speed and have the laces arrive in the upright or forward-facing position every time despite passing it different distances; ~8yds for PATs and ~15 yards for punts; a red zone punt, however, tosses a variable into the equation.

This person remains anonymous to fans until they fail.

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Long snappers are data guys who practice their craft endlessly and while they are not compensated like franchise players, their life expectancy in the NFL is two or three times the average player. More interestingly are the economic drivers for reserving one of 49 roster positions for this highly specialized player. The podcast dissects this decision from many angles. Bill Belichick, one of the most successful coaches in the history of the NFL regularly dismisses press questions with a grunt, or a headshake to wave off uninteresting topics was quick to detail a ten-minute answer on long snapping.

Depending on your Airtable project requirements, you may need a few specialists, so make sure you budget for the subtle specialities that could make the difference between a green checkbox in the win column and a red one in the lose column.

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