Yesterday, the Bengals made what I believe to be a gut wrenching decision by releasing their oldest veteran, 10-year professional long snapper Brad St. Louis. He won’t get any fond farewells as Willie Anderson received.
St. Louis will barely be missed or even noticed that he is gone as long as his replacement doesn’t make any mistakes. In such an unforgiving job, the only reason why so many people know his name now is the several botched snaps that cost the Bengals several leads in the game, including botched snaps in the Broncos’ game where the Bengals subsequently lost.
Mistakes also led to the Browns game where an overtime was forced when an extra point was botched.
St. Louis plays such an unglamorous position, yet vital to the framework of a successful special teams unit. Everyone takes extra points and short range field goals for granted as if they were automatic. A block or missed field goal is often a highlight worthy simply for the rarity of it.
As a long snapper, there can be no mistakes—no one will ever mention your name unless you make a mistake (as what happened to St. Louis these past few weeks). At least offensive lineman have the pancake statistic.
What do long snappers have? Even if a long snapper performs well and has 50 straight snaps and all field goals are made, the kicker gets the credit. No glory in being a long snapper.
At least you're part of the team.
It is unfortunate St. Louis was released in what is mounting to be a very successful year for the Bengals, even after he spent so many years with a losing club doing his job day-in and day-out.
This sends a clear message to those in the clubhouse, perform or get out.
What this move does is send a message to everyone: Do your job or we don’t need you. Simply put, St. Louis was becoming a liability costing the Bengals precious points in cutthroat games down to the wire.
However, it is important to note: Had it not been for the mistakes of St. Louis, the Bengals wouldn’t habe had more chances to prove themselves in the clutch. With his mistakes, the Bengals had to drive down the field several more times across a few games and prove they could get it done in the clutch.
In a way, St. Louis’ mistakes have benefited the Bengals by allowing themselves to prove their mental toughness.