New Raiders Long Snapper Travis Tripucka Brings a Familiar Name Back to the NFL

Rocco Constantino@@br_jets_reportContributor ISeptember 12, 2012

Photo by Gordon Daniels
Photo by Gordon Daniels

If the name Travis Tripucka sounds vaguely familiar to NFL football fans, it should.

Tripucka is the son of former NBA all-star Kelly Tripucka and grandson of former AFL all-star quarterback Frank Tripuka.

This afternoon Tripucka tweeted that he will be trying to make a name of his own as the contingency plan for the Oakland Raiders if long snapper Jon Condo is out this week.

Just a few months ago, Tripucka was spending an afternoon teaching the art of long-snapping to the Queen of Peace high school football team as a favor to head coach Steve Romano. As Tripucka spent that afternoon in southern Bergen County, he couldn't possibly conceive that an entire fanbase would be breathing a sigh of relief that he'd be signed to their squad.

But that's just what has happened after Raiders fans watched Travis Goethel's very public meltdown against the Chargers on Monday Night Football while filling in for injured long snapper Jon Condo.

Tripucka comes to the Raiders after being in camp this preseason with the St. Louis Rams. By all accounts, he did well when given the chance in St. Louis, but the Rams were happy with second-year long snapper Jake McQuaide, so Tripucka eventually found himself out of a job.

Tripucka sent an ominous tweet last night as he watched the game with his father Kelly.

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After Goethel rolled two consecutive dribblers to punter Shane Lechler, Tripucka tweeted the following

@LunchMeat8 Watching #MNF wit pops...I should be out there.

It looks like next week, he will be.

The wheels were set in motion this morning and by this afternoon, Tripucka had himself a job. But Tripucka's quest to the NFL wasn't the same as most.

Tripucka was a stand-out athlete at Mountain Lakes High School in New Jersey.  He excelled at basketball and football, but his top sport was lacrosse.

Tripucka ended up heading to UMass for lacrosse, where he became one of the team's top defenders. A chance encounter with a UMass football assistant coach who saw Tripucka casually long-snapping perfect spirals on campus eventually led to a deal between the football and lacrosse teams that allowed him to play both sports.

The gifted athlete did well long-snapping for the Minutemen and that led to his chance with the Rams after graduation.

Current Rams' special teams coach John Fassel, the son of former Giants coach Jim Fassel, was the Raiders special teams coach the past three seasons, so the connection lies therin. What role Fassel played in all of this remains unclear, however.

The Tripucka name was in the news last March, but this time it was attached to Travis' grandfather Frank.  

Frank Tripucka's No. 18 had been retired by the Broncos, but when they signed Peyton Manning, Tripucka happily encouraged his number be brought out of retirement to be worn by the future Hall of Famer.

In typical fashion, Manning was humble in hearing the news.  In a Denver Post article he said:

I feel like he really wants me to wear his number.  It was a very humbling conversation, and I am honored to wear his number, being another quarterback for the Denver Broncos."

If Travis Tripucka is still a Raider when they take on the Broncos on September 30, Manning will have the chance to thank Frank Tripucka's grandson in person. 

Travis Tripucka's future in the NFL remains uncertain. Condo hasn't been ruled out of Sunday's game just yet after suffering a concussion against the Chargers. However, with the NFL's new rules regarding concussions, Condo will have to gain clearance from an independent neurologist before being able to play. With ultra-safe procedures now in effect when dealing with concussions, there seems to be a good chance that Tripucka will have a shot to show the world what he can do.

While most don't pay too much attention to the long snapper, that won't be the case in Oakland this week. All eyes will be on whoever is snapping after the opening night debacle, and there's a good chance those eyes will be seeing a familiar name: Tripucka.

The same Tripucka family name of Frank, an All-American at Notre Dame in 1948 who was the first pro quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards and son of Kelly, the current NBA broadcaster and Detroit Pistons' all-star.

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