No man receives less respect.
No man receives fewer accolades.
No man is better at his job.
For ten years, the Miami Dolphins have relied on this player every Sunday. He has rarely, if ever, disappointed. He plays with heart. He plays with pride. He plays with the spirit you want from the 53 men on your football team.
Yes, I am talking about Miami Dolphins’ long snapper, John Denney.
John Denney is currently the longest tenured player on the Miami Dolphins. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005, after graduating from BYU. His first season with the team was also the inaugural season for Nick Saban. Yes, Denney has lasted through Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano, Joe Philbin, and now into the Adam Gase era.
Not one of those coaches thought to cut Denney. He is Mr. Automatic. I would like all of you loyal Dolphins’ fans to think back as far as you can, and try to remember a time in the last decade that the team has had a botched snap.
Nope. I didn’t think so.
John Denney really should have been elected to every Pro Bowl in the past 8-10 seasons. Unfortunately, he has only been selected twice (2010 and 2012). While the game is a popularity contest among fan bases, seeing who can cast the most votes, it is still a shame that Denney isn’t a household name.
There was a time in which John Denney was not a household name in Sun Life Stadium, even among those who run game day operations for the team. In NFL stadiums, fans will be entertained by various pieces of video content shown on the jumbotrons during media timeouts. In this case, the game was a contest between two players to see who could win an arcade game, each representing a section that had the chance to win a gift card.
The match? Andrew Franks VS. John Denney. What did the team caption the video on the jumbotron?
Andrew Franks VS. John DENNY. Yes, they misspelled the name of the longest tenured player currently on the team. I have never had less faith in this franchise than I did at that moment.
Last season, the team also created a list of the top fifty players in their history as a celebration of their golden anniversary this past season. Who was not included in this list? You guessed it, John Denney.
Yeah, Chad Pennington had one pretty great season with the team, but does he really deserve a spot over Denney? Chad Pennington made mistakes. He threw interceptions. He fumbled the ball. John Denney has never made a mistake. Even if he has, he’s probably the only one who noticed.
This past season, at age 37, Denney was still gunning downfield making tackles. He made 3 during 2015, putting his career total at 40. In 2012, Denney actually forced two fumbles. That ranks him ahead of Dion Jordan, who has had 0 forced fumbles in his career.
Denney is also currently running a streak of 176 consecutive starts. That ranks second among active players. If he starts every game for two more full seasons, he will finish his career in the top ten players of all time for consecutive starts.
It is also worth noting that John Denney could at some point receive football’s greatest honor, and be inducted to the NFL Hall of Fame. There are currently no players in the Hall of Fame at the long snapper position. If the committee doesn’t let John Denney in, then they might as well admit there is no place for the position in Canton at all.
I should note that it is not just John Denney that doesn’t receive the proper respect. It is the entire long snapper community. The position is integral. In an NFL game, there are thousands of conditions and circumstances coaches have to worry about, and they are constantly forced to weigh different options based on the strengths and weaknesses of their team. The last thing that they need is to be concerned about their long snapping situation.
John Denney has brought consistency to the Dolphins at that position. Coaches never grow concerned about the possibility of a low snap skipping across the ground on a punt, or a high snap soaring over the punter’s head.
Denney also embodies the selflessness that all football players should carry themselves with when they join a team. Denney initially came to Miami as a defensive end out of BYU. He admitted that it was frustrating early on, but he accepted the role of long snapper so that he could contribute to the team. He never demands attention; he never makes issues in the locker room. He has followed in the great tradition that long snappers hold of quietly and mechanically going about their jobs.
So, after years of disrespect, I knew that I needed to attempt to do my small part in bringing recognition to possibly the greatest long snapper in NFL history. I decided to purchase a John Denney jersey. Yes, you can find me at Sun Life Stadium, basking in the warmth and beauty of South Florida sporting number 92.
The Miami Dolphins have been one of the NFL’s most turbulent franchises. Front office changes are made frequently, coaches come and go and players are not retained long term. However, there has been one constant. For over a decade, one player has been doing his job and takes the field each Sunday for the Miami Dolphins . He doesn’t receive respect, and he doesn’t receive accolades. However, there is nobody better at his job. He is one of the most underrated players in team history, and probably deserves to be his position’s first representative in Canton.
That player is John Denney.