Originally written on Denver Post  |  Last updated 1/13/12

San Diego Chargers long snapper David Binn during an AFC practice Feb. 7 for the 2007 Pro Bowl at Kapolei, Hawaii. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

With Lonie Paxton unavailable, the Broncos today signed former San Diego Chargers’ long snapper David Binn, 39, to step into the role against New England Saturday.

Binn is renowned as one of the best at the craft in NFL history, but this is how long he was at it before the Chargers released him last summer. He was part of one of the most fun stories I’ve ever done — my Sporting News cover story on long snappers. It ran in October 1995. (Archive version here.)

The Vikings’ Mike Morris, now a talk-show host in Minneapolis, was on the cover, and I spent the most time with him, but also checked in with other long snappers around the league, both in person and on the phone.

Most of them were nuts. And I mean that in a good way.

Here’s the passage on Binn:

David Binn, Chargers

He was a good high school player in San Mateo, then walked on at the University of California, claiming he could make himself indispensable as a snapper. Before long, Binn was lining up for the first time, against the University of Miami, and hearing the Hurricanes’ Russell Maryland declare: “I’m gonna knock you right on your —!” Maryland didn’t, and the snap was fine.

Later, the Cal staff awarded Binn a scholarship. With his flowing hair, Binn — who majored in, ahem, ecology and the social system — seemed more likely to be playing guitar in People’s Park than playing for the football team.

He made the Chargers as an undrafted free agent last year. When he is out in public, Binn will first claim to be a quarterback. “No one believes me,” he says, laughing. “Then I say, `Well, you know the long-snapper?’ They say, `What?’ I say, `Well, long snapping … that’s what I do.’ They laugh. I laugh. They say, `That’s cool. At least you’re out there.’”

I also quoted him in the passage about getting the laces just right:

Increasingly, special-teams coaches are demanding that the snapper deliver the ball to the holder as close to the perfect position every time; in other words, so the holder doesn’t have to spin the ball to get the strings away from the kicker.

“I’m pretty much able to do that every time,” the Chargers’ Binn says. “In college, I didn’t even think about it. We kicked from 7 yards, one foot back and I just held the ball on the laces when I snapped and it came out right naturally. But here in the pros, they said 8 yards and the strings had to be perfect, so I experimented. On field goals, for it to come out right, I hold the strings out to the side, with the fingers on the bare ball. I’ve gotten used to it.”

My Friday morning story on John Fox.

email: tfrei@denverpost.com

Terry Frei’s Web Site, With Book Information plus News, Views and Experiences

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