Denney Cherishes Pro Bowl Experience

Posted Mar 8, 2013

Miami’s long snapper was a coach’s choice for the trip to Hawaii.

Long snappers in the National Football League prefer to remain anonymous because that means they are doing their job well. But for the second time in three years, John Denney of the Miami Dolphins was singled out by the head coach of the AFC squad in the Pro Bowl.

This time it was the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick, leader of one of the Dolphins’ toughest rivals in the AFC East, who made Denney the coach’s selection for the annual all-star game. Belichick’s reputation for studying every player on the opposing roster adds more credibility to Denney’s second trip to Hawaii.

“It’s great to be selected and to be able to go again was really unexpected,” Denney said. “It was an awesome surprise and you appreciate the idea that there are other coaches in the league that recognize your efforts.”

One of the highlights of the game for Denney was sprinting down the field on a kickoff and chasing down former New York Jet Leon Washington from behind to hold him to a short return. Washington plays for the Seattle Seahawks and during the regular season he ran back a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Miami managed to win the game, 24-21, but Denney still remembers that play.

“Yeah, unfortunately when it counted during the season we didn’t get to him like that,” said Denney, who is the longest tenured Dolphin headed into his ninth season. “So I met up with Leon again and it was fun to be able to get in there and make that play. It was also fun because they put me on all of the other special teams and I actually got a lot more work and plays in the game than I usually do so that was fun.”

The fact that he wasn’t the only player from Miami in the game also made it special for Denney. He was joined by defensive end Cameron Wake, defensive tackle Randy Starks and left guard Richie Incognito. Wake made it as a starter and Starks and Incognito were alternates.

“It was awesome and surreal and it was kind of déjà vu like because the last time I had that opportunity I was there with Cam and Randy as well,” Denney said. “This time Richie was there and my family came down with me. My brothers had a chance to go this time and my wife’s parents were able to go as well. We had a blast.”

Denney also saw the game as a chance to show how valuable the long snapper actually is and a little more of what his job entails. The most important thing of course is to make a good snap to punter Brandon Fields in punting situations and as the holder on Dan Carpenter’s field goal and extra point attempts.

After the 2009 season, Carpenter was a late replacement for the injured Nate Kaeding in the only Pro Bowl played in South Florida at Sun Life Stadium. Fields has yet to make a Pro Bowl in his six seasons and Denney was among the many that thought this was the year.

“It was definitely backwards,” he said. “Brandon had a great year and coming in towards the end of the season I was thinking to myself, ‘If Brandon gets in this I might have a small chance to ride in on his coattails if they’re looking to select a snapper. I was really surprised he didn’t end up with the selection and then the whole thing got flipped and I ended up getting selected. I even offered to bring them down but it was real late because they pick the snappers the week before you actually head out so I talked to Brandon and he had a real busy schedule already so he wasn’t able to make it. It was definitely not how I imagined it was going to be.”
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