“I’ve been lucky,” Denney says. “There’s so much turnover in the league. To be able to stay in one place for more than a couple of years is not common. No one likes to move. Picking your family up and moving around isn’t easy, but it’s part of the job. So to be able to stay in one place — and my first place as well — I’ve lucked out, for sure.”
Clearly, there’s more than luck involved.
Denney isn’t about to embark on his eighth season in the NFL simply because he happened to be in the right place at the right time.
He’s earned his spot on the team by becoming one of the league’s most reliable long-snappers.
It might not be “crazy” that Denney is the longest-tenured player on the team, but it probably will come as a surprise to many Dolphins fans because you just don’t hear about him very often.
Considering his job description, that’s a good thing.
Think about it. Whenever a long-snapper makes news, it’s usually because of a botched snap. And there have been very few of those for Denney.
“That’s all it is with my position,” Denney said. “That’s all you’ve got to do. Long-snapping is a job (where) each team has to have one, but it’s not something I want to worry about. If you can do your job and keep your mouth shut and stay off the radar, then they can sign you up and tuck you in a corner and not have to worry about that. It’s just doing your job and laying low.”
Denney has done his job well enough that the Dolphins haven’t brought another long-snapper to training camp the last couple of years.
Going back to the start of Denney’s career, Dolphins fans would have a hard time remembering a bad snap, and that says all you need to know about his performance.
Oh, and don’t bother asking Denney about his number of errant snaps.
“No, man, flushed them down the toilet and forgot about them,” he says. “Short memory. There’s no reason I need to remember those.”
That doesn’t mean Denney has gotten complacent because making a perfect snap has become almost automatic.
On the contrary, Denney doesn’t take anything for granted. That’s why he’ll get together with Fields a couple of times a week during the offseason to continuing perfecting his skill.
“You’ve still got to stick with it,” Denney said. “You can’t get complacent because the second you get complacent is when the young guy comes in and beats you out. There’s always going to be someone else coming for your job. You get complacent, that’s when you get in trouble. So you always have to stay on top of your game. You can’t let your guard down. I can’t let up. I’ve still got to stick with the same routine, work on the small things and lots of reps. Make sure I keep the feel of snapping as second nature.”
Back in the summer of 2005, it was Denney who was that young guy who came in and eventually unseated veteran Ed Perry, who had been the Dolphins’ long-snapper for a few years.
In his sixth season, Denney was rewarded for his work when he was selected to the AFC Pro Bowl team.
“That was definitely exciting,” Denney said. “It’s something you’re always working towards. Definitely the highlight of my career. To be selected from a coaching staff within the league, it’s something, it’s a goal every single player has and to be able to attain that is definitely satisfying.”
But don’t think Denney felt any sense of job security because of that, though.
“No, zero, uh-huh,” he said. “You’ve still got to do your job.”
If Denney has his way, he’ll be doing that job for a lot longer. He is two seasons away from matching the NFL career of his brother Ryan, who was a defensive end with the Buffalo Bills from 2002-09 before playing two games with Houston in 2010.
But John, who will turn 34 in December, actually could see himself playing into his 40s.
“Sure. Why not?” he says. “Absolutely. I’ll go as long as I can. I’ll be here until I get shown the door.”