Longevity. It’s something that every professional athlete spends their career chasing, but few actually achieve. With the average NFL career spanning just three years, longevity is tough to come by.
That is, of course, unless you’re Titans long snapper Beau Brinkley.
Brinkley’s NFL story is one that defies the odds. He signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and is about to enter his ninth season in two-tone blue.
As he gets ready for yet another training camp, Brinkley’s roster spot appears to be as safe as ever. It’s an incredible feat for somebody who signed with Tennessee before he knew what his true position was.
Brinkley has been able to achieve longevity by being the best at what he does. After all, he is the highest paid long snapper in the league. It’s just another impressive accomplishment in what’s been a career full of surprises.
The second longest tenured Titan (his partner Brett Kern has him beat in that category), Brinkley has seen it all in Tennessee. He’s played for multiple head coaches, witnessed ownership turbulence from afar, and finally, has observed the franchise recently achieve something he did long ago: Stability.
Brinkley recently told the story of his career to Broadway Sports, and no stone was left unturned.
JM: I wanna take you back to the beginning. When did you start long–snapping, and how did you first get into it?
BB: It was basically something my dad and I did growing up. It was our way of playing catch, so to speak. It was just fun to me. My dad was a long snapper in college. That’s how we played catch in the backyard. He’d turn around and snap one to me (laughs). He was a one-hander when it came to snapping the ball. It was kinda cool to see that. I gave it a try and it started to come naturally to me.
I never really thought much of it growing up. I certainly didn’t think it would grow into what its grown into for me. I didn’t care to do it when I was playing high school football. It just didn’t matter to me. I never worked at it throughout high school. I was just somebody that could do it. It kinda took me from there. I played a little tight end in high school.
I ended up walking on at The University of Missouri to play tight end. They knew I could long-snap and I began doing it for them. They basically just needed somebody who could do it. It ended up working out for me. I did it at Missouri for four years. I signed with the Titans back in 2011-12. I’ve been here in Tennessee ever since.
JM: You signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent back in 2011-12, as you said. What do you recall from those early days?
BB: I recall it being a nerve-racking time for me (laughs). My metabolism had not slowed down yet so I couldn’t keep any weight on. I was incredibly undersized. I especially felt undersized throughout my first training camp. I was probably around 230 pounds when I first came in. I felt so small next to everybody else. Realizing what I was up against, it was an eye-opening experience for me.
I remember my first professional game, it was a preseason game against Tom Brady and the Patriots. That was an unreal moment for me. I remember going up against Vince Wilfork on the field goal team. That’s probably something that I’ll never forget (laughs). It was definitely an eye-opening process for me. I had a lot of fun with it.
JM: I can’t imagine a more appropriate “welcome to the NFL” moment for an undrafted long snapper than going up against Vince Wilfork on the field goal team in your first game.
BB: Oh yeah, it was pretty intense (laughs). I believe he actually fell on top of me after one of the field goals. Somebody fell on me. I don’t know if it was Wilfork for sure, but it sure as heck felt like Wilfork (laughs). It knocked the wind right out of me. That was definitely my welcome to the league moment.
JM: I bet it was. You ended up making the roster that year and you’ve been a mainstay on it ever since. You almost fell into long-snapping by mistake as you explained earlier, it was just something that you did for fun with your dad. At what point in your football career did you start to realize that being a reliable long-snapper could lead to such job security?
BB: That probably happened for me during my senior year at Missouri. When I went to Mizzou, I wanted to play tight end so badly. That was what I always put my mind to. I wasn’t the fastest guy, but I could catch and I love blocking. I wanted to prove myself as a tight end. I eventually got on the field as a tight end, but I was behind a whole bunch of guys.
Long-snapping began to get me the playing time I so desperately wanted. At that point, I started to realize that maybe I wasn’t good enough to play tight end, but here’s something else I could do to get me on the field. Long-snapping ultimately earned me a scholarship at Mizzou. It paved a way for me.
I never had a clue that I could play in the NFL as a long-snapper. Back then, we didn’t have social media. I wasn’t really exposed to the idea. I wasn’t aware of all the tools that were out there.
After my senior year, I started to receive a few letters from NFL teams. That’s when it started to register for me. That’s when my dad and I went to a few camps for long-snappers. I started to fine-tune some stuff at that point. Mind you, this is pretty late in the game. Hey, maybe I do have a shot to play in the NFL. It just didn’t hit me until after my senior season (laughs).
JM: That’s incredible, and so unheard of. There’s really nothing like it. You’ve gone into camp every year since 2011-12 and you’ve been the most reliable long-snapper in the NFL. For a guy who walked-on at Missouri and your dream of playing tight end wasn’t in the cards, you’re able to go into camp every year with a secure job. You haven’t really faced any competition for your roster spot. Coming where you come from, it’s rare.