Name: Mike Windt
NFL games played: 101
Games played for the Chargers: 101
Fun fact: Researching this was not easy. One thing that made it even harder was that Mike Windt's had his Twitter account suspended! (No idea what for).
How does a 16 year old decide to become a Long Snapper? Well, in Mike Windt's case, it was all down to his father, Joe Windt. Joe had never played football, but as a keen bowler and softball player, he knew arm talent when he saw it. Joe saw that Mike had a unique ability - namely, that he could snap a ball both faster and more accurately than he could throw it overhand.
If you were told 'I don't think quarterback is for you, what about long snapping?' I doubt you'd be best pleased, especially at 16. Joe was able to convince his son to give it a try - now heading into the seventh year of a multi-million dollar NFL career, I think Mike is probably glad he took his dad's advice.
Windt started snapping for Elder High School in Cincinnati in his junior year, and in his two years playing won back to back State Championships. Now, I'm not saying that Windt joining the team was the only reason that they won those Championships. I couldn't possibly say that. At most, that was only 90% of the reason.
You don't get scholarships for being a long snapper, no matter how good you are, so Windt went to college locally at the University of Cincinnati and attempted to walk onto the football team. He redshirted his freshman year, but won the starting job in his sophomore year, where he fired off 138 perfect snaps and was a key part of the #1 ranked punting unit in the nation. After another perfect season in his Junior year and graduating with a degree in Psychology, Windt decided to leave college a year early, foregoing his senior year.
After going undrafted, the Bengals picked Windt up as an UDFA. Windt playing football in Cincinnati in High School, College and the NFL would have been a pretty amazing story, but it wasn't to be, as the Bengals cut him before the season started. Their loss was the Chargers gain. They'd somehow gone through four long snappers on the season - by October. Three had landed on IR, and after an awful performance by the fourth that led to having two punts blocked against the Raiders, Windt was given the chance to show what he could do. After playing in more than 100 games for the Chargers since, I think he's shown it.
Windt got married in 2014, and it's an interesting story. For the last 38 years, one of the best things associated with the Chargers was their annual blood drive in San Diego (I'm not sure what the future of that event is now the Chargers are no longer associated with San Diego). One of the nurses at the blood drive - and a key figure in a fashion show run by the blood drive - was Kate Frederikson. Mike Windt would often go to the blood drive. Have you put two and two together?
Well, you're wrong. Windt didn't meet Frederikson there - although that would have been an incredible story. Instead, Windt introduced himself to her at the P. B. Sure Club, a bar in San Diego. Unfortunately for Windt, being an 'NFL player' is a lot less impressive when you're a long snapper, and the only reason people know your name is if you've made a mistake and you're about to get fired. Fortunately for Windt, the two clicked regardless - especially when Frederikson realised that Windt had been visiting children in the hospital even before meeting her.
Since getting married, Frederikson was the recipient of a Nurse of Excellence award, while Windt earned himself a new deal this offseason that, if he completes, will pay him $4.4 million.
Windt strikes me as a straightforward guy - his only pregame superstition is telling himself "don't f*** this up," and his hidden talent is being "good at everything that doesn't require a lot of effort."
Who can't relate to that?