Retkofky unrecognized, unappreciated

Dave Pollard, SLAM!Sports

, Last Updated: 3:04 PM ET

TAMPA, Fla. - Anonymity is long snapper Jared Retkofsky's calling card.

The only time the glare of the spotlight shines on the likes of Retkofky, possibly the most unrecognized and unappreciated player on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster, is when something monumentally bad happens. And a snap over the head of Mitch Berger in Super Bowl XLIII might not just be costly to the Steelers, it might put Retkofsky on the unemployment line.

But it goes with the territory. No one knows that better than Retkofsky, who signed with the Steelers after incumbent Greg Warren was placed in injured reserve in late October.

"I don't know where I will be next year or if I'll ever play again," Retkofsky said. "I could end my playing career in the Super Bowl and I think that would be awesome. My first year, we're 11 weeks in; we go to the playoffs, have an amazing run and we're in the Super Bowl.

"That's just so surreal and I never expected it. This is going to be a game that will be remembered forever."

Retkofsky is just happy to have a job in the NFL, thankless that it is.

The 25-year-old from Justin, Tx., was cut by the Steelers in 2007 and had a cup of coffee with the Seattle Seahawks before being released later that year. He had resigned himself to a life away from football and started working for $15 an hour as a furniture mover when the Steelers needed a long snapper on short notice.

"I didn't know if I was going to be able to crawl out of the hole I was in," Retkofsky said. "It was just a really tough time of my life. I didn't know if I was ever going to play in the NFL. Now I'm preparing for a Super Bowl. It is unbelievable.

"When I was growing up I never once thought about playing or winning a Super Bowl. I always said, 'that's too much to ask for, I just want to play in the NFL.'"

Guaranteeing the ball gets safely to Berger, the Steelers punter and holder for Jeff Reed on field goal attempts, is Retkofsky's sole responsibility. It's not a glamorous gig and every play is fraught with potentially bad outcomes.

Nobody really notices, or applauds, a successful snap. A wayward snap is a different story.

So Retkofsky and Berger need to be on the same page when they are on the field together. Their marriage of sorts is something they've worked on during the three months Retkofsky has spent with the Steelers.

"Mitch and I have an odd relationship; it's almost like a husband and wife relationship," he said. "We fight, we have our little arguments but the bottom line is when it's time to get the job done, we try to get the job done. If I don't give him a good snap, it makes his job so much harder.

"I understand that completely."


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