In the long snapping profession, anonymity is usually the best policy.
Typically the most-unheralded position on the team, the odds of a long snapper getting attention of the positive variety is slim. But that wasn't the case recently for Redskins' long snapper Nick Sundberg.
Last Sunday, while lined up in punt protection late in the first half, Sundberg's left arm broke when it struck an opposing player's helmet.
Diagnosed with a broken arm, none of his teammates would have blamed Sundberg if he decided to come out of the game. But Sundberg, a three-year veteran, decided to gut it out the rest of the game despite intense pain.
"It was difficult – it was really a test, mentally," Sundberg said after. "I had to tell myself it didn't hurt."
Sundberg emerged from the locker room at halftime with his left arm heavily wrapped, but quickly ditched the padding and took some warm-up snaps with holder/punter Sav Rocca. Those warm-ups, Sundberg said, were excruciating.
"When I was on the field, everything took over and I wasn't thinking about things. You just kind of react," Sundberg said. "On the sidelines, you're thinking about everything and feeling everything.
"When I was warming up, I threw some of the worst snaps I've ever seen in my life. Every one was on the ground. Then I was thinking to myself, 'How am I going to go out there and actually do this?'"
As the game would dictate, Sundberg had six in-game snaps in the second half – four field goals and two punts – and was successful on each attempt.
Each time Sundberg came off the field, he said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was "jumping up and down" in excitement.
"My next snap after it happened was a field goal. When I came off the field [Shanahan] was the first one to congratulate me," Sundberg said. "He'd say, 'Great job! I can't believe you're out there. Keep it up--you're doing great.'
"That really helped me to get that feedback."
Sundberg said he also benefitted from the support of Rocca and Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff.
"Sav grabbed me and was like, 'Hey, if you're going to do this, I'm right there with you," Sundberg said. "He said, 'Put it anywhere and I'll get it. I've got you're back; I understand you're in a lot of pain. Just make it catchable and I'll work with anything you can get to me. Let's get through the game and we'll figure everything else out after.
"'Just get it to me and we're good.'"
The injury wasn't the first time Sundberg had broken his arm during football season. The last time it happened, Sundberg was in high school and was able to wear an arm brace.
This time around, however, Sundberg is expected to miss several weeks of action as he works on adjusting to life while wearing a bulky hard cast on his left arm.
The Redskins have since signed former Indianapolis Colts long snapper Justin Snow, but decided to place Sundberg on injured reserve under the "designated to return" specification.
The new league rule means Sundberg can return to the team this season, but must sit out eight weeks. Shanahan reported yesterday that the timing of Sundberg's recovery should be an ideal fit for the new rule.
At a rather tumultuous roster position, Sundberg is just excited to remain in the organization.
"It showed me that they really appreciate what I do and they've got strong faith that I can come back and play well," Sundberg said of the team's designation to return. "That's the biggest thing: they want me to come back. It definitely was surprising but I'm extremely happy about it."
For his in-game heroics and true NFL grit, Sundberg has received a slew of media attention, including a five-minute live interview on ESPN's "Sportscenter."
Sundberg, however, is just happy to have the admiration and respect of his teammates and Redskins fans.
"I've gotten a ton of love from a bunch of different fans," he said. "A lot of people have been contacting me saying, 'I don't know you, but I appreciate what you did for the team, putting the team above self.' It was a real inspiration. It was really nice to get a lot of feedback like that.
"And from teammates, saying things like, 'Hey, you're crazy, but thank you. We appreciate what you did.' The respect level has gone up.
"Unfortunately, it had to happen this way, but it's definitely been positive."