Irish In The NFL: J.J. Jansen — The $10-Million Long Snapper
After graduating from Notre Dame and going undrafted in 2008, long snapper J.J. Jansen was signed by the Green Bay Packers. Only, he suffered a knee injury early in the year and spent the rest of the season on injured reserve.
His assumption was that the injury would spark the end of his football career. Jansen's mother agreed.
“I got hurt my first year in Green Bay and a few days later my mom said, ‘Would this not be a good time for you to go get your CPA,’” Jansen said. “I was an accounting major, and I thought, ‘All right, I kind of had my fun, I had my shot, and now I need to move on.’ I had zero expectations.
“I thought it was really cool that I got invited to an NFL camp. I had no sense of what the league thought of me. I had no sense of my talent level.”
To his surprise, the Packers traded him to the Carolina Panthers for a seventh-round draft pick before the following season and the rest is history.
A little more than a decade later, Jansen is still playing in the NFL with the Panthers. By the end of this season, he will have made $10,222,500 over his career and has more than $1 million left on his contract through the 2020 campaign.
Jansen is the fourth-most tenured long snapper currently in the NFL with 12 years of experience (Don Muhlbach of the Detroit Lions leads this category).
Jansen said his technique and thriving under pressure are crucial to his success as a long snapper, but he also noted the importance of having a selfless attitude.
“I always take my job very seriously, and I think everybody does,” Jansen said. “But I think having an early appreciation for what the job requirements were — it’s not about me.
“It’s what does the punter want? What does the kicker want? How can I put them in the best positions to be successful?”
His NFL maturation process began while he was at Notre Dame. Then Fighting Irish head coach Charlie Weis may have had his struggles on the field, but after coming from the New England Patriots he had NFL-like expectations for his players, which paid off for Jansen.
At the time, his special teams coach was Brian Polian, who has the same role with Notre Dame under current head coach Brian Kelly. Like Weis, he also brought a wealth of NFL knowledge.
“Coach Polian had his connections through his dad with the Colts and the Bills going back to previous years,” Jansen said. “You had a really good sense of what the NFL would be like, both on the field and off.
“I didn’t always feel it, but I think when you compare stories with other guys I was more prepared for the NFL than I think the typical player, and that was the advantage of playing for coaches that had a lot of experience and took their jobs really seriously.”
Jansen also benefited from having to learn how to snap and protect when his team was punting, which is necessary for the NFL because only the left and right gunners are allowed to pass the line of scrimmage and run down the field before the ball is actually kicked.
He noted this was once how it was in college, but a rule change made it so all 11 players could take off as soon as the ball was snapped and thus punt formations and the responsibility of a longer snapper have changed. If you watch the Irish today, you'll see current long snapper John Shannon take off as soon as he snaps the ball.
“It helped me immensely to be sort of in the old-school punt formation because that’s the way the NFL is,” Jansen said. “The rules haven’t changed in the NFL the way they have in college.”
While he has found his career as an NFL long snapper rewarding, the job still comes with its challenges.
One of the more difficult aspects of having a lengthy NFL career as a long snapper is that people only tend to notice him when he has made a mistake. He could make 500 perfect snaps in a row, but people are only going to talk about the one that went over the punter’s head.
“The fact that as a long snapper you’re relatively anonymous, you take pride in the fact that you become anonymous,” Jansen said. “I think it’s the same way that other players maybe take pride when they become recognized. It’s just a retraining of a professional value system. It’s not always easy — far from it — especially when times are tough.
“You can’t help but think man, ‘Nobody even knows who I am. I’m doing well, but everyone’s quick to say negative things.’”
Former Notre Dame Football Players In The NFL: Week 12 Recap
• Josh Adams (Played at Notre Dame from 2015-17), RB, New York Jets: Was signed from the practice squad Nov. 5 … Had four carries for six yards in 4-7 New York’s 34-3 win over the 6-5 Oakland Raiders.
• Alex Bars (2014-18), OG, Chicago Bears: Was inactive for the 5-6 Bears’ 19-14 home win over the 2-9 New York Giants.
• Miles Boykin (2015-18), WR, Baltimore Ravens: Grabbed two catches for 54 yards in 9-2 Baltimore’s 45-6 victory over the 6-5 Los Angeles Rams … For the season, he has 11 receptions for 185 yards and two scores.
• Sheldon Day (2012-15), DL, San Francisco 49ers: Recorded one tackle in the 10-1 49ers’ 37-8 win over the 8-3 Green Bay Packers … Has compiled eight tackles this season.
• Tyler Eifert (2009-12), TE, Cincinnati Bengals: Snagged one catch for seven yards in the 0-11 Bengals’ 16-10 home loss to the 6-5 Pittsburgh Steelers … Has 29 catches for 240 yards and two touchdowns through 11 games.
• Matthias Farley (2011‑15), DB, New York Jets: Played on special teams and one defensive snap in the 4-7 Jets’ 34-3 win over the 6-5 Raiders.
• Will Fuller (2013-15), WR, Houston Texans: Notched seven catches for 140 yards in 7-4 Texans’ 20-17 win over the 6-5 Indianapolis Colts … Has 41 receptions for 590 yards and three touchdowns in seven games played.
• Bennett Jackson (2010-13), DB, Baltimore Ravens: Participated on special teams and four defensive snaps in the 9-2 Ravens’ 45-6 victory over the 6-5 Rams … Played in his fifth career NFL game last week after overcoming several career setbacks.
• J.J. Jansen (2004-07), LS, Carolina Panthers: Participated in 16 special teams snaps in the 5-6 Panthers’ 34-31 road loss to the 9-2 New Orleans Saints … Has served as the team’s long snapper in all 11 games.
• Ben Koyack (2011-14), TE, Jacksonville Jaguars: Played 44 offensive snaps in the 4-7 Jaguars’ 42-20 loss to the 6-5 Tennessee Titans … Has one reception for nine yards this season.
• TJ Jones (2010‑13), WR, Free Agent: Was cut by the New York Giants to make room for Golden Tate when he returned from his four-game suspension … For the season, he has three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown in three games played with the Giants … Has yet to sign with a new team.
• DeShone Kizer (2014-16), QB, Oakland Raiders: Did not play in the 6-5 Raiders’ 34-3 road loss to the 4-7 Jets … Has yet to see game action since joining the team at the end of the preseason.
• Julian Love (2015-18), CB, New York Giants: Recorded one tackle and his first career interception, which he returned 30 yards, in the 2-9 Giants’ 19-14 loss to the 5-6 Chicago Bears … Has three tackles on the season.
• Cole Luke (2013-16), CB, Carolina Panthers: Was signed from the practice squad three weeks ago … Played 16 special teams snaps in the 5-6 Panthers’ 34-31 loss to the 9-2 Saints.
• Nick Martin (2011-15), OL, Houston Texans: Started in the 7-4 Texans’ 20-17 win over the 6-5 Colts … Has played 100 percent of the offensive snaps at center this season.
• Zack Martin (2009-13), OL, Dallas Cowboys: Was on the field for every offensive snap in the 6-5 Cowboys’ 13-9 road loss versus the 10-1 New England Patriots.
• Mike McGlinchey (2013-17), OL, San Francisco 49ers: Started at right tackle in the 10-1 49ers’ 37-8 win over the 8-3 Packers … He has started seven games at right tackle, missing four due to a knee injury.
• Quenton Nelson (2014-17), OL, Indianapolis Colts: Started at left guard in the 6-5 Colts’ 20-17 loss over the 7-4 Houston Texans … According to PFF, he had an 87.5 overall grade and, once again, made their Team of the Week.
• Romeo Okwara (2012-15), DE, Detroit Lions: Had five tackles (all solo) in the 3-7-1 Lions’ 19-16 road loss to the 2-9 Washington Redskins … For the season, he has 17 tackles, half a sack and one forced fumble.
• C.J. Prosise (2012-15), RB, Seattle Seahawks: Was inactive in the 9-2 Seahawks’ 17-9 win over the 5-6 Philadelphia Eagles.
• Isaac Rochell (2013-16), DT, Los Angeles Chargers: The 4-7 Chargers had a bye … For the season, he has 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
• Kyle Rudolph (2008-10), TE, Minnesota Vikings: The 8-3 Vikings had a bye … For the season, he has 29 receptions for 251 yards and five touchdowns.
• KeiVarae Russell (2013-15), CB, Los Angeles Chargers: Signed with the 4-7 Los Angeles Chargers this week.
Former Everett (Wash.) Mariner DB Keivarae Russell has signed with the Los Angeles Chargers.— Ryland Spencer™ (@RylandSpencer) November 26, 2019
• Harrison Smith (2007-11), S, Minnesota Vikings: The 8-3 Vikings had a bye … For the season, he has 61 tackles, one forced fumble and an interception.
• Jaylon Smith (2013-15), LB, Dallas Cowboys: Notched eight tackles (six solo) and one pass deflection in the 6-5 Cowboys’ 13-9 road loss versus the 10-1 Patriots … Has 98 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on the season ... Tied for fourth in the NFL in total tackles.
• Durham Smythe (2013-17), TE, Miami Dolphins: Was targeted twice but had zero catches in 2-9 Miami’s 41-24 road loss to the 5-6 Cleveland Browns … For the season, he has one reception for 24 yards.
• Ronnie Stanley (2012-15), OT, Baltimore Ravens: Was questionable during the week, but ended up playing in the 9-2 Baltimore’s 45-6 victory over the 6-5 Los Angeles Rams … Has started each of the first 11 contests at left tackle and continues to be the NFL’s top pass blocker.
How does Dan Brunskill compare in PFF pass-blocking efficiency among qualifying tackles?— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) November 25, 2019
1. Ronnie Stanley, Ravens: 99.2
2. Mitchell Schwartz, Chiefs: 98.5
3. Ryan Ramczyk, Saints: 98.2
4. Dan Brunskill, 49ers: 98.2
5. Trent Brown, Raiders: 98.1 https://t.co/ZtVTiD7jRp
• Golden Tate (2007-09), WR, New York Giants: Snagged three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown in the 2-9 Giants’ 19-14 loss to the 5-6 Bears ... He reportedly entered concussion protocol after the game ... Has 36 catches for 450 yards and four touchdowns in seven games played since returning from a four-game PED suspension.
• Jerry Tillery (2015-18), DT, Los Angeles Chargers: The 4-7 Chargers had a bye … For the season, he has compiled 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
• Drue Tranquill (2014-18), LB, Los Angeles Chargers: The 4-7 Chargers had a bye … Has 43 tackles through nine games, and has been excellent on special teams this season.
• Stephon Tuitt (2011-13), DE, Pittsburgh Steelers: Did not play in the 6-5 Steelers’ 16-10 win over the 0-11 Bengals ... Due to a torn pectoral muscle, he is out for the season ... Before his injury, he compiled 22 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
• Dexter Williams (2015-18), RB, Green Bay Packers: Was inactive in the 8-3 Packers' 37-8 loss to the 10-1 San Francisco 49ers … Has been active in three games this season.