EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 30, 2008

Paxton, DeOssie share high-pressure, but lucrative skill

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Old quarterbacks never die, they just grow up to be long snappers.

In the case of the Patriots Lonie Paxton and Giants Zak DeOssie, Super Bowl long snappers.

Talk about having the life. Paxton, now in his eighth year in New England, pulls in $720,000 plus bonuses and playoff money for firing a football 14 yards between his legs to a waiting punter.

DeOssie, a rookie, made $727,000 this year in salary and signing bonus in addition to his playoff money.

“It’s a blessing to be able to contribute like this and be paid like this for it,” admits Paxton, a 29-year-old Southern California native. “People say it’s an easy job and they laugh, ‘That’s all you do long snap?’ You know what, if they’re in that position in a tight game, 35 degrees, 30 mph winds, all those conditions — that’s not an easy job. Remember, the difference between the NFL’s best snapper and worst snapper is only your last (snap).”

North Andover’s DeOssie echoed that sentiment.

“You don’t want anyone calling your name as a long snapper. That means I did something wrong,” said DeOssie. “It’s a high-pressure situation. The thing is, you go out and you’ve done a million snaps in a lifetime. You don’t think about anything else but the punter, his hands, and getting it back to him.”

The roads they took to Super Bowl XLII couldn’t be more divergent. They have, however, been intertwined.

And it’s more than each starting their football careers as high school quarterbacks.

Both hit the Bryant College campus in Rhode Island in the late summer of 2000, Paxton as a free-agent rookie out of Sacramento State and DeOssie, a 15-year-old rookie ball boy attending Phillips Andover.

Immediately, the two hit it off — Paxton, the wild child from the West Coast who was into surfing, skiing and wild times, and DeOssie, the quiet, unassuming prep schooler.

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